MANCHESTER UNITED host Arsenal on Monday Night Football. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets.
Manchester United v Arsenal | Monday 30th September 2019, 20:00 | Sky Sports
These are two teams synonymous with incapability and underachievement in the past five years or so. United just look like a mid-table side and if it wasn’t for their prestigious name and history I think most would think that way. They’ve struggled to discover a playing style and identity since Sir Alex Ferguson left and the decision making in a football sense has largely been atrocious.
Flogging Romelu Lukaku and not replacing him still boggles the mind, timing of outgoing transfers have been ridiculous. It’s been a long time since this side has been truly well balanced and that mish-mash of recruitment has been to their ultimate detriment and it looks a long way back.
Arsenal have been equally as confusing in the transfer window over the last half a dozen or so years. There’s been a real focus on recruiting dangerous attacking players and not so much on the defensive midfield and backline. Surprise, surprise they’ve kept just three away clean sheets in their last 32 Premier League games on the road.
Thankfully for Unai Emery, the injury list is shrinking with Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding and Callum Chambers all close to full fitness. Maybe they’ll fancy their chances of a rare clean sheet here, providing they don’t give away at spot kick.
One of the most interesting trends in underlying data this season involves United. The Red Devils actually rank third for Expected Goals (xG) ratio, decent going I hear you say.
However, when you discount set-piece situations, including penalties, their attacking output drops to 19th! Only Newcastle rank lower than United’s measly 0.60 xGA average. It shows there’s a real lack of creativity and their reliance on spotkicks is a big reason they’re not in the bottom half.
Even so, it will be a huge surprise if Arsenal keep their sheets clean against anyone at the moment. The Gunners are conceding 1.70 goals per-game, which is bad enough, but their xG against figure is at 2.00 which shows they’ve been a tad fortunate. Throw in Arsenal’s wretched record at Old Trafford and it makes for grim reading. Believe it or not, the North Londoners haven’t come back from OT with three points since 2006!
Manchester United have been much more dominant in the air since Harry Maguire came in, and that’s no surprise. Arsenal aren’t a team that punt it high and direct though and surely the in-form Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and new boy Nicolas Pepe will try use their pace to get in behind Maguire.
The betting angles
Naturally most people will be drawn to the goals markets here and that’s understandable whenever Arsenal are involved, but with the goal line set at 3.00 it’s not really something I’m willing to entertain. United are surprisingly only giving up 0.70 goals per-game and they have kept two clean sheets in three at home. Maybe this won’t play out the way you’d expect, it will be interesting to see.
I ultimately think whichever side loses this should be wholly embarrassed, therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if both take a point. The draw is the biggest price of the three in the 1X2 market and at 13/5 (BetVictor) I think that looks like a smidgen of value as I wouldn’t want to back either side to win at the given prices.
When a game is priced up like this with United at home trading around 29/20 and Arsenal at 2/1 it pretty much means it would be a pick’em if played on neutral territory, maybe slightly favouring Arsenal. In even looking games the draw is usually more like 11/5 so I’m willing to take a punt on it ending all-square given the prices.
I will also dip into the Cards markets as both teams rank relatively high this season. United are averaging 2.00 cards per-game and Arsenal are averaging three; chuck in the historic rivalry between the two and I can see a feisty game. We can back both teams to collect Over 1 Card at 11/8 when using Bet365’s BetBuilder feature and that looks a nice price to me. It’s as short as 4/5 elsewhere.
What’s more, we have Kevin Friend in charge and he ranks 4th for cards given in the league so far this season with 17 yellows and two reds shown in his games which when averaged out against other referees puts him in the top two for cards dished out alongside Anthony Taylor.