Premier League Top Four Betting: Arsenal are gunning for that final Champions League spot
The race for a Champions League spot is heating up, with five Premier League teams all in the hunt for that vital fourth spot. Every time it looks like the door has opened for a team, they slip up, and that has created a fascinating betting market for us to get stuck into.
Premier League Top Four Betting
United currently sit in fourth, but Ralf Rangnick’s side are a difficult team to confidently assess. On one hand, his record since taking over is 8-1-4 in the league, picking up 28 points from a possible 39. While that looks solid on paper, some of the performances have been awful, and the dropped points have come against teams like Newcastle, Burnley, and Aston Villa, among others.
At the same time, United have ground out narrow wins with late goals against Crystal Palace, Norwich City, and West Ham. It has been far from pretty.
There is no doubting the attacking talent within the ranks at Old Trafford, but question marks remain over their defense. No team in the Premier League’s 11 has kept fewer clean sheets than Man United, with the Red Devils conceding in eight of their last 10 league games.
Their season will be defined in March with a run of games that will give fans nightmares — Manchester City away, followed by Tottenham at home, then the second leg of their Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, closely followed by a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.
Four matches in 14 days that will decide United’s season.
To think Arsenal are in this position after the opening five games of the season is quite incredible. The Gunners took six points from their first possible 15, scored twice, and conceded nine times. But in their last nine games their record is 7-1-1, and the sole defeat was to a last-minute winner against league leaders Manchester City.
Two goals in the last eight minutes against Wolves on Thursday meant that Mikel Arteta’s side completed a hugely important comeback and lifted the Gunners to within one point of United with two games in hand.
And while that might make you think Arsenal hold all the aces, the two games in hand are away to Chelsea and away to Tottenham. Two huge London derby games on the road. Arsenal’s away form this season has been their undoing (5-5-1), and they’ve picked up 2.23 points per game at home, compared to 1.45 points per game on their travels.
The good news for Arsenal is that Manchester United still have to come to the Emirates to face them in April, and Arteta’s men don’t have any other distractions in the form of domestic or European cups. While other teams may take their eye off the ball, Arsenal have no such worries and can be laser-focused on their pursuit for a top-four spot.
A month ago, Tottenham were +162 for a top-four spot and looked the best bet of the bunch under Antonio Conte, but a month is a long time in football. On January 19, Tottenham had just scored two stoppage-time goals to complete a thrilling comeback and beat Leicester 3-2 on the road. That took Conte’s record in the league to an impressive 6-0-3, and no team looked stronger.
Since then, they’ve lost four of their five games, including a 2-0 London derby defeat to Chelsea, in which they were completely outclassed, a 3-2 defeat at home to Southampton, in which they led with only 10 minutes to go, and defeats to Wolves and relegation-threatened Burnley.
In between those games, they went to the Etihad Stadium and beat Manchester City 3-2, which makes you think how the same team four days later go and lose to a Burnley side at the foot of the table.
Conte’s press conferences are getting more erratic as he questions whether he is the right man for the job, while Spurs, who were previously in touching distance of the top four, are now seven points off Man United.
Tottenham have the easiest run-in of the top-four contenders, but are they just too far off the pace?
West Ham and Wolves are the two forgotten sides in the betting but are still well in the hunt if results go their way. The Hammers still have to travel away to Liverpool, Tottenham, and Chelsea, which makes life difficult, and David Moyes’ men have won just one of the last five.
Wolves are interesting, as Manchester City are the only team in the league to have conceded fewer goals, but Norwich and Burnley are the only two sides to have scored fewer as well. That last-minute defeat to Arsenal slammed the brakes on their top-four ambitions, according to the sportsbooks.
These two sides face off on Sunday, with the loser all but out of the race for the top four.
Sun, February 27 2022, 2:00 PM
Arsenal usually find a way to mess up, but this may be a case of just not messing up as badly as everybody else. They are six points clear of Tottenham and have played the same number of games, so they should have Spurs covered. While they remain a point behind Manchester United, that should all change in March, as United have a horrific run of fixtures compared to the Gunners.
Of the four games in March, Arsenal’s opponents have an average points per game total of 1.17, whereas United’s opponents have an average PPG total of 2.11 and they have the Champions League to worry about.
The Gunners have won seven of their last nine in the league and can kick ahead of the chasing pack in March.