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FA Cup semis: Wembley hosts Arsenal v Reading and Liverpool face Villa

The first leg of the FA Cup semi-finals take centre stage, as Wembley prepares to once again open its doors to thousands of football fans.

So, just how are these two matches going to pan out? There is a rich history between Liverpool and Aston Villa, while Arsenal are aiming for a successive FA Cup.

Let’s take a little look at both clashes. With a number of fantastic markets and great-value odds we’re sure there is something here for everyone.

Reading v Arsenal
From a total of 12 meetings between the two teams, Arsenal have won every one, which includes three FA Cup matches and three League Cup fixtures, making the Gunners’ odds-on 2/9 price for victory in 90 minutes with Coral extremely attractive.

Santi Cazorla, who has been in exceptional form this season for Arsene Wenger’s side, has hit four against the Royals in his last two fixtures, including a hat-trick, and as a result is definitely well worth a punt at 11/4 in normal time in the anytime market. For two or more, take 14/1 to make your day.

Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud has proven himself as one of the best strikers in Europe in recent weeks, and the Frenchman has a record of two goals against Reading in three meetings with the Berkshire outfit.

Having netted three in his last three Premier League matches, an odds-on price of 8/11 almost guarantee that this event will occur.

Steve Clarke’s side, though, haven’t won in five matches, recording three draws in the Championship, with their last victory coming against Bradford City in the second leg of the quarter-finals. Hal Robson-Kanu kicked off proceedings on that occasion, and takes 5/1 anytime scorer odds into this match.

Gareth McCleary and Jamie Mackie, who also struck in the match, are 8/1 and 5/1 respectively in the same market, while Pavel Pogrebnyak has netted three in the time that has passed between the Bantams clash, and is a 7/2 chance, also anytime.

Aston Villa v Liverpool
In two meetings between both teams this season, honours are even; though, despite this, the Reds are odds-on at 4/7 to win. Although an FA Cup victory for Brendan Rodgers may not make up for qualifying for a Premier League top four spot, which is increasingly unlikely, it may buy the Northern Irishman time with the fans.

When the teams met in September, it was Gabby Agbonlahor who got the only goal, and the striker has decent odds of 7/2 in the anytime market. In the reverse fixture at Anfield, the Reds ran out 2-0 winners, as Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert got on the scoresheet. The duo are both 7/4 to in the anytime market. Raheem Sterling who scored in the 2-0 win over Newcastle last time out, is 5/1 to break the deadlock.

Villa may as well throw caution to the wind and go for it. Since taking over as manager, Tim Sherwood has been instrumental in turning the club’s fortunes around, and ending the campaign with an FA Cup victory would be a fairytale finish.

With seven goals in his last five matches, Christian Benteke is in the form of his life. Odds of 15/8 in the anytime market, are simply too good to ignore, while he is 10/1 to net two or more.