If there are more than four goals in this game, Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st /last goalscorer, correct score & scorecast singles on that match.
Arsenal v Man United
“Ah, beautiful football me arse,” was how one elder Arsenal fan delicately put it as I watched the Gunners fail to even flatter to deceive at the Reebok Stadium last Sunday. The frustration is growing amongst their fans and for the first time since he joined the club there are calls for Wenger to leave, perhaps more whispers than shouts at this point but the fans are restless. Whether or not he brings in the required experience and grit over the summer we wait to see but as things stand, his squad seems to have too many boys and not enough men to seriously compete for the top honours. It could be argued that the Arsenal squad contains far more talent than Man United’s but it doesn’t have the same belief in itself and that’s what really marks out the champions from the also-rans. Having a captain who looks like he’s trying to decide what kind of bathroom tiles he wants in the en-suite of his new Barcelona pad isn’t helping either.
United on the other hand have been derided all season for being lucky, for having too many inferior or over-the-hill players in their squad, and yet here we are with just weeks to go and their well on course for a Premier League and Champions League double. It could be argued that they’ve been the best of a generally unimpressive bunch in the league but how then do you explain their exploits in Europe? Credit where credit is due and coming in to this game unbeaten in their last eleven in all competitions and having won four of their last five in the league, it’s obvious why they’re just 7/4 to win at the Emirates.
There are glimpses of hope for Arsenal though, most notably is United’s away form in the league. They’ve won just five times on the road and have picked up just two points from four away games against other top six teams. Having nothing to play for may actually help Arsenal who’ll at least be able to do their bit to in ruin United’s season, even if their own is past salvation. The key to any success will be keeping United on the back-foot. If Arsenal can play with a little reckless abandon, something Schalke failed so miserably to do midweek, then the could open up the title race with a win at 8/5. Ferguson may decide to rest a few players, even though he must be sickeningly confident of getting the required result in the second leg against the Germans. If he does then Wenger will have a real opportunity of putting one over on his rival.
The big question is whether or not his players have the fight left in them to really go for it. The Gunners have struggled to impress at the Emirates too often this season and drawing their last three league games there, at such a crucial time, is testament to how unsettled they have seemed on their own turf. Six seasons without success is affecting the fans who, though they don’t exactly turn on their team, do become noticeably despondent when things aren’t flowing as they should. This does impact the team, which is why it’s so important they get off to a flyer and score first this Sunday. Arsenal to score first is 10/11 with the in-from Van Persie well priced to score first at 5/1.
That being said, Arsenal are like an Alfa Romeo, beautiful to look at but heart-breakingly unreliable and they’ve let me down too often this season. United have won six of the last seven meetings between these sides and though they haven’t always impressed away in the league, I’ll still be backing them to get a result from this game. United in the draw no bet market at evens looks about right to me but, if only for the sake of a more exciting finale to the season, I’ll still be hoping Arsenal prove me wrong.