Arsenal v Man Utd
Arsenal made a huge play for the top four with a 4-2 win over London rivals Chelsea in midweek. Champions League football seemed t o be slipping from their grasp after three successive defeats, though the victory means they head into the weekend level on points with North London rivals Spurs in fourth. There are bound to be a few twists and turns in this race, and a defeat here would blow it wide open yet again.
Despite Manchester United beating Norwich at the weekend, they were overrun by a rampant Liverpool side who took a 4-0 victory at Anfield. That result showed just how far United have dropped off, and new manager Erik Ten Haag will have a serious job on his hands to return this club to the top.
Despite how poor the Red Devils have been at points this season, they have a strong record against the teams around them. Indeed, they’ve won six of seven outings against the sides currently two places either side of them in the table, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and Wolves, scoring at least three times in each encounter with both Arsenal and Spurs.
While the result is up in the air, we’d expect goals here with both defence capable of being leaky. The reverse fixture ended 3-2 to the Manchester side, while half of United’s last eight league outings have seen over 4.5 goals land.
OVER 2.5 GOALS
Leicester v Aston Villa
Villa have now lost four on the spin and while the first three defeats were by one-goal margins to West Ham, Arsenal and Wolves, last time out they were humbled 4-0 at home to Tottenham. That means that including an FA Cup tie with Man Utd, they’ve now lost seven of their past nine when facing current top-half sides, with their sole victory over this period garnered when facing Brighton.
Leicester continue to suffer from inconsistency, with their past two outings seeing them lose to a last-gasp Bruno Guimaraes strike on the road at Newcastle, before again conceding at the death as they were held to a stalemate away at Everton. However, that defeat to the Magpies is their only one from their past seven in all competitions (W3-D3-L1), and it’s noticeable that results at the King Power have been noticeably better.
Indeed, the Foxes are a highly impressive W10-D3-L1 on their own turf going back to late November, including five wins from their past six there. They bagged at least two goals in 10 of those games as well, as well as hitting the back of the net four times on four separate occasions. Of the four games they failed to win at the King Power over this period, three were against current top-half sides domestically, while the other was when hosting PSV in Europe. At home domestically, they’ve won six of seven matches against bottom-half sides this term.
LEICESTER TO WIN
Man City v Watford
A 3-0 win over Brighton wasn’t as comfortable as it seemed for the champions as it took nearly an hour for the deadlock to be broken in midweek, though they’ll be delighted with the three points over a side that had beaten Arsenal and Spurs in their last two outings. This title race is likely to go right down to the wire, and any slip up could prove incredibly costly, so they can’t afford to underestimate this Watford side.
It seems likely that Watford will be playing Championship football next season with seven points separating them from safety heading into this one, and their form doesn’t suggest they can make up that ground. They’ve currently won just two of their last 20 outings with a W2-D3-L15 record since beating Man United at home in November. In fact, they haven’t picked up a single point at Vicarage Road since that result, so it could be something of a saving grace that this will be at the Etihad.
City have been known to slip up from time to time, though with so much on the line we can’t see them not coming away from this one with maximum points. They’ve won all nine outings with bottom-six clubs this season, conceding just twice, while their home results against that bracket have been 7-0, 3-0, 2-0 and 5-0 against Leeds, Everton, Burnley and Norwich, respectively, so the handicap looks the best market for this encounter.
MAN CITY -1 HANDICAP
Brentford v Spurs
Brentford have won five of their last six games including wins over London rivals West Ham and Chelsea. This run comes at a surprise for everyone when you take into account the fact they had lost nine of their previous 11 games before this run of form, and much of it can be tied into the form of Christian Eriksen, who’ll be relishing the opportunity to face his former club.
Tottenham have been playing very well in 2022 and now look like favourites to take the fourth spot and secure Champions League football for next season. However, last week's slip-up against Brighton may make things harder than expected, and defeat here would open up the race massively.
Conte’s side have been the highest-scoring team since the start of the new year, with 31 goals to their name already and that makes us lean towards an overs bet for this game. Since the start of the year, Brentford have had over 2.5 goals in ten of their last fifteen games and in Spurs’ last fifteen, nine have had the same outcome, with both teams possessing more than enough attacking talent to cause serious problems. This one could be a thriller.
OVER 2.5 GOALS
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