Sunday's Premier League action starts with a great game as Arsenal try to do what they've struggled with recently: beat one of the big boys. Our capper is looking at the stats and the betting and has found some great odds for his free pick.
The Premier League champions face the FA Cup holders for the second time this season having shared seven goals already in the Premier League and Community Shield. The Gunners won that match 3-0 and they were held to a 2-2 draw at The Emirates.
Every time the African Cup of Nations is played, the question crops up. How much will Manchester City miss the continent’s star player Yaya Toure? Well they have won nine of their last 11 league games and Toure was absent in the two matches that they failed to get the maximum - the 1-1 draw with Everton and the clash with Burnley when City threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.
His form has picked up over the last dozen games, with six goals in nine matches to go with a more commanding presence in the City midfield. It’s not like they haven’t got quality players to come in, but they haven’t got anyone like the African Player of the Year.
The good news is Sergio Aguero’s return to first team football against Everton, the team with whom they were playing when he picked up his injury. It surely won’t take long for him to resume his great form and Arsenal’s defence is an ideal place to start, especially with the injury to Mathieu Debuchy and the lack of mobility of Per Mertesacker.
Arsene Wenger’s men haven’t put back-to-back away wins together in the Premier League yet this season and have looked particularly fragile on the road. They have picked up 15 points though, with the four wins coming at West Ham, West Brom, Sunderland and Aston Villa. The Gunners are generally flat track bullies on their away days with just one win against the current top six since October 29th, 2011 (when they beat Chelsea).
Despite their slightly iffy away form, they are still scoring goals and are still high on the shot stats. They have scored in all-but two away games, failing to find the back of the net at Chelsea and Southampton – the first and second best defences in the division (Manchester City are the fourth best incidentally).
The good news for Arsenal fans is the injury problems are easing, with Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil both in the squad for the 3-0 win over Stoke. Danny Welbeck is also closing in on a return to action to bolster an already strong attacking line-up.
Games between City and Arsenal have seen over 2.5 goals land in four of the last five, with nine in the match at the Etihad last season, when Arsenal were embarrassed 6-3 by Manuel Pellegrini’s men. I don’t see a repeat of that, especially seeing as the Gunners have allowed the second least amount of shots on their goal away from home. The difference here is that they are facing the team with the second most shots on target at home. The last time they faced a team with that record was at Stamford Bridge and they lost 2-0.
I can see Wenger’s defenders having their hands full with Aguero even if he isn’t match fit, but I’m not going with him to score. City have a ‘set move’ where they get to the goal line and cut the ball to one of their midfielders who generally slot them away. Obviously there’s no Toure, so the men looking for that ball are David Silva and ex-Gunner Samir Nasri. He’s how I am placing my soccer picks here. I’ve been watching him lately and it’s only a matter of time before he gets on the score sheet, fingers crossed it’s this week.
Free Soccer Pick: Samir Nasri to score anytime 3/1