With Wenger finally out, optimism has returned to the rank and file of the Arsenal support. The new man in charge is Unai Emery, and he looks to be bringing revolutionary new ideas to the Emirates. You know, buying a competent goalkeeper and organising the defence, stuff like that.
Optimism is no bad thing but having to face the champions in your opening match is far from welcome, and a trip to Chelsea next week isn’t ideal either considering Arsenal’s record there.
While even the most optimistic Gooner will say the title is beyond them this season (and Paddy’s price of 25/1 reflects that), it’s not unreasonable to think they might challenge for the top four this season. In fact, Arsenal’s price for a top four finish – 2/1 – is shorter than their odds to win this match.
You can get 12/5 for Emery to win his first Premier League match, or 13/5 for it to end in a stalemate. But it’s very hard to look past Manchester City’s price of 10/11. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but they got 100 points last season. City also took Arsenal to the cleaners three times along the way too.
They haven’t been the only big side to do so either; in the last two seasons, the Gunners won just three of their 20 league games against the rest of the big six. It would be a shock if they took all three points here.
It wouldn’t be shocking if there were several goals in this match though. The last six league meetings have all featured at least three goals, as did the Caribou Cup final between them last season. Their goal gluts haven’t been exclusive to when they have played each other either.
Over the last two seasons, Manchester City and Arsenal are the top two for the most league matches among the top six that have seen over 2.5 goals, and also for all Premier League games too. It appears over 2.5 goals is the way to go here, and Paddy’s price of 8/15 for that outcome suggests he thinks likewise.
The only potential fly in the ointment is if Emery has boarded up the Gunners’ backline successfully, but they only kept two clean sheets in their five warm up matches, and one of those was against the might of Boreham Wood. My money is going on over 2.5 goals, and yours should too.
However, while there looks certain to be a few goals, it’s not so easy to predict which teams will get them. These sides don’t always pay out on ‘yes’ bets in the both teams to score market when it’s a big match.
In the big six mini league last season, both sides found the net in six of Manchester City’s ten games, and only five of Arsenal’s. The Gunners failed to score in the league cup final when facing Pep’s pups too.
These clubs are the Premier League’s joint-top (Arsenal) and joint-third (City) sides for games where both teams scored over the last two years though, so I’m going for a ‘yes’ here. It’s priced at 1/2, and do please bear it in mind.
When it came to scoring goals last season, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made two things very clear: he didn’t score first very often, and he mainly found the net at home. How does an anytime scorer bet at 6/5 sound in light of that information?
The former Dortmund man bagged a total of 23 league goals for his two clubs last season. Of those, 18 were scored on home turf, and just six were the opening goal of games. That tally of six isn’t actually too bad – only four players in the Premier League got more last season, for instance – so if you fancy Auba to open the scoring on Sunday then he’s available at 9/2. He also scored in Arsenal’s last friendly game too; it was the second in a 2-0 win, naturally.
The only player with shorter odds than Aubameyang is Sergio Aguero. City’s record goal scorer is 7/2 to break the deadlock or a very skinny 4/6 to get on the score sheet at some point. However, while he got 21 league goals last season, just six were away from home, and just two were in matches against other members of the big six.
Then again, the Argentine hit man has scored against the Gunners in five of his last six appearances against them, including twice last season. Aguero scored twice in north London last Sunday too, as the Citizens won the Community Shield.
He might get a good chance of scoring if a penalty is awarded, and you can bet on that happening for either side at 9/4. No team had more away penalties than Man City in 2017/18, and four of Arsenal’s five were at home.
There may not be VAR in the backwards looking Premier League yet, but only one of the refs with at least 100 games under their belt gives penalties more often than Michael Oliver, who is in charge on Sunday. Don’t be surprised if he points to the spot, and don’t be surprised if City win the match with both teams scoring. It’s yours at 23/10.