Manchester United host Arsenal on Sunday in the game of the weekend. United have taken eleven more points than Arsenal over their last seven games, enough to put the Gunners effectively out of the title race, unless they can find a way to win this game.
Their Champions League exit on Tuesday will make them all the more determined as Arsene Wenger faces a second consecutive season with nothing to show for his managerial wisdom. Arsenal fans will be hoping their side can repeat the heroics of last season when Adebayor’s 86th minute strike meant they left Old Trafford as 1-0 winners.
Games are pretty even between these two of late, with both sides winning two of the last five contests. Buyers of United supremacy will be hoping for a repeat of the 4-0 FA Cup mauling in February, however the Gunners did do the double over the Red Devils last season. Those looking to oppose Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will also be aware that the Champions’ six game winning streak ended at the Riverside last Sunday. In fact, they drew a game they should have lost and in doing so, kept the destiny of the title in their own hands. They arrive at this position in part via their form amongst their Big Four challengers this season, a perfect four game record spoilt only by William Gallas’ last ditch equaliser in the reverse fixture to this in November.
However, United do have a phenomenal record at Old Trafford and aside from their Munich anniversary mishap against their Manchester neighbours, they have won all of their last 16 Premier League home games. Amazingly, buyers of the time of the first Arsenal goal with Sporting Index will be interested to hear that, before the Boro game, United hadn’t conceded in any of their previous four Premiership games.
Arsenal’s away form has also been patchy and the unlikely win at Bolton was their first on the road for four games, having dropped points at Wigan and Birmingham, as well as losing at Chelsea. Wenger might take some encouragement from the fact that half of the last ten teams to go to Old Trafford in this kind of form (5 pts from four away games) have avoided defeat. He ought to note though, that Liverpool came with exactly this away form in advance of their 0-3 defeat over Easter – as did Chelsea in their 0-2 defeat earlier this season.
Buyers of total goals in the game will be hoping for a repeat of the 2005 Premiership tie when United overcame Arsenal 4-2 at Highbury. However, sellers will take heart from the fact that there have been 2 or less goals in seven of the last 10 Premiership meetings between the two sides. None of the six United-Arsenal clashes since the Gunner’s were mauled 6-1 in 2000/01, have produced more than two goals. In fact, in the history of the Premiership, only 2/15 games in Manchester have produced more than two goals. Buyers of Arsenal goals and shirts should be aware that they are yet to score twice there on any visit and ten of these have been 0-0 at half-time.
Also, United’s 3-0 win over Liverpool was the first Big Four game in eight to have 3 or more goals – in six of the previous seven only one team has scored. Indeed, all of United’s last seven home Big Four wins have been to nil – as have 18/23 over the course of the Premier League. These games have been notorious in the past for their fierce nature, with many red cards being awarded. We all have visions of the famous Viera and Keane midfield bust-ups of a few seasons back, yet buyers of bookings (10 points per yellow/ 25 points per red) should take note that the last four Premiership meetings between the sides have had an average of only four yellow cards per game.
The US Masters is already well underway and the USA and Canada have dominated the tournament in recent years, winning the last seven green jackets. Tiger Woods has been on fire all season and sellers of his pre-tournament finishing position at 5 with Sporting Index will be hoping that he keeps up his tremendous record at Augusta. He has already won four green jackets and only needs two more to tie the legendary Jack Nicklaus’ record of six. In the last 11 years the winner has registered a final score of -10 or better five times and incredibly Woods has ended his winning years on -18, -16 and -12 twice.
There will be plenty of interest in winning score after last year’s winner Zach Johnson posted the equal highest winning score of +1 (289 shots). Johnson was the first winner to record an over par score since Jack Burke Junior did so back in 1956. Buyers should be aware though that you have to go back 18 years to find the last time a winner posted worse than -7. Buyers of the winning margin will be concerned that in the last ten years the margin of victory has been between a play off and 3 shots. However, buyers will also be dreaming that Woods can pull off a repeat of his inaugural victory here when he won by 12 shots, ending up on an astonishing -18 – the lowest score and highest winning margin ever recorded at Augusta.Bill Esdaile of squareintheair.com, a former sports trader, spread betting specialist and self confessed stats addict, casts his eye over this weekend's sport and shares his views on some of the trades available. Please note these are his views and are not the views of Bettingpro.
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