This is a big one.
Put simply, both teams need points. Lots of points. One to get back their momentum in the title chase, one to keep step with their rivals for fourth. In many of the most recent seasons that would be Utd for the former and Arsenal for the latter. This time the roles are reversed.
For Utd and Moyes, they find themselves in unknown territory. Moyes is in so much trouble in fact that, along with the boos he must endure at every match, his name troubles the top half of the next manager to be sacked market. Not really surprising after the Fulham match where a draw was snatched from the jaws of victory.
To be fair to Moyes, he’s getting a lot of flak for a team that’s not performing, in fact one that doesn’t look like it was last season’s champions. Age has caught up with some of the stalwarts, but there’s a lack of world class quality in the side as well. Motivation would seem to be a problem though, and that rests under the manager’s remit as much as the players.
Tactically against Fulham it was all pretty embarrassing. Utd had a huge proportion of the possession, but converted that into a Premier League record 81 crosses. Nothing wrong with that if you’re aiming at Andy Carrol, but few of these crosses actually found a Utd player. If at first it doesn’t succeed, well try again repeatedly seemed to be the mantra of the day. Maybe the record will be some conselation?
Fulham defender Dan Burn (all 6ft 7in of him) was even more scathing in his assessment of the tactics.
"I was just saying to the lads that I've never headed that many balls since the Conference. At the end of the day I'm happy for them to play like that.”
Whether Moyes will change tactics against Arsenal will be interesting, given the proportion of goals Arsenal have conceded from set plays this season, the crossing might actually yield the right result.
For Arsenal they need to pick themselves up after the stuffing they received at the hands of Liverpool. 4-0 down within 20 minutes and a final score of 5-1 actually flattered them given Liverpool’s dominance. We thought we’d show you the Suarez shot against the post rather than the goals (nice though they were). It works on two levels, one, the skill and shot are incredible, two, look at the Arsenal defence for the corner. No one is picking up one of the best strikers in the league.
Arsenal basically need to bounce back, and do it in style. Beating Manchester Utd this season is no longer the sign of champions elect, it’s the bare minimum. Given Arsenal’s aspirations of the title, they need to put a marker down and take Utd apart whilst scoring goals.
This is also the second in a difficult run of games which is also going to take in Liverpool again on Saturday, followed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Lose in this match and continue that through the other competitions and Arsenal will go from being a good bet for something, to out of everything in one February nightmare.
In terms of the odds for this match, Arsenal are the favourites best priced at 6/5 with Paddy Power. Manchester Utd can be backed at 11/4 with Bet365, and the draw is available at 28/11 with 888Sport.
For first goal scorers, Arsenal old boy Van Persie (scorer of the winner last time these teams met) and the current darling of the Emirates, Giroud, are the favourites at 6/1 with WillHill and Paddy Power respectively.
If it’s a tight match and Oxlade-Chamberlain gets a chance to run at tired legs in the second half then he’s worth a bet at 12/1 with Ladbrokes.
Are there any moneyback specials on this match? We’re glad you asked, of course there are, we’ve listed a selection of them below.
- Stan James will refund losing first and last scorer bets if there's a red card
- Paddy Power will refund losing correct score bets if the match ends nil nil
- Winner will refund on selected markets if a team wins from a losing position
If you want to join the discussion, then come and join the forum and also get access to the Today’s Offers page where we’ll have the bookmaker specials for all the Premier League matches.