Adrian Clarke is back with his latest Premier League Insights column previewing an action-packed Gameweek 26…
EXPECTING ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL ARSENAL VICTORY
Please win. Don’t do anything silly. That was the hope (and expectation) from most Gunners fans on Wednesday night as their heroes tackled a potentially awkward, long-awaited game in hand at home to Sean Dyche’s Everton.
It took a while to get going, but the home supporters got their wish with a routine 4-0 success. Drama-free, focused, and calm under pressure, the team ensured it was a very pleasing night at the office.
The message this Saturday will be…same again, lads.
While no Premier League match is ever a gimme, Bournemouth at home does present Arsenal with a very strong possibility of accruing three more precious points.
Gary O’Neil’s side have lost on eight of their 12 road trips to date, and their record against the current Top 10 makes X-rated viewing if you’re of a Cherries persuasion.
Played 13. Won 0. Drawn 4. Lost 9. Scored 7. Conceded 35.
Rated at 15.0 to win at Emirates Stadium, it would be some upset if the Dorset underdogs walk away with anything from their day trip to north London.
Backing Arsenal has to be the way in, but how?
The -2 handicap line is doable, but an ask at 2.2, tipping Arsenal & Over 2.5 appeals but is skinny at 1.8, so I’m looking elsewhere for a touch more value that sits somewhere in between.
How about backing Mikel Arteta’s side to win to nil? At 1.94, I have to say I’m on board!
Clean sheets have come easier for the table-toppers away from home, and this may have pushed the price out a touch, but this team is very capable of shutting Bournemouth out for 90 minutes.
O’Neil is not a defensive coach. He will want his side to ‘have a go’ but their season stats suggest it will be a tall order.
The Cherries have failed to score in 8 of 13 games against the Top 10, and across the campaign as a whole, they have blanked in 50% of their fixtures.
Scoring just once in their last five away games, that figure jumps to 58% away from the south coast.
That’s not all! Bournemouth have produced the fewest number of open-play shots and possess the lowest XG in open play too.
Across their last five away games, the Cherries are averaging eight shots and just 1.8 shots on target per match.
Based on this record, there’s every chance Arsenal can hold them at bay.
My former club have been a joy to watch this season, and in their last three outings, we’ve witnessed a rejuvenation of sorts. The sharpness is returning, and they look a top-class side.
With Leandro Trossard freshening up the forward line and all of the star attackers in good nick around him, this should be a pretty comfortable win for the Gunners.
Just like they did against the Toffees, this feels like a clean-sheet success in the making. My selection is Arsenal and BTTS NO (1.94).
A CLASH BETWEEN GOAL SHY FOREST & EVERTON MAKES THIS AN EASY PICK
13th-placed Nottingham Forest and 18th-placed Everton have scored fewer combined goals (35) than 14th-placed Leicester City (36).
Mad, isn’t it?
But it’s the truth, and that’s why I am drawn towards this crunch relegation six-pointer between Forest and the Toffees at the City Ground.
The Under 2.5 line is understandably priced up at 1.6, which is too low for me to buy into, so it’s a case of looking elsewhere for a bit of value.
First up, let’s get to the numbers.
As I’ve hinted at, these are the two lowest scorers in the Premier League so far.
Everton have just six goals all season away from Goodison Park, failing to hit the back of the net in seven of their 12 road trip matches.
With their one and only top-class centre forward, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, rarely fit enough to play, this is not exactly surprising.
Steve Cooper’s Forest own plenty of forwards, but it’s floating frontmen Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson who are their star turns. Both youngsters have caught the eye, but even so, they have just seven goals between them.
For the record, in open play, it is Nottingham Forest who have scored the fewest top-flight goals this term (10), and in news that will shock absolutely no one on Merseyside, it is Everton (11) who come next on that list.
Throw in the game state; a key match where defeat could be a real disaster for either side, and you have almost all the ingredients required for a tight, low-scoring affair.
Both Teams To Score NO is probably the best angle.
The Toffees have blanked in 44% of their games, and for Cooper’s boys, it’s 42%.
That said, they have only failed to score in one match at the City Ground up until this point. Picking up clean sheets in five home games does provide the confidence they can at least hold the visitors at bay.
In 16 of 24 games involving Forest this season, BTTS NO has landed, and for the Blues, it’s 15 from 24.
Considering that record and pondering a duel that’s considered very likely to see two goals or less according to the prices, I am willing to take the 1.77 with Matchbook on BTTS NO.
- ARSENAL & BTTS NO vs Bournemouth (1.94)
- Nottingham Forest vs Everton BTTS NO (1.77)
Watch Our Weekend Football Podcast
Subscribe to the Matchbook Betting Podcast here
Subscribe to the Matchbook YouTube channel here