A big week for the Gunners with the Cherries, a North London derby and a Europa League tie away to Rennes next Thursday to contend with. While the Cherries will play up their Europa League aspirations – Arsenal have bigger priorities with in their struggle to get into the top-four ahead of Manchester United
There’s few things that Arsenal get right all the time, but their home form is one of them, and they’ve beaten Eddie Howe’s side 11-1 on aggregate in their four home games in all competitions. They’ve also only been beaten at home by Manchester City in the Premier League this season and that defeat aside, have won 11 and drawn their other two fixtures at the Emirates. Not bad!
What is bad though is Bournemouth’s away form – losing eight away games on the bounce – seven of them by at least two goals.
Unai Emery’s side look bankers at 2/5 in the win-draw-win market, but there’s enough evidence here to back them on the handicap to win.
Verdict: Arsenal to win -1 @ 11/10.
United must patch up their walking wounded as best they can as the dog-fight for the last top-four spot starts in earnest now with Arsenal.
Despite their red-hot form, Sunday’s 0-0 stalemate with Liverpool has left its mark and there no Martial, Mata, Herrera and Lingard among others for definite, while about remains about Matic and Rashford.
It’s tempting to point out that United have not lost to Palace in 21 league games (W17, D4) in a run that stretches back to May 1991, but those historical stats count for little now.
What counts for more however, is that since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s took over, United, have won their last seven away games in all competitions and face a side who are better on the road (their 4-1 rout of Leicester last weekend being further evidence), than in front of the home fans.
Only Huddersfield have scored fewer goals at home (6), than the Eagles (9). With United boasting more clean sheets (five) than any other Premier League side since the Norwegian took over, we’ll concentrate on the angle of them not conceding, rather than where the goals are going to come from.
Did someone say six-pointer? No? Well they bloody should because this is more six-pointed than the pointiest hexagram you’ll find in the pointy hexagram shop. Both of these teams are deep in the relegation doo-doo, languishing at 18th and 19th in the league after two more defeats at the weekend.
Fulham blew their survival load back in November by tinkering about with their managerial staff. Claudio Ranieri is trying to pull off a slightly less audacious task than winning the league with Leicester by pitching up at Craven Cottage and dragging a team who had just five points after 12 games when he took over to survival.
The switch looked to have worked a treat when Fulham beat the Saints in his first game, but two wins, three draws and 10 defeats in the league since say otherwise. A stirring 4-2 comeback win over Brighton in January could’ve seen them build momentum for a surge out of trouble, but they’ve lost to Palace, United and West Ham since and a defeat in this would leave them 10 points from safety with 10 games to play.
They’d be doomed, basically.
The situation isn’t quite as dire for Southampton, but their Hasenhuttl bump hasn’t held together in recent weeks. They’ve taken just two points from 12 after back-to-back league wins over Leicester and Everton in January suggested they’d pull clear of the quagmire. Their home form has been awful this season, with just two wins garnered at St Mary’s so far in the league.
They haven’t kept a clean-sheet since October on their own turf, while Fulham have scored in five of their last seven games, only United and Palace holding them out. Defensively, they’ve only withheld one opponent, Huddersfield, in their last 10 games, so a big yes to Both Teams to Score in this one at 8/11 should be safe enough.
Verdict: Both Teams to Score @ 8/11.
Liverpool return to Anfield after their muted Manchester outing and will be hoping to nab three points against a Hornets side who will be flying high after firing five on Friday night.
Yeah, so it was only Cardiff, but they shredded the Bluebirds in the second half in South Wales. Javi Gracia’s side have lost just once since Boxing Day. That was a 2-1 defeat away at Spurs where they led up to the 80th minute.
Liverpool have found their defensive solidity again after a rough few injuries-plagued weeks. They haven’t conceded in their last three, beating Bournemouth 3-0 at Anfield before scoreless draws at home to Munich and away to United. Prior to that run they’d allowed five in three though, and nine in six – that’s a flood of goals conceded considering they’ve let in just 15 in the league all season.
Watford shouldn’t expect to have it as easy in this game as Cardiff, but Klopp et al ought not to take this for granted either.
Roberto Firmino is a doubt with the ankle injury that forced him off on Sunday. Mo Salah does not look in great form, and if those two aren’t scoring, that puts a lot of pressure on Sadio Mane as there’s little threat from elsewhere in this team.
Verdict: Both Teams to Score @ 9/10.