Arsenal could catch United cold but
final victory is a different matter
Arsène Wenger might
believe still that Arsenal can win the Premier League, but the bookmakers do
not agree. The French manager was bullish about winning the title - and the
Champions League for that matter - before Tuesday's European return leg in
Liverpool, but the layers rate the Gunners as 25-1 (Boylesports and Ladbrokes)
to overhaul the 1-3 (general) favourites Manchester United.
game at Old Trafford on Sunday is their last chance to persuade the odds
compilers that they are wrong. A win for Arsenal would see their title odds
slashed to single figures, but the match market suggests that is unlikely.
United are 10-11 (general) to win with the draw 12-5 (Coral and VCBet) and
Arsenal 19-5 (Bet365) - a bigger price, incidentally, than they were for last
season's league visit to Old Trafford when a defeat on September 17 would have
sent them to the bottom of the league.
Arsenal won that game at Old Trafford 1-0
to stop an early-season rot. Should they do so again at the weekend, Chelsea
will be the biggest beneficiaries and market movers. The Blues' current title
odds of 11-4 (Ladbrokes and VCBet) would vanish and conceivably be replaced by
odds-on quotes if they beat Wigan on Monday night, an outcome that would put
United and Chelsea level on points.
Arsenal's run of only two wins from
their last 12 matches will not convince many punters to part with their cash,
even at a near 4-1 price - odds you rarely get about the Gunners. In the dozen
fixtures United have played since hammering Arsenal 4-0 in the FA Cup, Sir Alex
Ferguson's team have won nine. United have won three and drawn one in home
league games against the other "big four" clubs since losing to Arsenal in
September 2006, while in that time the Gunners have not managed a league
victory on the road against their main title rivals.
It is difficult,
therefore, to tip an away win, but if Arsenal can start the match as they did
at Anfield on Tuesday, it is more than possible they could take the lead -
something they have done in their last two away games against "big four" clubs
and that can be backed at 7-4 (Bet365). However, Arsenal lost those two
fixtures and punters are offered 10-1 (Paddy Power) that they score first but
lose on Sunday.
The more adventurous can back Arsenal to be leading at
half-time but lose, at 33-1 (Sportingbet). With a day less to recover from
their Champions League exertions and with injury concerns about their defence -
Nemanja Vidic is out and Rio Ferdinand ended the Roma match limping - United
could be caught cold.
Arsenal have problems of their own at the back,
with Bacary Sagna still struggling to be fit, and are without a clean sheet in
six matches. Defensive uncertainty coupled with the sort of attacking play both
teams have shown recently could lead to a goal rush. The last three meetings
between the two sides have produced more than two goals, an outcome that can be
backed at 6-5 (Stan James). Half of Arsenal's eight games with the other teams
in the top four in the league have seen more than two goals, and the same has
occurred in three of United's five fixtures. Those statistics suggest the price
for three goals or more on Sunday should be odds-on.
Late goals have
been the order of the day in Arsenal's fixtures throughout the season. In 31 of
their 52 matches so far the last goal has been scored in the 80th minute or
later. The average time the last goal has been scored in Arsenal games this
term is the 72nd minute, for United matches it is the 67th minute.
Sporting Index offer a spread of a 60-63 about the time of the last
goal on Sunday, which is worth buying. Getting high of that quote would have
yielded a profit in all of the last five matches between the two clubs, with
cumulative winnings of £1,030 to a £10 stake.
Selections More than two goals in the game at 6-5 (Stan
James) ***** Arsenal to score first at 7-4 (Bet365) ** Buy the time of
the last goal at 63 minutes (Sporting Index) * >>>>>