Champions League Picks: Arsenal over Napoli

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:59 PM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 4:59 PM GMT

In arguably the most competitive Champions League group this season, SSC Napoli and Arsenal are headed for a dramatic showdown with both qualifying spots in Group F still to be decided. Join us as we breakdown this highly anticipated clash complete with soccer free picks.

Group leaders Arsenal need a draw to advance

At the start of the competition, Group F was dubbed the quintessential ‘Group of Death.’ And so it’s proven to be, as all top three favourites reach the last chapter of group action with a viable shot to advance as both spots are still left undecided despite Arsenal holding a three-point lead in the group.

Group leaders Arsenal have a three-point edge over both Dortmund and Napoli, second and third but level on nine points. While Arsenal need only a draw to advance, only a win would ensure they clinch top spot. Dortmund have a superior head-to-head record over both Arsenal and Napoli and a win over Marseille would see the Germans, last season’s runners-up in the competition, advance regardless of the outcome of the section’s match in Italy; in the event however of a three-way head-to-head on 12 points [insert dramatic shiver], advancement will be decided by the precise scorelines between the three teams. It can’t get more dramatic than that and so it goes without saying there is a huge premium on winning match day six for all the contenders.

As far as group qualification betting goes, Arsenal are massive -5000 favourites at Bet365 to advance into the knockout stages despite facing stiffer opposition in Napoli (tipped at +300 to advance). Dortmund, who are faced with the prospect of basement dwellers Marseille, by a long way the more straightforward path into the last 16, are listed as the mere -600 favourites to advance.

That’s a rather interesting market to say the least, even if it is in tune to the group’s current standings. Such disparity between the odds seems a bit biased, doing a bit of a disservice to all the teams involved. What’s more – and this is the really interesting bit –match-betting markets stand in stark contrast, hardly coming close to the same sort of confidence at least where Arsenal is concerned. Dortmund have the match wholeheartedly cornered in their camp, ringing in as the runaway favourites at -225 or higher across all sportsbook platforms. By contrast, the Napoli vs. Arsenal tilt is delicately poised on a tight betting line, which is a clear departure from the outlook in group betting markets.

Arsenal descend on Napoli as the +188 underdogs while Napoli are listed as the mere +150 favourites and the draw is listed at +260.

Arsenal have a solid 4-0-1 record in the competition, their lone loss coming to Dortmund at the Emirates. Arsenal began their bid with a 2-1 win over Marseille and followed that with a 2-0 win over Napoli on match day 2. While they did stumble 2-1 against Dortmund on match day 3, they went some way towards avenging that result with a 1-0 win in the reverse leg. On match day 5, it was back to business with a 2-0 win over Marseille.

Napoli opened their bid with a 2-1 win over Dortmund but followed with a defeat to Arsenal in London. They quickly bounced back against Group F whipping boys Marseille with a two straight wins, home and away, with a combined score of 5-2. They were dealt a setback in Dortmund however as the Bundesliga side avenged their opening loss with a 3-1 victory.

Soccer Betting Verdict: Much is being made of Arsenal needing only a draw to advance that some pundits are hailing it as the savvy soccer pick at +260 at Bet365. However, the premium on winning here couldn’t be any greater for either side and, hence, the real value has to be on the match win odds. But which side is the more likely to win? Arsenal at tempting +188 soccer odds? Or the hosts at equally tempting +150 soccer odds? Dilemma, dilemma.

Nothing can be taken for granted in this match in the absence of a clear odds-on-favourite. If there were however a balance to tip the scale, then it’s Arsenal’s sublime form this season, which has been impressive across all competitions, mind. Based on how brilliantly they’ve played in Premier League and Champions League they have the slight edge over Napoli in our opinion and that makes them our value soccer pick.

Soccer Free Picks: Arsenal to win outright at +150. 

[gameodds]8/244730/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

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