Stoke v Arsenal 
Saturday 17:30
Live on Sky Sports 1


All in all, quite a disappointing season for Stoke. This is arguably the best squad they've ever had in the Premier League. For example, a quick glance at their midfield options: Allen, Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Walters, Adam and Whelan, certainly suggests they should be finishing above the likes of Bournemouth or West Brom. They're 13th right now and unlikely to break into the Top 10 come the last day of the season.

Part of their problem is the absence of a proven goalscorer. Their top scorers are the midfield duo of Joe Allen and Marko Arnautovic, each with six. From amongst their strikers, the highest scorer is 36 year-old Peter Crouch with five. Wilfried Bony and Saido Beharino never really got going this season, both of them showing signs of rustiness. Neither ever really recovered from having played so little last season.

How much does soon-to-be-relegated-and-sold Jermain Defoe cost? They could certainly do with him though, at 34, he's hardly one for the future.


Can they do it? Odds of 3.35 suggest there's plenty of work to do for Arsene Wenger to maintain his remarkable record of always finishing in the top-four since he's been at Arsenal. But that price is certainly a lot more comforting for Arsenal fans than the 17.50 they were matched at a few weeks ago.

They were somewhat fortunate to run into a Manchester United side with Europa League on their minds last weekend and a Southampton one in midweek who have looked a little deflated for the last month or so. But you've still got to win those games. And now that they have, Wenger will fancy his chances.

There's no guarantee Liverpool will win at Upton Park and Arsenal's last three matches - including this one - are very winnable.

They've looked better since reverting to 'Antonio Conte's' 3-4-2-1. Kieron Gibbs looks made for the left wing-back position and both Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain suited to doing the job on the opposite flank.

Alexis Sanchez looked a little uncomfortable on the left against Man Utd but was much better at Southampton, scoring the crucial opener.

Match Odds

Arsenal look short at 1.76. Or at least they do if you go through the list of Opta stats that suggest the Gunners really don't like coming here. Stoke have only lost one of their last eight at home to Arsenal. Arsenal's win rate at Stoke is as bad (12.5%) as against anyone bar Manchester United (12%) for the men in red and white. They haven't even scored here in three of their last four, let alone win.

And you can also forgive Arsene Wenger for not particularly liking Mark Hughes. Not only do they seem to have some 'personal' issues with one another but Wenger has only beaten a Hughes side away in one of his last eight attempts (Opta again). That run spanned across five different clubs that Hughes has managed.

Yes, stats need to be taken with a pinch of salt but they're pretty damning. It's hard to justify taking a short price on Arsenal therefore, while Stoke have been a bit flat in recent weeks meaning a lay of Arsenal is somewhat speculative, too. Let's leave this market well alone.

Both teams to score?

This is the bet for me. And it's not on 'yes'. Seven of Arsenal's last nine matches have seen only one team score in them and if you were to take Stoke's home record across the season, it's 50% of their games in which 'no' would have paid out.

Further evidence this is a good bet are the recent matches between these two at the Bet365 Stadium. That bet would also have won in six of the last nine matches between these two, home and away.

I can picture Arsenal knocking on the door all match and not being allowed in and it ending 0-0. It's also possible sneak a crucial 1-0 win or suffer a sucker-punch themselves and lose by that very margin. Either way, 2.38 on the 'no' option looks a great bet.

Ref Watch/Over 3.5 cards
Mike Dean has kept his cards in his pocket of late but was far busier earlier on in the season. He averages 3.93 yellows a game and has shown five reds, though the last one was way back on January 2.

Given Stoke have seen more red cards (13) than anyone else bar Manchester City (14) since the Potters arrived in the Premier League in 2008 and that there's certainly some bad blood between these two, partly fueled by their Managers' rivalries, things could get spicy here. You should be able to get 2.00 on over 3.5 cards and that's decent.

Recommended Bet
Back 'no' in both teams to score @ 2.38
You can follow me on Twitter @Thethirdman10.

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