Andrew Atherley crunches the numbers ahead of this weekend's FA Cup semi-finals and believes that Wigan look a solid investment to get the better of Championship outfit Millwall...
"With a strong indication that class will out, Wigan are the pick at 1.84/5."
Chelsea v Manchester City is the FA Cup semi-final that will get most of the attention this weekend but the stats are more of a pull towards Millwall v Wigan.
The cream tends to rise to the top in the later stages of the FA Cup, no matter which teams have got this far, and Wigan's Premier League status clearly gives them the advantage over their opponents from the Championship.
The overall figures show a narrow edge in semi-final wins for the higher-placed team in the league structure in the past decade (10 against eight in 90-minute play) but most of the 'upsets' were caused by teams from the Premier League's big six (often in clashes with other big-six teams with whom they were closely matched).
That makes Chelsea v Manchester City difficult to call on the stats, but the clear division between Wigan and Millwall is more decisive.
In the past decade, once the gap has widened to four or more league places, the higher-placed team has won eight out of 12 (67%) and lost only two in 90-minute play. With a gap of 10 or more places, the record is five wins out of six, while in the Premier League era the record of top-flight teams against Championship opponents in semi-finals is six wins and a draw out of seven (in 90 minutes).
In the fourth round Millwall beat Aston Villa - a Premier League team of similar standing to Wigan - but that was with home advantage and it is the absence of any such edge that probably explains the lack of upsets when the FA Cup gets on to neutral territory.
With a strong indication that class will out, Wigan are the pick at 1.84/5.
Another strong stat from the FA Cup semi-finals of the past decade is that at least one team has failed to score more often than not - 12 times out of 20 (60%). It is interesting that No in the Both Teams to Score market is 2.0621/20 in Millwall v Wigan and 2.285/4 in Chelsea v Manchester City.
In the past decade, five of the six semi-finals that did not feature a big-six team ended with a win to nil and four were 1-0. Under 2.5 Goals is attractive in Millwall v Wigan at 1.9620/21 and a Wigan 1-0 win is worth considering at 7.87/1.
In big-six semi-final clashes like Chelsea v Manchester City, five out of six in the past decade have gone to the lower-placed team, which indicates that the gap between the teams in the Premier League is narrowed by neutral territory and the one-off nature of the match.
That points towards Chelsea, who have a couple of other factors in their favour. The first, of course, is their tremendous run in the FA Cup, which now stretches to 29 matches (23 wins and six draws) without defeat in 90-minute play since they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage five years ago by Barnsley.
Chelsea also have an excellent record in FA Cup semi-finals, having played in 10 in the Premier League era and lost only two. They have won seven out of 10 in 90 minutes and that makes them worth considering for the win at 3.211/5 , although it is worth noting that Manchester City have developed into a good cup side under Roberto Mancini.
With that in mind, Chelsea do not appeal as strongly as Wigan as a win bet but look the team to support over 90 minutes with a slight head start off 0 & +0.5 on the Asian handicap at 1.855/6.
Back Wigan to beat Millwall at 1.84/5
Under 2.5 Goals in Millwall v Wigan at 1.9620/21
Chelsea off 0 & +0.5 on the Asian handicap at 1.855/6