Sanchez a good choice to be the first goalscorer

Arsene Wenger takes his title-chasing Arsenal side to Old Trafford on Sunday
Arsene Wenger takes his title-chasing Arsenal side to Old Trafford on Sunday

The popularity of backing a forward in bookies’ ‘first goalscorer’ markets is completely understandable.

The odds against predicting the scorer of a game’s opening goal tend to be attractive, rarely being shorter than 5/1, even for an in-form striker, but there’s a reason for bookmakers’ apparent generosity.

Punters have only one opportunity during the course of a match to hope that their selection comes good, but these hopes can be dashed should a centre-half trundle forward to head home from a set-piece, or a full-back with one goal to his name in 200-odd appearances suddenly bundle one home.

By contrast, although they offer much shorter prices, ‘anytime scorer’ markets offer punters an opportunity to make a profit at any point during 90-plus minutes’ play. For this reason, many professional punters argue that this is their preferred option.

Backers persuaded by this argument may, therefore, fancy the look of Stan James’s 12/5 for Alexis Sanchez to find the net at any time when Arsenal travel to Old Trafford on Sunday for a fixture the Gunners kick off as bet365’s 13/8 favourites.

The same player is 13/2 (William Hill) in the game’s ‘first goalscorer’ market.

It’s been a long time since Manchester United opened as 2/1 underdogs (BetVictor.com) on their own patch, but such has been their steady decline over the past three years that perhaps it’s not completely surprising.

Arsenal have an excellent opportunity to strengthen their title-winning credentials on Sunday and backers can get 5/1 (Coral) against Arsene Wenger’s men emerging victorious at 90 minutes following a drawn opening half.

Paddy Power rates the chances of both teams scoring at 5/6, but BetVictor’s massive 15/2 for the away side to record a 1-0 victory has proved just as popular as backing Sanchez to score.

Having taken maximum points from their last five league matches, it’s no surprise to see Tottenham installed as Betfred’s 4/7 favourites to overhaul Swansea at White Hart Lane and make it six wins on the bounce.

Though Spurs were unexpectedly beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace in the FA Cup at the weekend, it was only their second defeat since mid-December, form which accounts for Swansea’s massive 8/1 odds (bet365) to return to winning ways following two draws and a defeat in their last three outings.

Yet with Tottenham’s confidence sky-high, most backers expect them to secure maximum points, even though cautious types wold suggest that Stan James’s hefty 7/2 for it to finish on level terms cannot be discounted.

Spurs have conceded only three goals in their run of five consecutive victories and they’re 11/10 at William Hill to win while retaining a clean sheet, although if those odds appear less than generous, the same cannot be said of Coral’s 11/4 for Spurs to emerge victorious at 90 minutes following a drawn opening half.

Paddy Power rates the chances of both teams scoring at 6/5, but BetVictor’s 7/1 for the home side to record a 2-0 victory has proved understandably popular.

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