Arsenal vs. Blackburn
Arsenal continue to stutter throughout their campaign. Indeed, they were better than 20-1 to only win one of their last six league games and their malaise is statistically significant. Blackburn have been very remarkable in their inconsistency and were probably hard done by to come away from Ewood Park with nothing during the week, having bombarded Newcastle for much of the game. Van Persie remains Arsenal’s only reliable route to goal. Modeste has the potential to make an impact with his pace against Arsenal’s backline and he can be classed as efficient as the rest of Blackburn’s forwards. Set pieces still remain a hazard for the home team but Blackburn could find themselves only receiving half a dozen viable scoring chances, so it’s hard to be confident that they will contribute to the scoring. Bookmakers offer a diverse range of prices on the over 3.5 goals market. The spread starts at 6/5 and goes out to 11/8. If the 8/15 for over 2.5 goals is realistic, based on 25 chances at the posts, 11/8 is only marginally an unfair prospect. Given Arsenal’s possible slow start to the game, the +2 asian handicap bet on Blackburn at 3/5 is a workable proposition. Blackburn have as good a record on the road as they do at home.
Recommended bet: Blackburn (+2) Asian Handicap, 3/5.
Newcastle vs. Aston Villa
Villa started tremendously well against Arsenal in the Cup last weekend before they yielded far too many chances for it to be realistic for them to hold on in the game. Darren Bent has struck a great seam of form and continued his record of scoring against top class opposition. Robbie Keane has added firepower to a team that has not been known for it’s scoring this season. So it is fair to say that they provide action at both ends of the field. Newcastle welcome back their topscorer, Demba Ba, and a new number nine in Cisse. Both will be relieved to be back playing for a outfit that has been properly prepared in contrast to the Senegal team that they were unable to assist at the African Cup of Nations. As is usually the case, the price for over 1.5 goals presents better value than the over 3.5 goals quote. With quality strikers on show for both sides and a 24 projected attempts, these factors combined should see at least two goals being scored in the game.
Recommended bet: over 1.5 goals at 1/3.