The top game in the Premier League on the weekend comes from the Emirates Stadium in North London with Arsenal playing host to London rivals Chelsea. This is a game of high importance, perhaps more so for Arsenal than Chelsea.
The Gunners start the game in fifth place, six points behind Chelsea who are occupying fourth place. Arsenal can ill afford to lose more ground in the race for a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.
* (betting odds taken from bet365 on January 17th, 2019 at 6:14 pm)
It is Chelsea who are kicking off the game as favourites for the fixture. The odds-on Chelsea to beat Arsenal are 13/10 and that is a reflection of the wobbles in form that Arsenal have been having recently. Arsenal had that massive 14 match undefeated streak of form earlier in the season, including a seven-match winning streak.
It has all been a bit hit and miss for them recently though as they have won just two of their last six Premier League fixtures (D1 L3). Earlier in the season Arsenal suffered a 3-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. While Arsenal’s home form has at least stayed intact through their current slump of form, they have failed to earn a clean sheet in any of their last six Premier League outings.
Chelsea are the ones who have been carrying the better form recently. They have won five of their last seven Premier League fixtures. Chelsea are also on a three-match winning streak away from home and while that has been earned against sides currently outside of the top six, the Blues still have shown a bit of grit and winning steel. The Blues will know that they are up against a good scoring home side but Chelsea have been on-point in defence.
The Blues have earned a clean sheet in 50% of their away games this season, and have conceded at under a goal per game on average. Chelsea are currently on a seven-match scoring streak on their travels in the top flight. Going into the game Chelsea have also have only found themselves trailing at the halftime break once on their travels this season.
Chelsea have opened the scoring in eight of their 10 away fixtures in the English top flight this season which is another superb stat. Granted while they are carrying a bit of form with them, including a four-match undefeated streak at the moment, their performances haven’t been full on thrilling displays of power. They have stuttered at times and largely that is because of them not having a genuine out and out striker who is in any kind of form.
But they have been getting the job done at the of the day. They are perhaps the more organised of the two sides, and the balance could be tipped in the midfield area where the Blues look to have a competitive edge. With the brilliance of Eden Hazard in their ranks, they will of course always have a chance at pulling something out. But will that translate into a huge three points of them which would open a massive gap over the Gunners?
The odds on Chelsea to beat Arsenal at 13/10 will have a lot of appeal for punters on the away side* (betting odds taken from bet365 on January 17th, 2019 at 6:14 pm). It’s no easy game of course but the Blues have an away scoring streak going and they are facing an Arsenal side who have looked less and less assured of themselves at the back.
Manchester United caused a stir on Sunday as they collected three points from a 1-0 success away at Tottenham. That was the biggest test for interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since having been brought in to revive the club’s fortunes. The former United striker arrived last December to replace Jose Mourinho.
After winning his first four Premier League games, the fog was lifted. But it was all in context because they were all victories against sides currently in the bottom half of the table. Throw in an expected win over Championship strugglers Reading in the FA Cup and Solskjaer had had a somewhat easy run of games. Then came the league trip to Spurs.
5/6 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
5/2 Mauricio Pochettino
7/1 Zinedine Zidane
10/1 Gareth Southgate
12/1 Massimiliano Allegri
16/1 Diego Simeone
* (betting odds was taken from Paddy Power on January 14th, 2019 at 2:07 pm)
Any questions that were there about Solskjaer in this test was answered. They relied on a positive counter attacking set up, not afraid to pump the ball long and use their pace. It worked for them as Marcus Rashford got the only goal of the game just before the half time break. Then it was all hands to the pump to defend.
Spurs had more than enough chances to get an equaliser and indeed win the game. They peppered the United goal in the second half, but keeper David de Gea was equal to everything. The Spaniard pulled off eleven saves in the match in total to help United secure a massive three points.
Bookmaker Paddy Power had apparently seen enough. On Sunday they paid out on bets having backed Solskjaer to be the next permanent Manchester United manager. Solskjaer was only brought into Old Trafford on a temporary basis until the end of the season. In the summer he is supposed to be going back to his other managerial job at his club Molde.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has been touted as one of the key men to get the Old Trafford job on a permanent basis. He has drifted to 5/2 to be the next United boss leaving him as the second favourite in the market. Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is a 7/1 option to be in the hot seat at the start of next season* (betting odds taken from Paddy Power on January 14th, 2019 at 2:07 pm).
