When Arsenal travel to Manchester City on December 18, fans of every team in the top five will be waiting with baited breath for the final score to come in.
Whenever two of the Premier League’s top clubs clash it can have a cataclysmic effect one way or another and things will be no different on Sunday. Despite a loss in their last match, Arsenal will start that game with the league advantage over City.
Yes, the difference between Arsenal and City at this point is just a single point, but the more significant stat could be goals. Arsene Wenger’s men are proving superior in front of their own and their opponent’s goals this season.
With a goal difference of 20 compared to City’s 15, the stats would suggest that Arsenal should get at least one goal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Building on that, Arsenal have won four of their last six games while Pep Guardiola’s side have just two wins, two draws and two losses.
For all intents and purposes, Arsenal should be the favourites going into this game, but the bookmakers don’t appear to see it that way. A look through Sun Bets’ latest pre-game betting lines shows City will start the game as 11/10 favourites over Arsenal at 12/5.
It’s a similar story over at Unibet with the home side sitting at 23/20, while Ladbrokes has it at 6/5 for a City win. Could it be the recent results from both sides that are tipping the balance or is it Arsenal’s record against City that’s swaying the odds? Well in answer to the second point, no. Arsenal is unbeaten against City in the last six encounters across all competitions.
If that’s the case, then surely it’s the recent results? Well, City certainly looked more comfortable playing with four at the back against Watford, but they were far from convincing. Moreover, Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Everton could have gone either way.
What this game could come down to is resolve. Have Arsenal got enough character to bounce back from a tough defeat or will they crumble? If they can bounce back then we know goals could follow and that may hurt City. Although he’s pulled some wins out of the bag, Guardiola’s tactics are still under review, especially at the back, and a few slips against Arsenal could spell trouble.
In fact, to make matters worse, Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero will miss the game which means the team may struggle to cancel out any defensive mistakes with goals. However, if Arsenal’s young players can’t find it within themselves to rally after a defeat to Everton then City could easily steal a win.
Whichever way the result goes, it’s going to be a close one, which is why a draw may be where you should be laying your money. 5/2 at Sun Bets or 13/5 Unibet are strong prices given the fact both teams have their weaknesses heading into the game. Not only that, but you can’t discount the fact neither side will want to head into Christmas with a loss to their closest rival.
With these factors in play, this match could be a much tighter affair than we’re used to seeing. In their last six Premier League showdowns, Arsenal and City have scored 24 goals, which equates an average of four per game.
If we use that logic, 2-2 could be worth a punt at 10/1 with Ladbrokes. However, if we accept that neither side will want to expose themselves to too much risk, 1-1 or 0-0 at 6/1 and 12/1 respectively could be the better options.
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