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Arsenal should hand out Royal thrashing in FA Cup semis

Arsenal have put four goals or more past Reading in each of their last three head-to-heads, making odds of 3/1 with Coral for the Gunners to get that many or better in the FA Cup semi-final.

Punters should thus consider the handicap market. Give Arsenal a hypothetical two-goal deficit to overturn, and odds of 7/4 say they will win.

The Gunners, who are FA Cup holders, start as strong 1/4 favourites to win this Wembley tie in 90 minutes, with Steve Clarke’s Royals as long as 12/1 to upset Arsenal. A draw, which means extra time is 5/1. Should that eventuality arise, the Gunners are 7/1 shots to avoid penalties.

Santi Cazorla was a key performer as Arsene Wenger’s men scooped silverware last term, and has netted four his last two outings against Reading. This makes odds of 11/4 for the Spaniard to score anytime hugely tempting.

Theo Walcott also has the same return when previously paired with this opposition, so the England winger, whose contract status remains unresolved, is a 7/1 shot for two goals or more here.

Since the Gunners last met the Berkshire side, with three memorable encounters in the 2012/13 campaign, they have recruited another attacking outlet in Alexis Sanchez. The Chile sensation is an even-money anytime chance, having matched Olivier Giroud for Premier League goals on 14 apiece.

France centre forward Giroud, meanwhile, is a 3/1 shot to grab the opener at Wembley, having struck twice against the Royals before.

It is very tough making any sort of case for a mid-table Championship club like Reading upsetting one of the top-flight’s elite. Their best hope lies with Wales winger Hal Robson-Kanu, who has three FA Cup goals this term and a goal against Arsenal on his CV, at 5/1 in the anytime market.

Clarke has a call to make over who starts up front. Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak has also netted on a previous meeting with the Gunners, and he is a 7/2 scorer chance. Nigerian target man Yakubu is an attractive anytime alternative at 5/1, though, as he bagged a brace when last facing Arsenal in Blackburn Rovers colours.

Punters’ best bet here, if those goal-fests from a couple of years ago are any indicator, is definitely the 3/1 for Wenger’s men to outclass the Royals by netting four or more, though.