Soccer Picks: Aston Villa vs. Arsenal in Premier League

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 4:05 PM GMT

Arsenal descend on Aston Villa at the weekend, looking to set the record straight. Join us as we preview this highly anticipated tilt in EPL week 21 betting, complete with soccer free picks for your consideration.

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Arsenal’s view from the top

Arsenal are enjoying the view from the top, sat pretty in title position after 20 laps around the league with a 14-3-3 mark and 45 points. Not that sportsbooks are putting any stock into it – well, not much premium – seeing they are tipped third for the title at +400 at Bet365, behind Man City at +100 and Chelsea at +333. But if you are interested in making a long term bet on English top flight, everything is in play in what is proving to be a wide open season and Arsenal at the top of the pile right now certainly gives them the notional advantage, which, in turn, makes them the value soccer pick in futures markets at the start of 2014.

Arsenal were on the receiving end of a 3-1 shock upset by Aston Villa at the Emirates to kick start the season, a result that – though, we’d opportunely predicted in our weekly soccer picks – caused seismic shockwaves so forceful that they became the catalyst for all and sundry, somewhat prematurely, to push the panic button. Doom and gloom prophecies for the Gunners this season resonated amongst experts and pundits alike amidst warnings of an imminent negative spiral issued by the league’s managers thoughtfully for Arsene Wenger’s benefit.

Fast forward 20 laps, colour the world shocked. Arsenal brushed aside the opening debacle to claw their way up the table to its pinnacle and upon reaching those dizzying heights they haven’t relinquish it, save for a few days over Christmas when Liverpool ascended to the top for the first time since 2008, but let’s not nitpick.

Point is, Arsenal are in first place right now and they’ll be looking to hold on to that coveted spot not only for the foreseeable but also down the stretch to the finish line. Arsene and Co. have eight years of missed opportunities to atone for after all. 

Fortunately for Gooners’ faithful, the New Year started brightly with Arsenal returning to the top after beating West Ham United on Boxing Day and with an ensuing 1-0 victory over Newcastle United on December 29, they ensured they’d finish the year sitting lotus atop.

Since finishing 2013 with back-to-back wins, Arsenal have gone on to record another two wins  at the Emirates; they beat Cardiff City 2-0 in Premier League and sent Tottenham out of FA Cup in the third round with a 2-0 victory. The solid start to 2014 extends their undefeated run of form to five in a row. And it’s looking promising for a sixth straight positive result with -188 soccer odds listed on the away win at Villa Park.

Since Aston Villa’s auspicious win over Arsenal to start the season their journey through EPL laps has been as arduous and laboured as the March of the Penguins gruelling trek between the ocean and their ancestral breeding grounds. Survival is hanging in the balance as disappointments, failures, missed opportunities and injuries mount. Sat deceivingly mid-table, in 11th place on a 6-5-9 mark and 23 points, they are only six points clear of the drop zone – what amounts to a mere two matches.

Aston Villa will be feeling the pressure to replicate the result they accomplished against Arsenal, prove it wasn’t a one-off. Given they lost three on the trot – to Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle – a immediately afterwards; only managed to win five more matches since and just two at home (2-2-6); and, more importantly, haven’t won at home since a 2-0 victory over Cardiff City on November 9, it’s clear it was exactly that. Hence, their magnificently large soccer odds of +500 at Bet365 to win outright at home.

Soccer Betting Verdict: It will be a huge upset if Aston Villa were to mastermind the second straight upset to sweep the series over Arsenal this season, make no mistake. But conventional wisdom and current form both suggest the probability of such an occurrence is low. In-form Arsenal leap off the page as the smart soccer pick in every sense. Take Arsenal at -188 to win outright at Bet365.

Soccer Free Picks: Arsenal at -188 at Bet365