It's a tricky game to call with the Irons showing their mettle
And the stats say it's worth backing the stalemate
What to make of Arsenal at this time of year? Little over a month ago, they were on course to make it three FA Cups in a row, well placed to take advantage of any Leicester collapse and had admittedly overly optimistic hopes of beating Barcelona. It’s safe to say that went about as well as a Cheryl Cole marriage.
The Gunners’ latest attempts to cling on to the udders of the Champions League cash cow take them to Boleyn Ground for a game against high-flying West Ham. Convincing wins over Everton and Watford would suggest Arsenal have come out of their customary spring slump but the renaissance will get tested against a Hammers side who have lost just twice in 17 games since the turn of the year.
Some facts to note about West Ham’s fondness for stalemates are:
- they’ve drawn the most games in the Premier League with 12 (out of 31)
- they’ve had the most score draws in the league with nine
- their last four draws in the league have been 2-2 scorelines
In addition, the Hammers’ last two games have ended in 2-2 draws – one very encouraging one away to Chelsea and one less encouraging one at home to Crystal Palace. Over the course of the season, they’ve ended up with a league high six 2-2 draws, significantly ahead of the league average of 2.4. Slaven Bilic has a preference for stylish football rather than staid defending and it would appear that’s reflected in their scorelines. With seven games still to play and 49 goals scored, they’ve already easily surpassed last seasons tally of 44 while the defence is on course to have a marginal improvement based on goals per game (1.23 in 2014/15 against 1.19 in 2015/16).
Here’s how the Hammers’ propensity to draw and also have score draws compares to the rest of the Premier League this season:
Predicting just how Saturday’s match will go is harder than trying tax evasion in Panama. If Dimitri Payet gets going, he can cause problems for an Arsenal defence never too far away from a mistake. Likewise, if Arsenal click into gear like they can often do when the pressure is off, they could easily get on the scoresheet a couple of times. They’ve scored at least two goals on all seven of their most recent trips to Newham.
It all points towards being the bet. A 1-1 draw at is possible, but the more ballsy choice is going for the 2-2 option at . A draw and both teams to score is available at – that one covers a few bases while the for a draw covers the unlikely event of both teams failing to score.
Backing the draw is about as popular as a Ronan Keating album, but in the case of the Irons, it could well be a steal.