It’s expected to be close when Gunners meet Chelsea

Roberto Martinez's Everton side are heavy favourites to beat struggling Swansea City on Sunday
Roberto Martinez's Everton side are heavy favourites to beat struggling Swansea City on Sunday

Following last Sunday’s hard-fought goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium, it’s Arsenal who lead the Premier League pack, although they face a tough assignment against Chelsea on Sunday, a side they’ve failed to beat in the league since October 2011 – their last home win in this fixture was more than five years ago.

It follows that the only certainty as far as punters are concerned is that Sunday’s contest will be tight.

With both sides requiring points for different reasons, bet365’s 13/5 for it to finish with honours even has been well supported.

The Gunners’ good recent good form, coupled with Chelsea’s indifferent performances ensures that Arsene Wenger’s men kick off as Ladbrokes’ even money favourites to secure maximum points. By contrast, Chelsea are Betfred’s surprisingly long 3/1 underdogs.

Given the stakes, the opening strike could prove conclusive: Coral consider Arsenal an 8/11 shot to score it, with Olivier Giroud priced at 9/2 by Stan James to net the opener. Elsewhere, Paddy Power chalk an attractive 7/2 against it arriving inside the first 10 minutes.

Punters who suspect that the Gunners can maintain a single goal advantage at 90 minutes may consider Skybet’s 3/1 for them to enjoy a one goal margin of victory worthy of further consideration.

Many could be inclined to combine that wager with the 9/4 odds offered by Winner.com for Arsenal to win when kicking off with a one goal deficit in a win double.

A sizeable number of punters, mindful of Chelsea’s poor away form, have been content to back a home win, with Ladbrokes’ 12/5 for Arsenal to lead at the end of both halves proving particularly attractive.

In similar vein, BetVictor’s 13/8 for Arsenal to be in front at half time and Stan James’s 9/2 for the home side to win following an inconclusive opening period have both attracted steady business.

Punters who suspect we’re in for a goalfest can get 10/11 (Betfred) about it yielding more than 2.5, although more circumspect types may prefer the 6/1 posted by Coral against a 1-0 Arsenal success.

With Aston Villa seemingly cast adrift at the foot of the Premier League table, Swansea will be mindful of the need to avoid joining them when they meet Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.

The Swans open as Skybet’s enormous 5/1 underdogs after winning just one away league match all season.

The pair drew 0-0 when they met in September, their third consecutive league draw, and while Everton start as Betfred’s 8/11 favourites to win, the draw, rated a 3/1 shot by William Hill, is worthy of consideration.

The Welsh side would be happy to head home having secured a point and they’re capable of achieving a draw against an Everton side that has become the top flight’s stalemate specialists this season, drawing half of their 22 league matches.

Accordingly, punters may fancy the 11/10 chalked by Stan James about the opening half ending as a draw – bet365 post 2/1 against the first 45 minutes finishing goalless.

Those who suspect that such an outcome could establish a second half trend can get 11/1 (BetVictor.com) against it ending 0-0 at full time, while Winner.com offer a generous 11/2 against both halves concluding on level terms.

Those anticipating another close encounter can get 11/10 (Coral) against the fixture yielding fewer than 2.5 goals, but the big question is: can Swansea secure maximum points? Should they reach the final 15 to 20 minutes without conceding, the answer is ‘possibly’.

Punters who concur may, therefore, fancy Ladbrokes’ 11/1 for City to register three points following a drawn opening half.

Stan James offer 14/1 against the game’s opening goal arriving after the 76th minute, while bet365 chalk 13/2 against a 1-0 home win.

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Bets of the week

Everton v Swansea to finish as a score draw (4/1, William Hill)

Arsenal v Chelsea: Arsenal to win without conceding (11/4, bet365)

Arsenal v Chelsea: A penalty to be awarded (7/2, Paddy Power)