Premier League Odds Update: Arsenal in shape to finish top four

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Jason Ence

January 18th, 2022

With the Premier League title race all but over, it’s time to look again at the updated odds for league futures.

While Manchester City are prohibitive betting favorites, there is value to be had in the race for Champions League positions. Let’s break down the teams vying for a top-four spot, and find you the best opportunity to make some money.

Fourth through eighth separated by six points

Entering Tuesday, Manchester City held an 11-point lead over Liverpool, with the Reds having a match in hand. Chelsea were third, two points behind Liverpool, and six clear of West Ham United.

However, the fourth spot looks to be up for grabs as we approach the run-in of the season. COVID-19 postponements have led to multiple teams having fewer than 22 matches played, the amount Manchester City and West Ham have already completed. Arsenal currently sit fifth, two points adrift of the Hammers but with two matches in hand.

Just two points separate the Gunners and sixth-place Tottenham, but the Spurs have four matches in hand on West Ham. Manchester United and Wolves sit just behind Tottenham, and both have a pair of matches in hand.

London giants have best chance

Arsenal (+175) was supposed to face Tottenham on Sunday for the North London Derby, but their match was postponed. However, Mikel Arteta has his team playing some of their best soccer of the season. They suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to City last time out, but Arsenal claimed victory in their previous four matches, outscoring their opponents 14-1 in the process.

Meanwhile, Tottenham (+188) having four matches in hand gives them an advantage over the field, given they are unbeaten in the league since the appointment of Antonio Conte. Spurs have won five and drawn three during his eight matches in charge while conceding just four goals, and Harry Kane has rediscovered his scoring form.

The injury to Heung-min Son is a concern, but taking the maximum points from their four extra matches would have Spurs knocking on the door for third place.

West Ham and Manchester United have tough roads ahead

The Hammers (+600) currently sit fourth, but their odds reflect their unlikely chance to stay there. Last year, West Ham was vying for a Champions League spot, but faded horribly down the stretch. They are in a bit of a slide again this season, taking just 14 of a possible 33 points from their last 11 matches.

Their 3-2 loss to Leeds this weekend ended a three-match win streak, with two of those victories coming against teams in the relegation zone. That said, their road ahead is brutal, with the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the league.

West Ham must travel to Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs, and Chelsea before hosting Arsenal and Manchester City late in the season.

Meanwhile, Manchester United (+225) have continued to struggle after the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as manager, and continue to drop points against inferior talent. Their 2-2 capitulation to Aston Villa at the weekend joined a poor 1-1 draw with Newcastle, as valuable points dropped in their last four matches, with their lone win coming against lowly Burnley.

United have a favorable stretch ahead, but their lack of depth could be their downfall. March sees them play Manchester City, Tottenham, and Liverpool — plus a second leg Champions League match against Atletico Madrid — in a 14-day span.

Don’t sleep on Wolves

The most interesting club in this fight is Wolves (+5000), who trail only City for the best defensive record in the league. With an impressive tally of just 15 goals allowed in 20 matches thus far, Wolves have not allowed a first-half goal in their last 13 fixtures, dating back to October.

They have allowed just one goal in their last four matches, a stunning free kick from Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse at the weekend, and have beaten United and drawn Chelsea in that span.

Their only defeats in their last nine matches were a 1-0 loss at Manchester City with 10 men, and a 1-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, who needed a 93rd-minute winner to take all three points.

The biggest issues Wolves have had is their inability to score, with just 17 tallied in those 20 matches. However, the return of Raul Jimenez from suspension has boosted their attack, as will the return to training on Monday of Hwang Hee-Chan, who has been out the past month with a hamstring injury.

What you should wager on

Of the teams currently vying for fourth, only Arsenal will not face Manchester City and Liverpool down the stretch. Tottenham will face Chelsea, City, Liverpool, and Manchester United all away from home, while Manchester United still have to travel to City, Liverpool, and Arsenal while hosting West Ham and Spurs.

Chelsea and Manchester United also have a pair of Champions League matches in February and March, with more possibly on the horizon. Additionally, West Ham is still in the grueling Europa League, and face the travel nightmares that go along with it.

For me, this gives Arsenal a huge advantage in the race for fourth place. Without European competition to navigate, they should have less fatigue and less fixture congestion. Tottenham have the matches in hand, but it also means their schedule will be a bit tighter as well. Additionally, the Gunners were shockingly eliminated from the FA Cup two weeks ago, so their only remaining fixture aside from the Premier League is a league cup semifinal.

If you’re looking for another sneaky bet, I would take Wolves to finish in the top six. They still have matches at Spurs, West Ham, Chelsea, and Liverpool and host City at home, but they have shown their defense can keep them in matches with all of those clubs. Taking points from any of them would be huge, plus they have another six matches against the bottom seven clubs in the table.

Top finish pick: Arsenal to finish top four (+175)