The second FA Cup semi-final of the weekend should prove to be the tighter of the two, as league strugglers Aston Villa take on Brendan Rodger’s enigmatic Liverpool team. Both teams have won the competition seven times although the team from the Midlands last lifted the crown 58 years ago. In contrast, Liverpool won the 2006 edition of the competition – the last ever to be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – and reached the final as recently as 2012, when they were defeated by Chelsea.

Villa have enjoyed mixed league form under new boss Tim Sherwood, having won three, drawn one and lost four of his eight games at the helm. The biggest boost for the Midlanders has been the resurgence in form of striker Christian Benteke who has contributed eight goals in their last six league games.

The Villains disposed of two Premier league teams on their way to Wembley in the shape of rivals West Brom and bottom-placed club Leicester City. However, they were fortunate to have been drawn at home in all of their FA Cup ties this campaign. The club currently has 10 players out with injuries, although six of those could be available by Sunday including Aly Cissokho, Scott Sinclair and Alan Hutton. The most significant absentees will be striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and defender Ciaran Clark who will both miss out.

Liverpool were the Premier Leagues in-form team until recent defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal brought a halt to their top-four charge. However, the semi-final replay victory against Blackburn and a comfortable league win against Newcastle has restored some confidence to the youthful Liverpool camp. The Reds will still be without influential defender Mamadou Sakho, but striker Daniel Sturridge may be available after recovering from a knock picked up in the game against Blackburn.

Villa will be hoping that Benteke can cause problems for the Liverpool defence, and Simon Mignolet could once again prove to be a key player for the Anfield team. Despite the goal threat from the Belgian, Liverpool should have enough quality to win this match and Villa’s defence is shaky at the best of times. Players such as Raheem Sterling and Philippe Countinho are capable of producing match-winning performances, and they also have plenty of quality elsewhere on the pitch.

A Liverpool victory should be expected and Coutinho can be expected to star for the Reds on the expansive Wembley pitch. The Brazilian can be backed to score the first or last goal at 15/2 with Bet365 or 5/2 to score a goal at any time.

For fans of correct score betting, a price of 12/1 for Liverpool to win 3-1 at Bet365,  looks like good value.

Match prediction: Liverpool to win, Coutinho to score any time.

For even more betting options visit Betfair.

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