Paddy Power has also produced a market for some Solskjaer Special, including guiding Manchester United to an unbeaten run for the rest of the Premier League season.
2/1 Man Utd to beat Liverpool in Old Trafford in the 2018/19 EPL
9/4 Man Utd to beat Man City in Old Trafford in the 2018/19 EPL
7/1 Man Utd to beat Liverpool & Man City in Old Trafford in the 2018/19 EPL
25/1 To go the rest of this season’s Premier League unbeaten
* (betting odds was taken from Paddy Power on January 14th, 2019 at 2:07 pm)
The three points earned at Wembley on Sunday left Manchester United in sixth place in the table, but level on points with Arsenal directly above them. The Red Devils have a six-point gap to make up to fourth-placed Chelsea. Paddy Power rate the chances of the Red Devils securing a top-four finish at 5/2* (betting odds taken from Paddy Power on January 14th, 2019 at 2:07 pm).
This should be some clash from the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Tottenham have played their way into a title challenge again but as they are still chasing the top two of Liverpool and Man City, they can’t afford any slip-ups.
Will they be able to earn themselves three points at home against Manchester United on the weekend? The Red Devils are on the up under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Man Utd 5/2
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on January 8th, 2019 at 9:42 p.m.)
This should be a great match up and it is very important one for Tottenham. They start the weekend in third place in the league and six points behind leaders Liverpool. So even though they are in the title race and have good form, there appears at the moment to be little margin for error by them if they want to keep in touch. This is going to heap a bit of extra pressure on them to perform.
But they have been performing though without question. They collected a 3-0 win at Cardiff on New Year’s Day to start the year on a positive note. Tottenham have earned six wins in their last seven league games and in that sequence of games they have taken four clean sheets. So overall things are going pretty well for them. Their only slip up in that run of seven games was a shock home loss against Wolves on December 29th last year.
But it is natural for a team, as good as they may be, to have a bad day at the office now and again. That’s to be expected but not planned for. Tottenham home form this season is W6 D3 from nine games and before that surprise defeat against Wolves, Spurs had been on a four-match winning streak at home in the top flight. The odds on Spurs to beat Manchester United are at even money* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on January 8th, 2019 at 9:42 p.m.).
Tottenham took a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford back at the end of August last season. It was a really dominant display from the Lilywhites and it was the prime example of what they are capable of. They showed their might and power when they hosted Chelsea back at the end of November. They totalled tore apart their London rivals in a big show of strength at Wembley putting three goals past the Blues.
Tottenham have scored at least two goals in seven of their last nine Premier League games. Will that kind of scoring threat be able to nudge them past the challenge of Manchester United who have been leaky at the back this season? Spurs have scored ten goals in their last four Premier League home fixtures and they have Harry Kane who is on a four-match scoring streak in the top flight.
Last season in this corresponding league fixture, Spurs ran out comfortable 2-0 winners over Manchester United. That is a three-match home winning streak that they have going against the Red Devils at the moment. Two of the three wins in that sequence have been with a clean sheet for the Lilywhites as well.
Spurs are actually undefeated in their last six home games against Manchester United in the league (W4 D2). Tottenham have conceded just the one goal in their last four home games against Manchester United. That is a trend which they will be hoping to keep going as well as they look to keep themselves as close as possible as they can to the top two.
The Red Devils arguably have been having a better time of things since the managerial change. Interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has overseen four Premier League wins from four. But that all needs to be put into context. The first two were against Cardiff and Huddersfield, two of the bottom four currently. The next was against Bournemouth who are badly out of form.
Their most recent win on January 2nd was a 2-0 success at Newcastle, but they struggled to break down the Magpies and were largely second best for the fixture. It means that the four wins have all been against sides currently 12th or lower in the Premier League table. They will bring a scoring threat as they have averaged two goals per away game. But their victory at St James’ Park at the start of the new year snapped a run of no clean sheets in eight away games.
Tottenham look the stronger and the more settled of the two sides. It is hard to really get a feel for where Manchester United’s revival is at as they haven’t faced a serious test since Mourinho left. They were poor against Newcastle and with them having no form out at Spurs recently, it all points to some value in those odds on Tottenham to beat Manchester United at even money* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on January 8th, 2019 at 9:42 p.m.).
This is a huge clash at Anfield on Saturday evening. Liverpool have managed to power their way to a six-point lead at the top of the table over Christmas. Now the task is to maintain their advantage. This is a tough game for them as they welcome the Gunners to Anfield. Arsenal are pushing for a top-four spot and could have the attacking threat to rattle the Reds.
