Arsenal v City – More than just an Opening Day Blockbuster

Even though it has been several weeks since the release of the fixture list, the gravity of some opening day fixtures is not lost on anyone. It seems somewhat fitting that – albeit alphabetically – Arsenal vs. Manchester City should stand proudly atop the list.

 

City to ruin Emery debut

Despite Arsenal having home advantage, with an atmosphere bolstered by the presence of Unai Emery on the touchline, City are odds-on, or at least at evens, across the board to take the points. In one case, the champions are a mere 13/2 to beat Arsenal by at least three goals.

With Manchester City also having ‘trophy specials’ prior to 2018/19, there are no prizes for guessing which team the bookmakers have their own money on.

Unquestionably, from a betting perspective, this match will be the main draw of 2018/19’s opening weekend, especially those that want to use a free bet calculator after including the match in an accumulator. The match will mark the twentieth time that Arsenal FC has opened a Premier League (PL) season on North London turf.

Goals galore at the Grove?

Openers at Arsenal seldom want for goals, and with an outcome yielding over 2.5 goals odds-on across the board, this could easily be a classic. Only one of the nineteen Highbury/Emirates PL openers to date has produced a 0-0 draw; namely, when the Gunners hosted Sunderland in 2012.

A repeat of that 0-0 scoreline, between Arsenal and City, is priced at an average of 352/25 in current correct score markets. By contrast, three or more goals will see Arsenal become the first Premier League club to host over 100 opening day goals.

Though Arsenal F.C has been granted an extraordinary number of home openers in the PL era, it has not always gone to plan for the Gunners.

The Manchester City of 2018 is an entirely different entity from what it once was but, for what it is worth, this is the second time the fixture computer has fated City to open at Arsenal in the PL era. The first occasion was in 1994 when Arsenal strolled to a 3-0 win against a club about to embark on a Lucifer-esque fall from grace through the leagues.

With the tally currently at 97, the average per game is 5.10. An aggregate score involving seven or more goals will also make it the third season in succession that the Emirates has seen such a goalfest unfold – unheard of in the age of offside and (now) VAR!

Curse of the champions – a new phenomenon

Despite finishing 2017/18 with 100 points, Pep Guardiola’s nigh-unplayable Manchester City squad has plenty of reason to be wary. The reigning PL champions from a previous season have now lost in successive years for the first time ever. Indeed, it was not until 2016 that any champion (Leicester) lost a PL opener.

A failure for City to win will make it four years in a row that a reigning champion has failed to win an opener, with three already a record in any case. Regardless of the newly-impoverished record of reigning champions on the opening day, the club is on a run of seven straight opening day wins.

Pep Guardiola can also take encouragement from City’s recent PL record in away openers under the Khaldoon Al Mubarak regime.

City squads have scored twice as many (10) as they have conceded (5) on away openers during that time. If the 4-2 away defeat to Aston Villa (August 2008) is taken out of the equation, City squads have conceded just 0.2 goals per opening day road trip since 2009.

World Cup: Post 1 (No love for Russia)

Sting sang I hope the Russians love their children too back in 1985 and I’m sure they do but we’re not as keen on their team.

They are the worst team in the tournament according to FIFA rankings and there is definitely a massive advantage of being at home but also there is an increase in pressure. There is no escaping it and last time round Brazil were the home nation and got spanked 7-1 by Germany.

Russia kick off against Saudi Arabia today and they really need a win. Saudi Arabia are currently about 10.5 to win this match but we suspect that price will drop slightly today because it seems to give an enormous edge to home advantage when these teams are ranked equally by FIFA. Once Salah comes back then Egypt will be a real force and Uruguay with Cavani and Suarez leading the line are not easy opponents. Even if they beat Saudi Arabia they could easily lose to Uruguay and end up playing Egypt in a winner takes all game to finish the group.

We’re going to back them not to qualify at around 3.0 because that price should not move much if they beat Saudi Arabia but if they don’t get a win they are in trouble and we expect a drift and the chance to lock in some profit.

 

World Cup: Post 2 (Who’s tight)

We’ve all got a mate who’s tight but which teams are tight at the back and not likely to concede goals? In European qualifying England and Spain were the meanest at the back only letting in 3 goals in 10 matches. There were several teams that let in 4 goals which were Portugal, Germany and Croatia.

This gets you looking at Group B because Portugal and Spain are in that group together but then it gets even tighter

Spain conceded 3 goals in 10 qualifying matches

Portugal conceded 4 goals in 10 qualifying matches

Morocco conceded 0 goals in 6 qualifying matches

Iran conceded 2 goals in 10 qualifying matches

So over 36 matches these teams let in a total of 9 goals. You have the lowest values in Europe, African and Asian qualifying all in the same group. Morocco had three 0-0 draws in their 6 qualifying matches and look like they are going to be pretty dour. We don’t know about their style of football but the results don’t look great. This could be a group for upsets with a couple of 1-0 wins.

Portugal’s qualification was pretty easy and 32 goals in a group with the Faroes, Latvia and Andorra isn’t that great and they also blew up in the 2014 tournament and failed to get out of the group. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that happen again and with Spain’s managerial problems one of the big guns could not make it.

We’ll be looking to back both Morocco and Iran to qualify to small stakes.

World Cup: Post 1 (Who concedes)

The World Cup has expanded to 32 teams to doesn’t that mean we should find some poorer teams. Who could be the ones to let in a lot of goals and they could well help with top goalscorer betting. Last time round in the group stages Cameroon and Australia let in 9 goals and Honduras shipped 8.

It could well be a case of deja-vu as Australia let in 11 goals in their 10 qualification matches and again look to be pretty weak and needed the play-off to make it to the finals.

South Korea  and Saudi Arabia both let in 10 goals in their 10 AFC matches so could be a bit weak as well. It’s tricky to draw any conclusions from Africa as teams only play 6 matches but Nigeria let in more (6) than any of the other teams that qualified. In CONCACAF Mexico smashed the group and Panama were the ones who squeeked through, however, the did not score many or concede many so might not let in lots of goals.

In CONMEBOL Peru look the weakest team and would have finished 8th in qualifying if Bolivia hadn’t fielded an ineligible player and turning a 0-2 loss into a 3-0 win.

In Europa Poland topped their group but let in 14 goals during qualifying which is 5 more than anyone else.

Of these teams mentioned we can see that 2 of them, Australia and Peru, are in Group C so France could well be a team that will score some goals.  South Korea are in with Germany and Poland are in Group H which looks wide open.

The World Cup is here …… but where’s the data

The World Cup is just a few days away and we’re really looking forward to it. Loads of matches each day to get involved in and excitement all over the world.

We’ve had quite a few messages lately asking us where the data is. Last time round we prepared some data for the World Cup but it’s really hard to do and FIFA could not even vouch for the accuracy of the data so this time round we have not added any data to the site. We would have preferred to do so but instead we can take this time to get everything ready for next season in terms of data as that comes round quickly as soon as the World Cup is over.

We’ll add in a few WC2018 specific posts over the coming days as we have some ideas on what we will be betting on.