The FA Cup final takes place on Saturday. Tom Carnduff has had winners at 22/1 and 30/1 in the past fortnight and he has three best bets.
1pt Wilfred Ndidi to be shown a card at 4/1 (bet365)
1pt Mason Mount to be shown a card at 7/1 (bet365)
0.5pts Mason Mount and Wesley Fofana to be shown a card at 40/1 (bet365)
Chelsea's turnaround under Thomas Tuchel has led them to not one but two major finals. The first of which is the FA Cup at Wembley, where they will be looking to go one better than last season and lift England's major domestic cup.
In their way is Leicester, a club who have continued to improve under Brendan Rodgers' guidance. They will secure Champions League football next season but they need to win a trophy at some stage to really highlight that upward trajectory - which is a remarkable statement to make when they won the Premier League five years ago.
Tuchel's side are the favourites here, and even with the results in midweek, it's hard to look past the possibility of them winning the trophy. Leicester have been impressive, and their season will be viewed as a success, but the changes made by Tuchel should not only lead to silverware this season - they can genuinely be title challengers in 2021/22.
So, where is the value in this game? Even with these two being top-four rivals, one side being odds-on for success in 90 minutes affects the odds across the board. The usual suspects in the forward lines are short prices for a goal, and even with Caglar Soyuncu delivering a 30/1 winning tip in midweek, this isn't the route we're going down again.
One thing that could make this final interesting is the appointment of Michael Oliver as the referee. He's averaged 3.1 cards per game across all competitions this season but he has gone above that figure when officiating two of the 'big-six' or current top-six teams.
The FA Cup final tends to produce cards too. Over the past ten years, the final has seen an average of 4.5 cards with three or more coming in each of the last nine. The lowest over that period was two in 2011, with seven being shown in 2020 and 2017 - both of those games involved Chelsea.
Different players alongside different coaches bring new ways of playing but the average does show that the often cagey nature of a final can cause players to commit fouls which catch the referee's attention. Even Manchester City's 6-0 hammering of Watford in 2018 having three cards shows the type of occasion it is.
While I'm not putting points behind either, I would flag up the possibility of a goalkeeper being booked in this game too. The better value comes in the pre-match odds and you are gambling on the outcome of the game, e.g. one team being one goal ahead late on, but it could be a profitable route in this market.
Kasper Schmeichel is a best price of 14/1 for a card while Kepa Arrizabalaga is 16/1. The goalkeeper of the winning team has been booked in the 93rd minute in two of the last eight FA Cup finals (2018 and 2013) - both games finished 1-0. Edouard Mendy picked up a time-wasting booking in the recent win at West Ham.
Instead, when it comes to the cards market, our main focus is on the outfield players, and the one price that immediately jumps out is the 4/1 on WILFRED NDIDI TO BE SHOWN A CARD in 90 minutes. He's picked up five yellows across the Premier League season so far.
It's a surprise to see that there isn't more on his tally given the statistics. Ndidi's 2.1 fouls per game is the highest in this Leicester squad. It also puts him second overall in the Premier League in this category - only Burnley's Ashley Barnes (2.2) sees more per game.
It was quite remarkable that he didn't get booked in their win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Leicester midfielder finished the game with a huge six fouls but escaped punishment. That game also extended his run of having at least one foul in the Premier League to 14 games.
In fact, that 14-game run has seen his fouls average sit at 2.6 per game. A similar figure at Wembley should see his five-game spell without a card come to an end. At a best price of 4/1, and even the 3/1 available elsewhere, looks great value considering the tight game we are expecting.
Sticking with the cards market here, and another one I'm willing to gamble on is the 7/1 for MASON MOUNT TO BE SHOWN A CARD. Part of this is relying on his position on the pitch, but with Chelsea's injury issues at centre midfield, I'll hope he's playing a deeper role alongside Jorginho for this to stand a really good chance.
Mount actually leads the Chelsea squad for average fouls per game among regular starters with 1.4. However, that is across the course of a season and the potential for a card at CM comes from the number when playing there during a consistent spell at the end of the Frank Lampard era.
There was a 13-game run where he was part of a midfield trio rather than featuring in the attacking positions. During that spell, his foul count was an average of two per game. In the game against Leicester, which signalled the end of Lampard's time in charge of the club, Mount had eight tackles and four fouls - similar huge numbers here will surely bring a booking.
Mount had five tackles when returning to CM in the recent win over Fulham. The issue here is that Tuchel could opt to keep him further forward but he has more options in the attacking areas compared with midfield. N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic's absences have forced changes which has left Billy Gilmour and Jorginho as the ones starting in recent games.
The Arsenal defeat may spring changes but Mount is a regular starter. He could slot in alongside Jorginho which opens up a role for Timo Werner or Hakim Ziyech to return to the starting XI. Even if Mount is in the attacking positions, his recent booking against Real Madrid, which formed part of a winning 22/1 card double, still gives hope to a booking here.
For another big-priced card double, it's worth backing MOUNT AND WESLEY FOFANA BOTH TO BE SHOWN A CARD at a best price of 40/1. On the Leicester side of things, like Ndidi, Fofana is a player who sits above the 1 fouls per game average.
Fofana is a player who regularly commits fouls. His Premier League average is 1.3 per game and he's had at least one foul in 77% of his league appearances this season. Across the trio of Ligue 1, Premier League and Europa League games played in 2020/21, Fofana's foul average is 1.4 per 90 minutes.
The centre-back has six yellows on his tally this season, but there have been games where he can count himself lucky he didn't get punished. Contests against Leeds and Newcastle saw three fouls in each without a yellow being brandished - three fouls in this game will likely bring a card given the occasion.
Chelsea are the favourites to lift the trophy and find themselves at an odds-on price for success in 90 minutes. Even with Leicester's impressive campaign, it's hard to back against the Blues given the improvement we have seen since Tuchel came in.
They have talent throughout their squad and a decent head coach has finally brought out their full potential. This isn't a short-term gain, we're now at a stage where these results and performances suggest that a serious title charge is on the cards at Stamford Bridge.
That's next season. This season could see two major trophies in the cabinet when it looked like they wouldn't even get close to one at the halfway stage. It's a one-off game of course, and maybe some will take the 13/8 available on Leicester lifting the trophy because of that, but we have to accept that Chelsea have been the more impressive side of the two in recent months.
Rather than take the shorter prices on offer in the outright markets though, the better value comes in the cards market and backing FOFANA, NDIDI and MOUNT catching the referee's attention at some points across the 90 minutes.
Score prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Leicester (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
Odds correct at 1230 BST (13/05/21)
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