High-Profile Premier League Derby Soccer Pick: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Kevin Stott

Friday, April 24, 2015 1:46 PM GMT

Friday, Apr. 24, 2015 1:46 PM GMT

The hottest team in the English Premier League over the past two months, Arsenal, welcomes EPL leaders and probable 2014/2015 champions Chelsea to Emirates Stadium on Sunday for a London derby which could actually find the visiting Blues somewhat apathetic with a 10-point lead and 6 weeks to go. But is fading mighty Chelsea and backing the Gunners really worth a bet here?

Odds Overview
Arsenal vs. Chelsea, Sunday 16:00 (NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra, Telemundo (US), Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Go, Sky Go Extra, NOW TV (UK), 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT): English Premier League leaders Chelsea (23-7-2, 65 GF-26 GA, 76 points) head north to Emirates Stadium and North London on Sunday to face 2nd-place Arsenal (20-6-6, 63 GF-32 GA, 66 points) to dance with the Gunners in a derby in the weekend’s top matchup in the league in Week 33, but one that could have an anticlimactic feel to it with the Blues 10 points up in the waning season. Oddsmakers have hosts Arsenal +137 favorites with Chelsea decent +210 underdogs and the Draw priced at +229 (bet365) in the Three-Way (Winner) marketplace with the Total Goals set at 2½ Under -142 (Over +110, Paddy Power). The Both Teams To Score Prop wager sees the ‘Yes’ priced at -117 and the ‘No’ set at +100 (BetVictor). Some Prop wagers for this London showdown on Sunday: Draw No Bet: Arsenal -150, Chelsea +110 (Paddy Power); Correct Score: 0-0 +800, 1-1 +550, Arsenal 1-0 +700, Chelsea 1-0 +850, Arsenal 2-1 +900, Chelsea 2-1 +1200 (bet365); and, Draw No Bet: Arsenal -162, Chelsea +120 (bet365).

 

Chelsea FC
Chelsea (10-4-2 Away, 34 GF-19 GA) and wily manager José Mourinho pretty much wrapped up the league for all intents and purposes after luckily defeating 3rd-place Manchester United, 1-0 last weekend at Stamford Bridge on a goal by Eden Hazard (13 goals, 8 assists, +240 Anytime Goalscorer, Sky Bet) in a game where the Blues again created very little offense and had less shots on target than you have eyeballs. Here on Sunday against the Gunners, Chelsea could again be without the services of star striker Diego Costa (19 goals, hamstring injury)—although UK and offshore sportsbooks have soccer odds up for the Spaniard in the Anytime Goalscorer marketplace, so take that for what it’s worth—so Chelsea will have to turn to hobbled club legend Didier Drogba (3 goals, +250 Anytime Goalscorer, bet365), who is nursing an ankle injury and/or Loïc Rémy (5 goals, +290, Boylesports), who has his own injury issues (calf) at the Striker position. And much will be, and is already being made about the return of Cesc Fàbregas (3 goals, 16 assists, +600) to the Emirates, but to Sports Bettors, that’s really sort of a non-story, especially in the context of Chelsea’s possible ambivalence and the possibility/probability that Costa won’t be available. Without Costa, the Blues have reverted into a defensive-minded club caring little about Time of Possession or dominating on the offensive attack. It’s like, “Just Win Baby.” And another thing soccer handicappers need to be aware of—Mourinho could very well start Petr Cech in goal and give Thibaut Courtois a rest, not that there is a huge dropoff between 2 of the best 6 GKs on the planet for Chelsea. Expect the Blues to be true Geminis in this affair: Looking at times like they really want to win against their fierce rivals, and, at others, looking like they could care less about a Win and the 3 points. Motivation matters in betting and this is one of those rare games where a great team (Chelsea) may not be motivated at all, with a 10-point lead, definitely making the Draw (+229, bet365) worth a look here.

 

Arsenal FC
Arsenal (7-3-5 Away, 23 GF-19 GA) and manager Arsène Wenger have been the most in-form team in the English Premier League this 2015 calendar year, but the club finds themselves in a really weird position where they have pretty much locked down a UEFA Champions League spot for next season but are still too far behind (10 points) the team it’s chasing—these Blues from West London. With Arsenal’s incredible form (Home: WWWWWW, L6 Overall: WWWWWW), this game will could end up playing out as more of a Pride Game for both sides, with neither wanting to lose to the other just on sheer principle..a nice breeding ground for that aforementioned Draw. If Arsenal scores against Chelsea, expect Alexis Sánchez (Anytime Goalscorer, +210, bet365), to be the scorer as he has been absolutely unreal this season and a big reason this team seems to have been reborn. (Few will ever give Wenger the credit he justly deserves for what he has done.) The Gunners will also look to Olivier Giroud (+150), Mesut Özil (+275), Aaron Ramsey (+333), Danny Welbeck (+210), Theo Walcott (+275), Tomáš Rosický (+650) and Santi Cazorla (+333) for scoring, but expect the total number of shots in this game to be fairly low and you can tell by the thick vigorish Premier League soccer odds makers have put on the Under 2½ (-125 to -154 range), that few quality scoring attempts are being expected on Arsenal GK David Ospina and whomever Mourinho goes with in goal on Sunday for Chelsea.

 

Series Trends and Best Betting Approaches
Here at the Emirates Stadium, Chelsea is just 20-21-36 (98 GF-120 GA) lifetime against the Gunners in league play, while the Blues are 48-46-61 (201 GF-220 GA) overall against Arsenal in English Premier League play heading into this bad boy weekend. However, over the L6 meetings, the Blues are an unbeaten 4-2-0 (12 GF-2 GA) against the Gunners, shutting them out 2-0 in Week 7 at Stamford Bridge in the first meeting this season. And, as a matter of fact, Arsenal hasn’t scored a goal versus Chelsea over the L3 meetings (2-0, 6-0, 0-0), so the Under actually does seem like the safest route for our soccer pick although it does pain me to bet or suggest betting an Under in an Arsenal game. With neither team really having much to play for, this may be a match best watched and not wagered on, but it does feel like a somewhat boring stalemate type of fixture simply being played for some late season London Pride where goals from Sánchez and Hazard will leave everyone feeling about the same way they did before the game started. But should Chelsea defeat Arsenal here on Sunday in this high-profile derby, the Blues can then officially (mathematically) capture the EPL championship with a win over 18th-place Leicester City (7-7-18) on this coming Wednesday at King Power Stadium in Leicester (NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT.

 

Predicted Final Score: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1

EPL Free Soccer Pick: Under 2½ -125 (Matchbook), Both Teams To Score ‘Yes’ -117 (BetVictor)

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