Will the Leicester City bubble finally burst?
Neutrals hope it doesn’t, but Arsenal supporters and their team pray that it does as Arsene Wenger’s men pursue the Foxes in what has become an improbable three-way title race.
Arsenal face the trickiest of trips to the south coast on Sunday where they come up against a Bournemouth side which, apart from one or two occasions when they’ve frozen, have generally taken to the top flight like ducks to water.
Though they open as Ladbrokes’ 11/10 favourites, this will almost certainly not be an easy romp for the Gunners.
Indeed, Stan James’s 13/8 odds against the opening period finishing 0-0 has found favour amongst punters, while the likelihood of it finishing goalless at 90 minutes, rated a 10/1 shot by Coral, has been snapped up by those anxious to add some form of insurance to their weekend wager.
Bookies report that punters’ betting patterns suggest they’re not expecting a hatful of goals, an understandable caution which explains the popularity of BetVictor’s 5/2 odds for the game’s total goal minutes to be less than 75. In other markets, Paddy Power post 8/15 about the fixture yielding fewer than 2.5 goals.
Not surprisingly, Olivier Giroud is amongst the leading Arsenal players featuring in the first goalscorer market where he’s priced at 9/2 by Betfred, while Theo Walcott is 7/1 in the same market according to bet365.
Punters anticipating a smattering of goals may fancy Boylesports’ 4/6 for both teams to score, while William Hill post 7/1 against a 1-0 victory for the Gunners and bet365 rate the chances of it finishing as a score draw at 100/30.
It would surprise few punters were it to end in stalemate – Skybet chalk 5/2 against the match draw, but as Arsenal have proved time and again this season, this is the sort of match they’re capable of winning.
Punters who feel they will but are unable to be any more precise may, therefore, fancy Ladbrokes’ 7/2 for the Londoners to enjoy a one goal margin of victory.
Later on Sunday, Manchester United travel to Chelsea priced as Betfred’s surprisingly long 10/3 underdogs.
When the schedules were first decided upon, television executives must have thought that this pairing would be challenging for the title, but it’ll be two very average sides that line up at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea look decent value at 13/2 (Paddy Power) to register a 1-0 win.
Not surprisingly, it’s Chelsea who kick off as Coral’s even money favourites, whereas United are 8/15 to win (Skybet) when handed the benefit of a one-goal start – bet365 post 13/5 against them maintaining a clean sheet.
Elsewhere, Betfred’s 5/6 for the match to yield more than three goals has the look of a nap and while BetVictor.com post an attractive 9/4 against the draw, many punters are confident that Chelsea will compound United’s misery – they’re 9/1 (Winner.com) to score a 2-1 victory.
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Bets of the week
Middlesbrough to beat Blackburn (4/6, Coral)
Northampton to beat York (4/7, Betfred)
Arsenal to win at Bournemouth (11/10, bet365)