Arsenal v Manchester City could prove to be a pivotal game in the race for the 2011/12 Premier League title. City have begun to struggle on their travels and have handed the initiative to rivals Manchester United. Arsenal meanwhile, need to cement Champions League qualification and are solid at home. With so much at stake, is there betting value to be had?
Under 2.5 Goals (43/40 @ Bet365)
It is a surprising, but important statistic, that Manchester City have not scored more than one goal in an away League fixture since beating QPR 3-2 on the 5th November 2011. They have played 7 road games since then, and totalled 5 goals. The days of winning 4-0, 6-1 and 5-2 away from the Etihad Stadium ended more than 4 months ago – it is not a recent phenomenon.
The defensive record of both clubs also suggests a tight affair. Manchester City boast the 2nd best away defence in the League with just 15 goals conceded in the same amount of games. Arsenal themselves, so often criticised for the lapses within their rear guard earlier this season, actually have a sound record at home – 12 goals have gone in against them in their 15 Emirates fixtures.
In the clashes between the top sides so far this season, goals have flowed freely (8-2, 5-3, 6-1 etc), but there is enough evidence going into this one to suggest that a cagey low scoring affair will unfold. The bookmakers are split – some go odds-on that there will be 2 goals or fewer, but some are healthily odds-against, and anything above 11/10 provides enough incentive to get involved.
Arsenal v Manchester City verdict
The trend of low scoring games when Manchester City hit the road is so overwhelming that odds-against 2 goals or fewer looks value (8 of last 9 have been Under 2.5). Arsenal are underrated defensively and a tight match could be on the cards. Bet365 are currently best price on Unders at 43/40.