Premier League: Arsenal v Man Utd

juanmataFor the sake of their Premier League Title aspirations, Arsenal need to bounce back after a humiliating weekend defeat when they host Man Utd at the Emirates on Wednesday (19:45 GMT on BT Sport).

The Gunners have enjoyed an excellent season and are very much in the title race, sitting in second, one point behind leaders Chelsea, with 55 points from 17 wins, four draws and four defeats. They were, however, subjected to a 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool on Saturday.

Arsenal went behind inside the first minute, were two goals down by the 10th and four behind at the 20 minute mark, blown away by a scintillating start from their hosts. The Gunners were unable to muster an effort on target until the 57th minute, by which point they were five down. Mikel Arteta’s 67th minute penalty proved little consolation.

Best Match Odds
23/20 Arsenal (Betfred, BetVictor, Paddy Power, William Hill)
5/2 Draw (Coral, SkyBet, Bet365, BetVictor, Stan James)
11/4 Man Utd (Bet365)

It was a surprising result, not least because Arsenal’s defensive unit has performed well this season, with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker forming a good central partnership. They had the second-best defensive record in the league prior to Saturday’s match and apart from a similarly heavy defeat to Manchester City have otherwise been very solid.

In attack, Mesut Ozil struggled to impose himself, continuing a relatively poor run of form that has seen him pick up no goals and just one assist in his last eight league matches. With Theo Walcott injured and Olivier Giroud’s overall contribution good but finishing inconsistent, the failure to sign a striker in the January window could prove decisive to Arsenal’s title hopes.

Arsene Wenger will definitely be without Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Abou Diaby (knee), Kim Kallstorm (back) and Theo Walcott (knee) for this match, while Thomas Vermaelen (calf) will face a late fitness test. Mathieu Flamini serves the final match of his three-match ban for his red card against Southampton in late January.

Reigning Premier League champions Man Utd have endured a poor season and are seventh in the table, a full nine points shy of the top four, with 41 points from 12 wins, five draws and eight defeats. They have picked up just seven points from the last 18 available and drew 2-2 at home to bottom club Fulham on Sunday.

United dominated possession (75%) and the shot count (31 to 6) but as has often been the case this season, their chosen method of attack was relatively inefficient, yielding just nine efforts on target. United swung cross after cross into the Fulham area – their total of 81 crosses was the highest in the league this season – but most were competently defended.

The result was another disappointing one for David Moyes, who has cut an increasingly exasperated figure in recent weeks, both on the sidelines and in his post-match press conferences. With Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney both fit and January signing Juan Mata (pictured above) starting alongside them, he is fast running out of excuses for United’s poor form.

He could, correctly, note that the squad he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson had some serious flaws and that his side have both scored more and conceded less than Tottenham Hotspur, six points ahead of United in fifth. Yet having spent £65 million on two new recruits and had half a season to work with the squad, recent results are far from acceptable.

Moyes will definitely be without the injured Nani (hamstring) for this match, while Johnny Evans (calf) and Marouane Fellaini (groin) are both unlikely to take part. Phil Jones should be available for selection after recovering from the concussion he suffered in United’s defeat to Stoke at the start of the month.

Arsenal v Manchester United Betting Tips Verdict

United won 1-0 when these sides met at Old Trafford earlier this season, taking the lead through Van Persie and defending well thereafter to keep Arsenal at bay. Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, but United generally have a very good record at the Emirates, with three victories in the last five league meetings between the sides at Arsenal’s stadium.

The Gunners are, however, in the midst of an excellent run of 11 league matches undefeated at the Emirates, including nine victories. They have the best home defensive record in the league, with just six goals conceded in 12 matches, and will hope to make the most of their likely numerical advantage in midfield to control possession on Wednesday.

United have lost each of their last three away matches in all competitions and we would not be surprised to see that run extended to four this midweek. They have already lost away from home to Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea this season and despite some injury absentees, Arsenal are sufficiently good at both ends of the pitch to take the three points.

  • Back Arsenal to win @ 23/20 at BetfredBetVictor, Paddy Power or William Hill.
  • There have been three or less goals in each of Arsenal’s last eight league matches at the Emirates and indeed, in their four home matches against top eight sides (Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea) this season. With this in mind, back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 21/20 with Stan James.
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