Arsenal v Man Utd
Sunday 07 April, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports


After the flame flickered again with a late win over Leicester and a slightly unexpected FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City, Arsenal returned to phone-in-fury mode with a limp 2-0 loss to Spurs.

That result ended Arsenal's 22-year run of finishing above their North London rivals but, more than that, put another huge puncture in the Gunners' bid to make the top four.

Arsenal scored their first win over United in 11 tries when cruising to a 3-0 win over the Red Devils in this fixture last season. It's no surprise that the game was played in October i.e. before the Gunners had faded from the title race.

However, Arsene Wenger has never beaten Jose Mourinho in 12 Premier League showdowns so the Portuguese has always found a way to counteract Arsenal's main strength, their forward line.

If Wenger is to end that run, he'll have to do it against a United side unbeaten in 25 Premier League matches this season.

Manchester United

Firstly, this could be a difficult game to bet on because of its timing.

It falls between United's two-legged Europa League semi-final and, although they appear to have done the hard part against Celta Vigo by winning the away tie 1-0, Mourinho is still threatening to play a weakened side at the Emirates.

"The players that have accumulated lots of minutes are not going to play next weekend," said Mourinho after the Celta win. Then again, it's all relative.

United's bench in Spain on Thursday night was de Gea, Mata, Rooney, Martial, Smalling, Carrick and Young.

Mourinho has plenty to pick from and even if he tries to make a point by throwing in a young player or two, he'll have them that well organised that it might not make a whole lot of difference.

Although he now views the Europa League as by far the clearer path to a place in next season's Champions League, the devil in him will still want to put a spanner in the works for Arsenal, just as he did when Chelsea boss and winning 2-0 at Anfield to thwart Liverpool's title hopes when it mattered little to the Blues.

If Liverpool have beaten Southampton earlier in the afternoon, that could also subdue the atmosphere a little for both teams. Then again, a slip-up for Jurgen Klopp's men and it's game on again for this pair.

That's why it's hard to call until nearer kick-off although the one guarantee is likely to be that Mourinho will make United hard to beat. That unbeaten run means more to him that he might let on.

Match Odds

Arsenal are 1.96 to take all three points and give Wenger his first win over Mourinho. I wouldn't be taking that given the way the Gunners so often fold in these big matches. Man Utd are 4.40 while the draw is 3.75.

None of the options really jump out at me. If forced I'd play the draw but there is a better option below.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Historically, this fixture seen plenty of goals down the years and before the start of this season over 2.5 would have landed in four of the previous five head-to-heads.

But this is a Manchester United managed by Mourinho and all this season's evidence screams 'Unders' to me. That's priced at 1.95 in a market that is basically a pick 'em with over 2.5 at 1.94.

Mourinho's lack of ambition in tough away games has been staggering in some senses but predictable in others. History and financial muscle says United should be going out to win but the Portuguese has made it blindingly clear that not losing and denying the opposition is his very first thought.

Hence 0-0 at an in-form Liverpool. Hence 0-0 at local rivals Manchester City. After a 4-0 drubbing at his former club Chelsea, he made sure it didn't happen again in the FA Cup, United being edged out by a single goal.

The 1-0 win at Celta Vigo on Thursday night was another chalked up for Unders backers and six of United's seven away games in Europe - matches in which Mourinho's caution naturally comes to the fore - have featured under 2.5 goals.

Whatever team he sends out will be well organised and hard to break down and, without Zlatan, the goal count from either side is likely to be kept in check.

As they hang on - grimly at times - to this long unbeaten run, the goal count has suffered. The bottom line is that eight of United's last 10 games in all competitions have featured under 2.5 goals. I expect that trend to continue.

Both Teams To Score

The 0-0s at Anfield and the Etihad are obvious pointers to going 'No' at a tempting 2.10.

Another goalless draw is well within the realms of possibility, as is either side just doing enough to nick it 1-0. 'Yes' is 1.78.

To Score

Without seeing United's starting XI, this is tricky to assess from their point of view.

One stat to consider is that Wayne Rooney has scored more Premier League goals (11) against Arsenal than anyone in the history of the competition.

We all write him off and yet he's scored in his last two games so 3.20 may not be the worst bet. How much action does he see though?

For Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez at 2.36 is the obvious play but just six of his 19 Premier League goals have come at home this season. He prefers the freedom of the road.

I'm not expecting many goals so, naturally, it isn't a market I'm keen to get involved in.

Ref watch

"He doesn't want to be the star, he is a good man and an honest ref. He tries always to be a referee with a lot of balance. I had a good feeling with Andre Marriner, he is the kind of referee that when he makes mistakes against my team he has no intention."

That was Mourinho being unusually diplomatic when Marriner denied Man Utd a huge penalty shout when this pair drew 1-1 at Old Trafford earlier this season. Or was he buttering him up for future matches?!

On the stats, Marriner is far from 'Mr Laidback' and no top-flight ref has shown more red cards (7). He averages just under four yellows (3.91) per game although he booked six players (three from each side) when taking charge of the 1-1 draw between this pair.

Opta stat

Jose Mourinho has faced Arsenal without losing more times in the Premier League than the has any other side (12 - W5 D7 L0).

Recommended Bet
2pts Back Under 2.5 goals at 1.95

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