Still, it is Liverpool who are the favourites. The Odds on Liverpool to beat Arsenal are 1/2* (betting odds taken on December 29th, 2018 at 2:49 pm)
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on August 29th, 2018 at 6:35 p.m.)
What a season it has been for Liverpool. They collected a 4-0 home win over Newcastle on Boxing Day and that moved them on to an eight-match winning streak in the Premier League. They are showing no sign of slowing up at all. With the form of Manchester City falling away through December, Liverpool now hold a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League heading into the final weekend of 2018.
But it’s a lead not over the reigning champions Man City, it is over Spurs. So will the Reds be able to continue their positive momentum as they play host to Arsenal on Saturday evening? The Reds earned a point from a 1-1 draw when they took a trip to North London to face Arsenal earlier this season. They have fantastic home from going against the Gunners though.
Liverpool have remained undefeated in their last five home games against Arsenal now, winning four of those. They have scored at least two goals in each of those five games in that sequence. In total Liverpool have come up with seventeen goals in their last five Premier League home fixtures against Arsenal. With the Reds averaging almost 2.5 goals per home this season in the top flight, will that be too much for Arsenal to handle?
It may not even be so much about stacking up the two powerful attacks against each other. There is a clear difference in the defensive strength of Liverpool over that of Arsenal. Liverpool have conceded just two home goals this season in the EPL having taken a clean sheet in 78% of fixtures at Anfield. Arsenal meanwhile are still looking for their first away clean sheet this season in the top flight. There should be chances for the Reds.
It’s not as if Arsenal are a bad side. But their form on the road just isn’t there lately. They have failed to win any of their last three on the road (D2 L1) after playing out a draw at Brighton on Boxing Day. They have the goals in them without question, having scored at least two goals in every road fixture. But their defence has remained vulnerable and that could be the advantage that Liverpool needs.
Liverpool have the edge at the moment. They are confident, they have tremendous momentum behind them and they are on home soil. Arsenal have the scoring power to threaten the defence of the Reds, but of the two defences, Liverpool’s is clearly superior. That could be very telling and Liverpool are strong enough to expose Arsenal’s weaknesses at the back. The Odds on Liverpool to beat Arsenal are 1/2* (betting odds taken on December 29th, 2018 at 2:49 pm) and that looks a strong proposition.
One of the most anticipated fixtures on the English football calendar is Liverpool v Manchester United. The two bitter rivals will meet up on Sunday at Anfield and the fortunes of the two giants couldn’t be more contrasting than it is at the moment.
Liverpool are on a serious Premier League title hunt, whereas Manchester United have a huge job ahead of them just to try and get themselves into the top five. The odds on Liverpool to beat Manchester United are short at 4/7* (betting odds taken on December 14th, 2018 at 2:30 pm)
Man Utd 5/1
* (betting odds taken on December 14th, 2018 at 2:30 pm)
There has been a big gulf between the two sides this season. Last weekend Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League table. That was after a comfortable win against Bournemouth, while Chelsea did the Reds a huge favour in beating Manchester City. It left Liverpool as the only unbeaten side in the English top flight this season after sixteen games played. Can they extend it a step further in this big test?
Manchester, in contrast, are starting the weekend in sixth place but that is only part of the story. They are starting a massive eight points adrift of fifth-placed Arsenal and 18 behind leaders Liverpool. That is a gulf that they are not going to be making up over the course of the season and it is easy to see why there has been so much pressure on boss Jose Mourinho.
The Reds have every reason to be confident. They are clearly the more confident of the two sides. They have a settled side, they have a manager who believes in his players and they are delivering the quality. Their home form is W6 D1 L0 for the season and they have averaged over two goals per game. Given that Manchester United have managed only two clean sheets all season, indicates that the Red Devils are going to struggle at Anfield.
The 4/7 odds on Liverpool to beat Manchester United* (betting odds taken on December 14th, 2018 at 2:30 pm) look even stronger when you size up the fact that the Reds have conceded just the one goal this season on home soil in the Premier League. The Reds are fluent in attack and have been so difficult to break down at the back. They are a clearly a team who are working for each other.
