Manchester United vs. Chelsea: FA Cup Final Betting Guide

Manchester United vs. Chelsea
Saturday, 12:15 p.m. ET
Wembley Stadium, London, England

Moneyline
Manchester United +179
Chelsea +188
Draw +213

Total
2 goals (o-120)

Odds to Lift Trophy
Manchester United -115
Chelsea -105

Setting the Stage

Saturday’s FA Cup Final features two of the giants in England squaring off, with Manchester United taking on Chelsea. This game gives both of these teams a chance to win some hardware, which they failed to do over the course of this year. The opportunity is especially significant for Chelsea, who will be looking to make up for a very poor season on both the domestic and European fronts.

Both of these sides are quite stingy defensively, with Chelsea conceding 38 goals in the Premier League and Manchester United conceding 28, which was second in the league. They played each other twice during the season, with each team winning once.

The two things that I find interesting when looking at recent head-to-head meetings relates to expected goals (xG) from Understat. In the first meeting, host Chelsea were the far superior team, with an expected goal total of 1.84 compared to United’s 0.77 xG. Chelsea won that match. It was much closer in the reverse fixture, with Chelsea having 1.69 xG compared to Manchester United’s 1.30 xG.

Manchester United are the slight favorites in the FA Cup Final, and the total is set at 2 despite each of the last two head-to-head meetings having an xG quite a bit higher. Since this is a Cup Final, once a team scores the other has to sell out quite a bit to get it back, which sets up nicely for an over to hit. Betting on both teams to score may be another viable option. — Sean Newsham

Underlying Metrics

The Premier League table at the end of the season had Manchester United in second with 81 points and Chelsea in fifth with 70. Their underlying numbers suggest that they are significantly more evenly matched than that, though. United have scored 68 goals to Chelsea’s 62, though both are right around 59 expected goals. It’s on defense where the real magic happens. Chelsea have conceded 38 goals, somewhat more than their expected goals against of 34 predicts. But Manchester United have conceded only 28, an astounding difference from their expected total of 43.

Goalkeeper David de Gea has had an absolutely unreal season for Manchester United. He’s the only thing standing between Jose Mourinho’s team in second place and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side missing the Champions League. Goalkeeping aside, Chelsea have probably been the better team this season. Of course, that’s not going to help Chelsea, who are going to need to figure out a way to slip one past a man having one of the greatest keeping seasons in modern history. — Michael Goodman

Tactics

This won’t be an entertaining watch. Neither Chelsea nor United particularly want to have possession of the ball. Both teams would prefer to use their opponent’s initiative against them. Chelsea want to keep their back three structured and then counterattack quickly, either through Eden Hazard carrying the ball forward through the center or the wing backs overwhelming opponents down the side. United, on the other hand, want to destroy the midfield altogether and instead play over the top to a striker (although if Romelu Lukaku misses the match, this might be more challenging) and a speedy inside forward who can break through the backline of an opponent.

The likely end result is a cautious match. De Gea will keep distributing long balls into the teeth of Chelsea’s defense, and Chelsea will keep trying to counter attack with two to three men against six. Each team will hope to scrap an early goal off a piece of individual brilliance or a set play while taking very few risks. If that happens, things might get entertaining, as the losing side will need to open up and chase the game. Barring that, it’s going to be a long, boring, grind-it-out affair. —  Michael Goodman

Betting Market

At neutral-site Wembley Stadium, Manchester United and Chelsea have nearly identical odds to win the match in regulation. Manchester United can be found from +170 to +185 depending on the sportsbook, while Chelsea’s odds are anywhere from +175 to +190. The draw ranges from +203 to +220. Public betting percentages have basically been on par with the actual odds, so there’s no lopsided/trendy bet to fade.

We’re also dealing with a very low total of 2 goals (o-120), but bettors do have the option to take an extremely juiced 2.5 goals (u-167).

My best bet for the final actually shifts away from the moneylines and looks at the player prop market. Chelsea’s Willian is listed at +350 to score anytime and +900 to score first, and I really like the value on the Brazilian to net one in the final.

He doesn’t mind taking shots from distance and can absolutely score from long range, which may be necessary against a packed-in Man Utd. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s recently been linked to joining Manchester United next season, and I could see him wanting to make an impression for his potential new club. — Dan McGuire

Best Bets

McGuire: Willian to score anytime (+350) and to score first (+900)
Newsham: Over 2 goals

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