Manchester United fans are currently enduring the longest trophy drought in recent memory, having failed to win the English Premier League or any other major accolade since 2013. For Everton fans, their drought has been even longer, with no meaningful silverware to their name since the 1995 FA Cup.
Both sides now have their best opportunity in years when they meet in their FA Cup semi-final on Saturday 23th April. Ultimately, the winner will face a potentially beatable opponent in Crystal Palace or Watford, who are set to play on Sunday.
Everton were forced to swallow their tenth league defeat of the season when they lost 1-0 to Man Utd on 3rd April. Adding to the disappointment of losing 3-0 at home back in October, Everton were totally unable to make up for their previous shortcoming.
On balance, Everton were unlucky to lose that match, having restricted their opponents to just two shots on target. Centre-back Phil Jagielka came agonizingly close to leveling the game on two occasions, but one hit the bar and Man Utd goalkeeper David De Gea saved the second.
Following the defeat, Everton have neither collapsed nor excelled, drawing three successive games against Watford (1-1), Crystal Palace (0-0) and Southampton (1-1) respectively. Manager Roberto Martínez can draw confidence from the improved performances in defence, but the downside is the struggling attack.
Fortunately for Martínez, he has a midweek Merseyside derby to correct the issue against Liverpool on Wednesday night. But an 11th league defeat of the season could damage their confidence before playing Man Utd. Given the potential pressure, Paddy Power Sports has priced Everton as the underdogs at 23/10, while Man Utd are favourites at 5/4.
If Louis van Gaal manages to win this weekend, he would deliver the club’s first FA Cup triumph since 2004 and perhaps buy himself another season in charge. For months, van Gaal has been forced to endure intense media speculation that José Mourinho will replace him, but somehow the Dutch manager keeps doing just enough to avoid a full collapse.
Man Utd looked free and clear after going 2-0 up in their FA Cup sixth-round replay against West Ham, but were forced to suffer through a tense finish after conceding at 79 minutes. On the following Saturday, Man Utd fans had to endure a nervy second half against 20th-placed Aston Villa when their team were unable to kill off the game at 1-0.
In fact, they almost dropped two points when Aston Villa striker Rudy Gestede hit the post with five minutes left. Man Utd’s indecisiveness has already cost them in a number of games and it could hurt them once more against Everton.
After 33 league games, Man Utd’s 40 goals average out as a mere 1.21 average, while their 30 goals conceded works out as 0.91. Comparatively, Everton’s 53-goal return over 33 games averages at 1.60 goals per game, so the Toffees could pose a threat if their opponents snatch the lead and choose to sit back.
Paddy Power considers Man Utd (5/4) the more likely to beat Everton (23/10), but a draw in 90 minutes is a definite prospect at 11/5. Everton have played out three-straight low-scoring draws, while Man Utd have a short variance between the goals they score and concede.
Given the risk of a draw, it’s worth considering that Man Utd and Everton are available at 4/7 and 5/4, respectively, to qualify for the next round. Effectively, this allows punters to back their preferred winner and also cover the draw if the game goes to extra time or penalties.
For anybody expecting a low score, Paddy Power Sports is offering under 2.5 goals at 8/11, but the more ambitious punters might prefer under 1.5 goals at 11/5. Meanwhile, more attack-minded bettors will be rewarded with even money if the game has over 2.5 goals.
Check in with Paddy Power Sports for all FA Cup betting markets this weekend!
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