Manchester United meanwhile look very short of confidence and have produced some abject displays. There are major problems when their record signing Paul Pogba can’t get a start. They look disjointed and struggling under some conservative tactics that clearly aren’t working for them. The Red Devils have conceded 26 goals in their 16 league games so far. Only five teams (four of them the current bottom four) have conceded more goals than Manchester United have done this season
Liverpool have not beaten Manchester United in any of their last eight league meetings. But the timing looks perfect at the moment for them to go and snap that run of winless form against the Red Devils. Their star striker Mo Salah has scored in five of Liverpool’s league home games this season and he has come back into terrific form, netting a hattrick last weekend against Bournemouth. An inspirational game from him could help the Reds topple Manchester United
Liverpool have not suffered a loss in any of their last 28 Premier League home games. They have earned a clean sheet in eleven of their last twelve league outings at Anfield. That is just how strong they have been defensively. They have also taken a clean sheet in each of their last three home games against the Red Devils in all competitions now. This is a big moment for the Reds. It is not the time to be slipping up after having gained a crucial lead in the title race last weekend.
Chelsea of are the next ones to stand in the way of Manchester City’s title charge. The Blues have suffered a couple of setbacks in the league recently, but they were out on the road. Maurizio Sarri’s men have an unbeaten home record in the top flight this season.
Will they be able to come up with something special to be the first ones to inflict a league defeat on the reigning champions this season? Or will it simply be business as usual for the Citizens? The odds on Manchester City to beat Chelsea are 19/20* (betting odds taken on December 7th, 2018 at 4:38 pm).
Man City 19/20
* (betting odds taken on December 7th, 2018 at 4:38 pm)
The Citizens are on a three-match winning streak against Chelsea in all competitions. After taking back to back 1-0 Premier League wins over the Londoners last season, Manchester City eased to a 2-0 win at Wembley back in August against Chelsea. That was in the FA Community Shield, although Chelsea had a lot of their first team stars missing for the game.
But that is three wins on the bounce and with no goal conceded for Man City against Chelsea. So there is a little trend running there and the Citizens are at 13/5 odds to win to nil on Saturday* (betting odds taken on December 7th, 2018 at 4:38 pm). If they can get the victory (in any fashion) it would see Pep Guardiola’s men pass another serious test on their path to a title defence.
Manchester City collected a 2-1 win at Watford in midweek which was their seventh straight win in the top flight. City have banked a clean sheet in half of their last eight league games. In total they have conceded just twice on their travels this season, helping them to a W5 D2 record away from the Etihad. Manchester City are currently on a three-match winning streak away from home.
While their scoring away from home hasn’t been anywhere near as prolific as their home scoring form, they have still averaged over two goals per game away from home. They have the quality and the scoring touch to overpower most sides. They have also proven again this season they can visit the home of other top sides in the country and produce the results. Their biggest away game this season saw them play something of a conservative and containing game at Anfield against Liverpool.
Liverpool’s high-energy, high-pressing game hurt City badly last season, but they learned from it and did a much better job this time around against them. They have also been to Spurs and Arsenal this season already and beat both North London clubs to nil. So this will complete all of their away games against the current top five this season, meaning that they have a huge advantage in having to face all their main rivals back at home later in the season.
There has been a strange trend in recent seasons between Manchester City and Chelsea. The result in the first meeting of a given season between the two clubs has been repeated in the second meeting for that season.
Chelsea won both league meetings in 2013/14
They draw both games in 2014/15
Man City won both league games in 2015/16
Chelsea won both league games in 2016/17
Man City won both league games in 2017/18
So looking back at the recent meetings, Chelsea are just W1 D1 L2 in their last four Premier League home games against Manchester City. So it isn’t a ground where the Citizens have feared to tread in recent times.
Before their first league defeat of the season, which happened at Wembley against London rivals Spurs, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was becoming increasingly concerned. He was concerned about how slowly his team was starting matches, not playing as well early on in fixtures as they had been at the start of the season. He could see the standards starting to slip.
They got beaten badly by Tottenham in that game and after reviving themselves on home soil against bottom side Fulham in a West London derby, they had a shock defeat at Wolves in midweek. Chelsea were leading 1-0 at half time, but then just collapsed as Wolves tore into them in the second half of the fixture and Chelsea lost 2-1. It was a result which Sarri was totally befuddled by.
Manchester City have proven this season that they can deliver against the best in the country. It hasn’t been the same for Chelsea who have struggled for wins against the top sides. So it does look as if it has to be an advantage for the Citizens. The odds on Manchester City to beat Chelsea are 19/20 and it looks to be some decent value on the away side* (betting odds taken on December 7th, 2018 at 4:38 pm).