Arsenal v Leicester City
Sunday February 14, 11:00pm
Leicester silenced their doubters once again with an extremely impressive 3-1 win at the Etihad last weekend. Having been matched at a 1000 ahead of the season to lift the Premier League, the Foxes are now into 3.55 to create the biggest shock since in the top division of English football since Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest won the title back in 1977-78, dethroning the mighty Liverpool in their first campaign in the division.
Arsenal are rated the main opposition to Claudio Ranieri’s side as they moved into 3.15 favourites for the title after they got back to winning ways at Bournemouth and another win here should see them go closer to the even money mark ahead of Spurs’ trip to City.
Arsenal had failed to score in three games heading into the Bournemouth game but their player of the season Mesut Ozil broke their rut, with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain following up soon after. Whilst they’ve struggled offensively, they’ve conceded just one goal in their last four and this came against Chelsea after they were reduced to 10 men following Per Mertesacker’s red card. That was their first defeat at the Emirates since the opening day of the season as their home record reads W7-D3-L2 though they’ve only scored more than two goals twice, but have managed six clean sheets in these 12 games.
Their home record against top-four sides since 2013/14 is W2-D5-L1 as they’ve beaten City this season and Liverpool back in 2013/14, with the sole defeat coming against Louis Van Gaal’s Man Utd last season. Five of these games had fewer than three goals, though Arsenal only managed two clean sheets, a pair of 0-0’s against Chelsea, but scored in every other game.
The win at Man City was probably the most impressive of Leicester’s 15 victories this season and it means they’ve now won three in a row and have only lost one of their last 18 matches, a 1-0 defeat at Anfield. They’ve been excellent defensively recently, conceding just twice in their last seven which is in contrast to earlier in the season when they managed just one clean sheet in their opening 12 games. Leicester’s away record this season is W8-D4-L1, with wins at the Etihad, White Hart Lane and Goodison Park in their last five away games. Leicester’s record at home and away against top-five sides this season is W2-D3-L1, with the sole defeat coming against Arsenal and four of these games had fewer than three goals and the first half was also goalless in four.
Arsenal’s price of 1.78 is the lowest that a side between 2nd and 4th has been when hosting the league leaders in the second half of the season since 2000/01, with the average price of the home side in that time being 2.60. Each home team has been odds-against. Part of the reason for their price is likely to be their 5-2 win at the King Power Stadium earlier in the season but Leicester are a very different side now as they’ve improved their defence particularly well.
Arsenal were last odds-on at home to a top-four side against Spurs earlier in the season and prior to that against City back in 2010/11. They drew both fixtures. Indeed, the draw looks to be the value in this one, particularly given Arsenal’s high draw tendency against top-four teams at home in recent times and Leicester’s draws against Man City, Man Utd and Spurs already this season.
Manchester City v Tottenham
Monday February 15, 3:15am
Following the defeat against Leicester, Manuel Pellegrini was asked whether the announcement that Pep Guardiola would be taking his job next season had any effect on the result and though he refused to use it as an excuse, it is certainly an unwanted distraction and it dominated the build up to the game. That’s not to take anything away from Leicester, who hold a five point lead over Spurs heading into this game week and if Mauricio Pochettino’s side can repeat Leicester’s feat last weekend, and record their fifth win in a row, then they will shorten up significantly from the 6.00 available for them to win the title.
City managed to maintain their strong home scoring record of scoring in 85 of their 89 home games since 2011/12 thanks to a late consolation goal courtesy of Sergio Aguero against Leicester but there can be no question that they were significantly outclassed by Claudio Ranieri’s side. Their home record this season is W9-D1-L3 and it is of interest that all the instances of them dropping points have come against current top-nine sides, as Southampton are the only team they’ve beaten at home that fall within that category.
After keeping clean sheets against Chelsea and Watford in their opening two home games of the season, City have since managed just two in their last 11 at the Etihad as they’ve felt the absence of their injured skipper Vincent Kompany, without whom they continue to look vulnerable defensively.
Spurs have had some fairly lenient fixtures in their last four, beating Sunderland and Watford at home and Palace and Norwich away, but they’ve been extremely convincing in victory scoring at least three goals in three of those wins and they probably should have done the same against Watford when they were somewhat wasteful in front of goal.
Their away record this season is an excellent W6-D5-L1 with that sole defeat coming at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season in a game they were unfortunate to lose as United only managed one shot on target and scored via an own goal. Since then Spurs have travelled to Leicester and Arsenal, drawing both, and add to that their 4-1 home win over City and it seems that Spurs are coping much better in games against the top-three than they have previously. Prior to this season their record against top-four finishers was W6-D5-L19 since 2011/12 and just W1-D2-12 on the road in this time, as they conceded 48 goals (3.2 GPG).
This fixture has been full of goals in the recent past as both teams have scored in seven of their last nine meetings since 2011/12 with eight seeing at least three goals and six seeing at least five. City are odds against for this one and the last time that was the case at the Etihad was against Chelsea last season. Part of the reason for that price is team news as Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are expected to miss out and whilst Kompany is back in training he’s unlikely to go straight back into the starting line-up. City have scored just five goals in the five games De Bruyne has missed since joining and they could struggle once again without these key players.