Arsenal v Hull
FA Cup Final
Live on ITV1 & BT Sport 1
Any student of FA Cup history can tell you the importance of keeping a clean sheet in the final and 'The Professor' Arsene Wenger appears to understand that better than most.
Wenger has lifted the trophy in four of his previous five finals and for each success Arsenal did not concede a goal - three wins to nil and a goalless draw with Manchester United that led to victory in a penalty shootout. The loss came in 2001 when Michael Owen, then in his vibrant prime, mugged Arsenal with two late goals to secure a comeback 2-1 win for Liverpool.
Hull do not have an attacking threat anywhere near as potent as Owen, yet history suggests Arsenal - in common with most finalists - will adopt a safety-first approach.
In the Premier League era, 16 of the 22 finals (including replays) have had under 2.5 goals and 14 of the 17 that were settled in 90 minutes were won to nil. The lesson is clear: the best chance of winning comes with a clean sheet.
And, as most finals are won by the favourite, the stats point to options such as an Arsenal Clean Sheet at around 2.111/10, an Arsenal Win to Nil (you should be able to get around 2.35/4 nearer kick-off) and Under 2.5 Goals at 1.981/1.
Those bets will all offer better odds than the Arsenal win at 1.51/2 and it is worth noting that Arsenal won to nil in both Premier League meetings with Hull this season (2-0 at home in December and 3-0 away five weeks ago).
Last year's final was not won by the favourite, of course, as Wigan upset Manchester City - but that was very much an exception. For a start, a big-six team has won the FA Cup in 22 of the past 25 seasons (18 out of 21 since the advent of the Premier League). Sixteen of those past 25 finals featured only one big-six team (making them the clear favourite) and they won 14 out of 16.
What's more, the chance of the final being settled in 90 minutes is slightly higher when a big-six team faces an opponent from outside the elite, such as Hull. Eleven of the last 12 finals with that kind of match-up have been won in normal time (extra-time is much rarer nowadays than it was in the 1980s and early 1990s).
On the stats, then, a big-six team like Arsenal should have a high expectation of winning. But what about this particular Arsenal team? How reliable are they in this type of match-up?
Well, the fact is that Arsenal have matched champions Manchester City this season in terms of performance against teams from outside the elite (both won 21 out of 28 against non-big-six sides). And, once you get to dealing with their form against bottom-half sides (Hull, remember, finished 16th), Arsenal are the best - 17 wins out of 20.
Nor is that a new phenomenon, as Arsenal have won a highly impressive 29 of their last 33 matches against bottom-half teams (going back to the start of December 2012). That's a huge 88% strike-rate.
There is a divergence here from the FA Cup final stats (which point to a tight, low-scoring game). Arsenal's own figures indicate they could win comfortably, with 19 of those last 29 wins against bottom-half teams being achieved by at least a two-goal margin - including both wins over Hull this season.
Overall, Arsenal's last 33 games against bottom-half opposition indicate a 58% chance of them winning by at least two goals - interesting as they are odds-against at 2.1211/10 off -1.0 & -1.5 on the Asian handicap (which is a successful bet if they win by two or more, and a half-loss if they win by one).
But the bet that appears to cover the stats best of all is the Arsenal win to nil.
Back Arsenal to win to nil v Hull at 2.35/4 or better