Feb 01 2014

Arsenal v Crystal Palace: Back the Gunners


With two dropped points at Southampton on Tuesday night, Arsenal surrendered their position at the summit of the Premier League to a relentless Manchester City, and many pundits are now predicting the Mancunians to stay there until May.

Up next for Arsenal though is the visit of a newly-resilient Crystal Palace who will undoubtedly look to frustrate Arsene Wenger’s men in search of another valuable point in the quest for Premier League safety.

The Gunners will be tasked with breaking down the visitors without the services of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey but will be confident of securing their sixth win in their last eight league games and piling the pressure on Man City and Chelsea who face off on Monday night.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace may only be four points from the dreaded drop zone, but in the current Premier League form table, they sit a lofty seventh.

This is in no small part down to the new defensive solidity and organisation brought to the club by Tony Pulis and the Eagles can now legitimately consider themselves to have every chance of survival this season.

They’ll need to be at their best on Sunday however; Arsenal have been no mood to let games pass them by this season, especially not at home. The Gunners haven’t lost on their own patch since the opening day of the season and Palace’s away record is dire. They’ve picked up just six points all year on the road.

Palace may however be buoyed by a new signing or two which could give everyone a lift, and they’ll be desperately hoping Danny Gabbidon shakes off a knock and can take his place in their backline.

Match Odds

Arsenal go into this game as huge, almost unbackable, favourites at 1.24, with Palace way out at 16.0 and The Draw currently trading at 7.2.

Is there value in backing Palace to frustrate the hosts all afternoon and emerge with a creditable draw? I don’t think so, the Gunners have more than enough quality to break the Eagles down and I think they’ll do just that.

There’s not much of an angle here; I fully expect Arsenal to win and win well and so I won’t be touching this market.

Arsenal -1

As I’ve just mentioned, I expect Arsenal to win pretty well on Sunday, and for that reason I’m interested in the handicap market. True, Palace managed to restrict Man City to just 1-0 at the Etihad, but what’s not often mentioned is that City rested several key players that day and were content to just get through the game.

The situation is different for Arsenal who know they need to keep pace with the other two teams at the summit of the league and will undoubtedly be looking to rack up a few goals. You should be able to get Arsenal -1 at around 1.75 and for me that represents a good bet.

To Score

As already mentioned, Arsenal have a few injuries in forward positions currently and as a result I like the look of Lukas Podolski to get himself on the scoresheet again. Barely used against Southampton on Tuesday, on his last full outing the German stuck two past Coventry in the FA Cup.

He looks to be returning to full fitness after a long lay off and there’s no reason he can’t notch against Palace on Sunday. If you can get him at around 3.0 or better to score at any time, do so.

Correct Score

Arsenal haven’t conceded a goal at home since the 8th December, and it is fair to assume that Crystal Palace, who have scored just five goals away from home all season, won’t break that trend. It is highly unlikely the visitors will threaten the Gunners’ goal much at all. Mathieu Flamini may be suspended, but there are players ready and willing to take his place and Palace don’t have the quality up front to take advantage.

To that end then, we must pick how many goals Arsenal will score. I think it’s difficult to pick (as correct score bets always are) but I would come down on the side of a 3-0 scoreline because it’s a significantly better price than 2-0 (8.4 compared with 6.6).

Arsenal could easily rattle up a few goals here without Palace doing an awful lot wrong and so I think I’ll back the 3-0. If you’re still not convinced by the scoreline, why not use the Arsenal Win to Nil? market as an alternative? It’s currently trading at around 1.8 but will lengthen between now and kick off.

Recommended Bets

Back Arsenal -1 at 1.75
Back Lukas Podolski to score at 3.0 or better
Back Arsenal to win 3-0 at 8.4