Having already been stung
twice this season after offering attractive odds about Arsenal, the
bookmakers seem determined not to be caught out again when the Gunners
face Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Before the matches
at home to Manchester United and away to Chelsea, layers quoted rarely
seen prices of 9-4 and 9-2 respectively about Arsenal victories. On both
occasions punters were duly rewarded thanks to 21 wins for Arsène
Wenger's side. Against Rafael Benítez's team this Sunday, Arsenal are
quoted at just 7-5 (Boylesports and Sportingbet) to defeat the current league
leaders, who trade at 11-5 (general) with the draw on offer at 9-4 (general).
Beating the best at fancy prices but
letting down punters when odds-on is a trend at Arsenal this season, much to
the frustration of Wenger and anyone hoping to get the coupon up every
Saturday. Those inconsistencies have contributed to Arsenal's title odds
lengthening to a current best of 22-1 with Extrabet and Victor Chandler.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have yet to really convince the bookmakers they
are the real deal, despite since reaching the top of the league at the start of
this month. The Merseysiders have never been shorter than 3-1 and can generally
be backed at 9-2. Chelsea remain 6-5 (Paddy Power) favourites with the
defending champions, United, 15-8 (general).
Recently it has been
difficult to back any of the "big four" with any real confidence. A month ago,
all of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and United failed to score on the same
weekend prompting Paddy Power to offer 400-1 it would happen again in
the following round of fixtures. It didn't but last weekend the big four all
drew at cumulative odds of 366-1 to once again scupper betters who had backed
the favourites. Regular punters also missed out on a spectacular opportunity
had any included draws for Celtic and Rangers alongside those in the
Premier League they would have enjoyed an accumulator that paid a massive
4774-1 with Ladbrokes.
Liverpool's only two defeats in 27 matches this
season have come in north London against Tottenham in the Premier
League and Carling Cup and their record against the big four clubs, like
Arsenal's, is excellent. Wins at home to United and away at Chelsea mirror the
Gunners' achievements this term which, in part, leads me to believe the draw at
9-4 is the best bet.
After four seasons and 10 games without a
stalemate between Arsenal and Liverpool, the last campaign saw three out of
four meetings end all square. And with Arsenal lacking creativity in midfield
central midfielders are too often employed in wide positions and
Liverpool minus their most potent attacker, Fernando Torres, chances will
perhaps be at a premium on Sunday. Tellingly, IG Sport have been forced to cut
their total goals spread from 2.4-2.6 to 2.3-2.5 after a customer sold the
initial quote for £7,000 per goal.
Perhaps rather oddly though,
the same firm has seen buyers of bookings at 46 and they now go 44-48. I say
oddly, as the average bookings make-up in league games in the past five seasons
between Arsenal and Liverpool has been 35.5 37 at the Emirates or
Highbury and 34 at Anfield. Sporting Index quote their bookings market at 48-52
and this looks to be a sell.
The high figure is almost certainly
because Howard Webb, whose games make up an average of 44.7, is in charge.
However, Arsenal v Liverpool encounters are rarely explosive; the two high
profile Champions League quarter-finals between them last season produced just
two cautions and there were contentious penalty decisions (one given, one not)
in each of the legs. Only once in the past seven league meetings in north
London would sellers at 48 have not shown a profit.
Liverpool are the teams that have forced the most corners in the Premier League
this season 134 and 130 respectively. However, when they have come up
against other top four sides their corner count has dropped dramatically.
Arsenal's average is 7.9 but that drops to 3.5 in matches against Chelsea and
United. Similarly, Liverpool's falls from 7.6 to 3.5.
profit if the trend continues this weekend by either selling total corners in
the match with IG Sport and Sporting Index at 10.5 or by backing fewer than 10
corners in the game at 11-8 with William Hill. The more cautious better is
offered 8-13 there will be fewer than 12 with Extrabet.