In seasons gone by, Arsenal v Man Utd was one of the fixtures of the season – one that would invariably have a major bearing on the destination of the Premier League title. It was regularly billed as ‘Sir Alex Ferguson vs Arsene Wenger’ and became infamous for its feistiness and on-field clashes. Martin Keown vs Ruud van Nistelrooy, Roy Keane vs Patrick Vierra, amongst others, were battles that have gone down in Premier League folklore.
This season though it’s a battle for a Champions League spot with, realistically, fourth place being the best that either can achieve, but that will do nothing to dilute the intensity. And with United cock-a-hoop from upsetting the odds in Paris to come back from a 2-0 deficit to PSG to qualify for the Champions League last eight, they arrive in north London bursting full of confidence.
In addition, the Red Devils go into the game off the back of a run of five consecutive away wins in the Premier League and a recent FA Cup success at the Emirates. For their part, the Gunners are unbeaten in 14 home games, of which 12 have been wins.
TOP TIP! – Arsenal & Man Utd to draw 1-1 @ +650 / Lukaku as first goalscorer @ +700
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A win for Arsenal would see them leapfrog United after they surrendered fourth place on Sunday when drawing 1-1 with Tottenham at Wembley, but it was a performance that will have given the Gunners huge confidence. For long spells the Gunners led their north London rivals and but for a missed injury-time penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang they would have taken all three points.
The only downside to Arsenal’s day was a late red card for their Uruguayan international, Lucas Torreira for a studs-up challenge on Spurs’ Danny Rose. He will now serve a three-match ban, which means he missed the United game.
While the Ole Gunnar Solkjaer revolution has been built on some breath-taking away wins, United’s home form has also been good, and last time out they emerged victorious in a five-goal thriller against Southampton; a game that was a throwback to the Sir Alex Ferguson years.
Much will depend on the draining effect of United’s win in Paris, especially given how many injuries Solkjaer is having to contend with, although Arsenal too have a midweek Europa League game in Rennes, and the extra day’s rest for United could prove significant.
As ever, there will be little to chose between the two teams, but such is the momentum in the Red Devils’ camp it’s hard to envisage an Arsenal win. A draw however is far from beyond the realms of possibility and given the mental exertions of the PSG win, we can see a low scoring draw here.
The 0-0 at 14/1 is terrific value – especially when you consider the fatigue factor – but we think there’ll be a goal or two, so we’re going with the 1-1 +650 with BetVictor. Also consider the outstanding form of Romelu Lukaku, who we fancy as first goalscorer +700 with Bet365.
TOP TIP! – Liverpool to win 3-1 @ +1200 / Van Dijk as anytime scorer @ +550
Despite dropping two points in the Merseyside derby and seeing his side lose their place at the top of the Premier League, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp remains upbeat over his side’s chances of winning it.
The fact the Reds had a ten-point gap which has now been completely eroded by Man City has stirred up a fair bit of negativity in the UK press, with talk of the Reds ‘choking’ – none of which has been well received by Klopp who rightly points out that his side have lost just a single league game all season.
The Reds cause has not been helped though by a succession of draws, the most recent of which was on Sunday in the Merseyside derby, and with Man City now on a relentless winning run, the pressure is well and truly on Klopp’s men.
Burnley, meanwhile, had quietly gone about pulling away from the relegation zone and it looked as if they had done so successfully thanks to an eight-match unbeaten run, but two consecutive defeats have seen them return to the outer reaches of the relegation battle.
A 2-0 home defeat by Newcastle followed by a 3-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace have set the alarm bells ringing again for Sean Dyche’s men and Anfield is a far from ideal destination when you’re scrapping for points.
Much will depend on how Burnley start the game, and an early goal for the hosts really could signal a difficult afternoon for the Clarets. Unfortunately for the visitors, we don’t expect the Reds to drop points and think their forward-line, even with a mis-firing Mo Salah, will have too much for them.
We do though admire the tenacity and desire in Dyche’s side and see them grabbing a goal as Liverpool commit numbers forward, but still can foresee something like a 3-1 to the Reds +1200 with Bet365. There’s precious little value to be had when looking for anytime Liverpool scorers, but we are tempted by the +550 for Virgil van Dyck 888sport, who goes forward for all set pieces.
TOP TIP! – Man City to win 3-1 @ +1100 / Aguero to score a hat-trick @ +800
Events over last weekend saw the title race shift in City’s favour. Their narrow away win at Bournemouth – Riyad Mahrez scoring the only goal – saw them take advantage of Liverpool dropping two points at Everton. As a result, the reigning Premier League champions now have their fate in their own hands and will be looking to continue their winning run.
Watford, while not troubling the top six, have had a fine season and are well and truly in the race to be the best, with themselves and Wolves locked on 43 points in the battle for seventh.
The Hornets, however, have lost all seven meetings with the Citizens since regaining their place in the top flight, and have conceded 22 goals in the process while scoring just three. City, meanwhile, have kept a clean sheet in their last four Premier League games.
At the weekend, Watford made it three wins in their last four top-flight fixtures by beating Leicester 2-1 at Vicarage Road and are in good form (they are also through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup) but, in reality, it’s very difficult to see them leaving the Etihad with anything other than a defeat.
With City hitting the summit of the Premier League, they will now be looking to stay there. The squeeze will be put on Liverpool and we have an inkling they will go unbeaten for the rest of the season, all of which adds up to bad news for the Hornets.
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