Live on BBC Scot & Skysports 2: Sat 12.30 & Sun 12.45: Peter Sharkey looks at the Scottish Cup semis and fancies a couple of upsets.
As Celtic appear set to power towards another league and cup double, punters of a romantic persuasion could be forgiven for backing Dundee United and Falkirk to upset the applecart and emerge victorious from their respective Scottish Cup semi finals this weekend.
The Terrors, an 11/2 shot with William Hill to win the cup, face odds-on favourites Celtic (4/7, Coral) on Saturday, no doubt mindful that the Hoops inflicted a 4-0 defeat upon them in the same competition last season, though they did have a man sent off in the 28th minute.
Given how effective Dundee United’s defence was in that tie, even when reduced to ten men, backers may feel that they’re capable of producing a shock. United are 7/1 (Stan James) to win inside 90 minutes, a colossal price for a semi final duel, while Skybet offer a Celtic victory at 4/9.
The sides contested a thrilling league match in November when United came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2, both of their goals coming in the final minute and the likelihood of another draw is rated at 4/1 (bet365).
The pair’s three meetings this term have yielded 16 goals and punters anticipating another goalfest can get 5/4 (Paddy Power) against the tie producing more than 3.5 goals. Elsewhere, Celtic are 11/10 (Ladbrokes) to win when kicking off with a one goal deficit, but if United can keep 11 players on the pitch, they’re capable of producing a shock result.
Having not met since 2009-10, when Hibs beat Falkirk in all three of that season’s league contests, there’s little current form between the two for punters to assess. However, Hibs have lost their last three SPL fixtures and won only one of their last seven matches, whereas Falkirk come into the semi final on the back of four consecutive victories and boast a record of eight wins in their last 11 outings. Suddenly, their 5/1 price appears quite frothy.
Punters who concur may fancy the look of BetVictor’s 6/1 for the Bairns to enjoy a one goal margin of victory, or else bet365’s massive 14/1 for them to win 1-0. For more pragmatic souls, however, the appeal of Ladbrokes’ 6/1, posted about a 1-0 Hibs win, is obvious.
Double on Falkirk and Dundee United – 44/1 (Paddy Power)