MLS All-Stars face English Premier League side Arsenal FC in the 2016 All-Star Game. Let’s look at both team’s Rosters and look at the past results, and with at least 3 goals having been scored in the L6 MLS All-Star Games, looking at the Over first in a game where Defense—and even winning in some respects—is not a huge priority seems like a solid pick for our knowing SBR website soccer picks.
Odds Overview: MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC
English Premier League side Arsenal FC heads across the pond and to a Avaya Stadium in San José, California on Thursday night to play the MLS All-Stars in a friendly in the Golden State as the Gunners begin their Summer tour of California. Oddsmakers here in Las Vegas have just (Wednesday morning) opened up the MLS All-Stars and Arsenal both at +160 with the Draw priced at +260 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). The Total (Goals) in this contest has opened up at 3½ with the Over priced at -120 for betting odds and the Under priced at Even money.
Arsenal (+550 to win 2016/17 English Premier League, at Intertops) and Manager Arsène Wenger will come into this game with more of a Friendly mindset, using the 90+ minutes of football in San José as a part-scrimmage, part show-off to the Americans while trying not to get any key players injured for the upcoming EPL season which begins next month. So, actually winning this game and trying to earn the Pride from doing so just won't be a big element here for the Gunners, whereas the collection of MLS All-Stars will definitely want to win this match and will come out with that expressed intent, as talked about by MLS All-Stars Head Coach Dominic Kinnear in the media on Tuesday.
Arsenal announced its traveling squad for the match—the first of two in California with Arsenal playing Liga MX side Chivas (Club Deportivo Guadalajara aka Chivas Guadalajara) in the StubHub Center in Carson on July 31—with Wenger bringing this 25-man squad to the States: GKs Petr Cech, David Ospina and Emiliano Martinez; DF' Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Héctor Bellerin, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers, MF's Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Krystian Bielik, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, and Gedion Zelalem; and FW's Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell, Chris Willock, Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom.
So from a handicapping POV, this Roster is theoretically very good for the MLS All-Stars and potentially the Under in the Totals market with key Gunners Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez, Olivier Girod, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Danny Welbeck all getting some Rest (and protection from a potential silly injury in a Friendly vs. the MLS All-Stars). In its last game, Arsenal and French second-division side RC Lens played to a 1-1 Draw in Lens as Oxlade-Chamberlain had the Gunners tying goal in the 82nd minute. So no magician Özil and talented scorers Sánchez and Girod, but the MLS All-Stars will have to worry about the speedy Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Xhaka, Walcott and Costa Rican Campbell.
The MLS All-Stars (Major League Soccer) squad looks as talented as it has ever been with some big-name former European stars and now MLS Designated Players like Didier Drogba (Chelsea FC, now Montreal FC), David Villa (Barcelona, Atlético Madrid now NYCFC), Kaká (AC Milan now Orlando City SC) and Andrea Pirlo (Juventus FC now NYCFC) giving this team some veteran savvy, star-power and ability to still create and score goals, despite these players' advanced ages and flight to professional soccer in the US at this point in their illustrious careers.
The MLS All-Stars will be coached by San José Earthquakes Head Coach Dominic Kinnear and he will have an embarrassment of riches with which to work. The MLS All-Stars Roster is: GKs David Bigham (Earthquakes) and GK Andre Blake (Union); DF's Steve Birnbaum (DC United), Laurent Ciman (Impact), Jelle Van Damme (LA Galaxy), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Andrew Farrell (Revolution), Keegan Rosenberry (Union) and Kendall Watson (Whitecaps); MFs Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC), Will Trapp (Crew), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Giovanni Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Timbers), Jermaine Jones (Rapids), Sacha Kljestan (RBNY) and captain and last year's game MVP Kaká (Orlando City SC); F's David Villa (NYCFC), Ignacio Piatti (Impact), Didier Drogba (Impact), Chris Wondolowski (Earthquakes), 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin (Orlando SC) and Clint Dempsey (Sounders).
So this team is absolutely loaded on the attack, but may actually be a little vulnerable on Defense. And who wants to expend all that energy and risk injury as a Defender in an All-Star game? Both of these notions seem good for the Over as a betting pick, and could (scoring-wise) make up for the absence of the extremely talented trio of Özil, Sánchez and Girod for Arsenal. Watch Jones, Dos Santos, Nagbe, Piatti, and, of course playmaker and scorer extraordinaire Villa in this match for the All-Stars.
Past MLS All-Star Game Results in “All-Stars vs. Guest” Format Results
2015—MLS All-Stars 2 Tottenham 1 (Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO)
2014—MLS All-Stars 2 Bayern Munich 1 (Providence Park, Portland, OR)
2013—AS Roma 3 MLS All-Stars 1 (Sporting Park, Kansas City, KS)
2012—MLS All-Stars 3 Chelsea 2 (PPL Park, Chester, PA)
2011—Manchester United 4 MLS All-Stars 0 (Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ)
2010—Manchester United 5 MLS All-Stars 2 (Reliant Stadium, Houston)
2009—MLS All-Stars 1 Everton 1* (Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT) *EVER W 4-3 on PK
2008—MLS All-Stars 3 West Ham United 2 (BMO Field, Toronto)
2007—MLS All-Stars 2 Celtic 0 (Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO)
2006—MLS All-Stars 1 Chelsea 0 (Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL)
2005—MLS All-Stars 4 Fulham 1 (Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, OH)
Format Trends, Gunners Without Some Really Key Players and San José Weather Forecast
As you can see, the MLS All-Stars have gone 7-3-1 in the 11 90-minute results in this format and have W4 straight in this game, outscoring their English, German and Scottish opponents by a combined 10-3 in the last four years. The skinny here may be that European clubs are willing to play this game but not be too scared or concerned too much about the final result whereas the Pride and site (Home soil) and Little Guy (MLS vs. European clubs) mentality may actually give the hosts annual psychological and motivational edges. This perceived desire to win here matters from a handicapping standpoint.
Then toss in a Roster with Forwards (Strikers) like Ivorian legend Drogba, Villa, Wondolowski, American ace Dempsey, the way-underrated Piatti and the electric Larin, and there is actually a massive imbalance at the position, especially with Frenchman Girod and Chilean missing and recovering from EURO 2016 play and Copa América Centenario, respectively. Kinnear might simply not have enough Time to use this glut of talent against this English Premier League side, which finished in 2nd place in the EPL table last season behind winners Leicester City (25/1 to win EPL, Intertops) after leapfrogging London neighbors Tottenham Hotspur (8/1 to win EPL, Intertops) in the last week of the EPL season.
The 11 games above saw a grand Total of 41 goals being scored, on an average of 3.73 gpg, with the L4 averaging 3.25 gpg with 2 Overs and 2 Unders having been played. So with the mentality of this game from arsenal's perspective, the MLS All-Stars riding a 4-game Win Streak in it and playing on American soil and this Roster, it's impossible to recommend anything but the MLS All-Stars to win and for some goals, goals, goals to be scored in this spot and this gorgeous setting with its beautiful, but temperate Summer weather. The Weather Channel forecast for San José on Thursday night is currently calling for Clear Skies, a Low of 63° with NW Winds of 10 to 15 mph and 64% Humidity. So, near perfect for everyone involved.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: MLS All-Stars 3 Arsenal 2
FREE SOCCER PICK: MLS All-Stars +160, Over 3½ -120
MLS ALL-STAR GAME PROPS BET: Both Teams To Score (Yes)
MLS PICKS RECORD LAST WEEK: 9-5-1 (Week 20)