It’s a big day for the Big Five this Sunday (November 5th). Man City take on Arsenal, Man United take on Chelsea, and Spurs take on … Crystal Palace. Ok, you can strike that last one from the “must-see” list, but the other two are crucial matches that offer the Londoners a chance to dismantle the Manchester duopoly at the top of the table.
Will the London clubs make up ground, or is Manchester destined to be the Mecca of English soccer this season?
Manchester City (-225) vs Arsenal (+700), Draw (+450)
Manchester City (9-1-0, 28 points) have only won one of their last nine matches against Arsenal (6-1-3, 19 points) across all competitions (1-4-4), but that was the old Man City. This season, they’ve been nearly unstoppable. With a five-point buffer over the rest of the league, City are already threatening to run away with the title after just ten fixtures.
Sergio Aguero, who recently became City’s all-time leading goalscorer, is in magnificent form, and his young attacking counterpart, Gabriel Jesus, is well on his way to becoming a world-class striker. In midfield, Kevin De Bruyne has established himself as one of the most intelligent, creative playmakers in the world. And the world’s most expensive backline has proved to be a brilliant investment. As far as the Premier League goes, Pep Guardiola could scarcely ask to be in a more enviable position.
The same can’t be said for Arsenal. The Gunners have been drifting south for some time and they’re showing no signs of correcting course. While they boast a perfect 5-0-0 at the Emirates, their track record away (1-1-3) is nothing short of appalling. Their win against the relegation-threatened Everton last week was their first away win of the season.
To make matters worse, three of their stars — Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette, and Mesut Ozil — are nursing injuries. They should be cleared to play this Sunday but we shouldn’t expect to see them at their best.
It’s not often that you’ll see a team with as much cashay, with as much history, with as much name-recognition as Arsenal’s at +700, and bettors may see that number and immediately think “value.” But take a moment to consider this matchup objectively. The under-performing, battered Gunners, who have a horrendous away record, are traveling to play one of the greatest Premier League squads we’ve seen in recent years. Ignore Arsenal’s name-brand. The sensible pick here is City.
Pick: Manchester City (-225)
Chelsea (-138) vs Manchester United (+220) Draw (+230)
After their 3-0 unraveling against Roma on Tuesday, it’s hard to believe that Chelsea (6-1-3, 19 points) are still such big favorites for their match against Manchester United (7-2-1, 23 points) this Sunday.
Manchester United currently hold a perfect record at Old Trafford (5-0-0), but they’ve been a little underwhelming on the road (2-2-1). Especially when playing away games against the top teams, Jose Mourinho is more than happy to slow down the game and snatch the single point. His take-no-unnecessary-risks philosophy was on full display during their recent 0-0 stalemate against Liverpool.
Perhaps he’ll take the same approach this Sunday. But assuming that City defeat Arsenal (a very fair assumption), he’ll be left chasing a seven-point deficit in the event of a draw. Given how dominant Man City have been so far, that could be an insurmountable lead.
Chelsea are very beatable at the moment. Man U may be lackluster when playing away, but the Blues haven’t been too hot at home (2-1-2) either. The defending champs seem to be in a state of disarray. Morale in the locker room is low and, if the rumors are to be believed, owner Roman Abramovich has already decided to sack Antonio Conte. Mourinho should take advantage of this, snapping up three points and humiliating the club that unceremoniously ousted him.
Pick: Manchester United (+220)
Tottenham (-333) vs Crystal Palace (+1200), Draw (+575)
I don’t know if there’s much to say here. Tottenham (6-2-2, 20 points) just slayed Real Madrid, 3-1, and recently dismantled Liverpool, 4-1. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace (1-1-8, 4 points) continue to wallow at the bottom of the table.
With the rest of the top five facing each other this Sunday, this is a chance for Tottenham to improve their standing in the league. Whatever happens in the other two games, three more points for Tottenham will solidify their chances of grabbing a Champions League spot for next year and improve their hopes of finally claiming the title.
Crystal Palace staged an unbelievable upset against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago, but they have not followed up with similar results. This is Tottenham’s for the taking.
Pick: Tottenham (-333)