- Will Chelsea or Man U escape their current slump when they meet at Old Trafford this Sunday?
- Should Arsenal be massive underdogs at home vs league-leading Man City?
- Which sides offer bettors the best value in this week’s EPL action?
The first leg of the Champions League did not disappoint, the FA Cup delivered another upset, and the Carabao Cup prepares for the final. With everything going on, you may have forgotten that the Premier League is still chugging along. But this is not a week to miss. Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte finally have the chance to take their fight to the field when Man United faces Chelsea, while Arsenal meets the title favorites in back-to-back games.
Where’s the value? Let’s preview the odds provided by Bovada. (Learn the advantages and drawbacks of Bovada’s sportsbook.)
Manchester United (+111) vs Chelsea (+260), Draw (+225)
Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are pretty open about their disdain for one another. The Chelsea manager recently suggested that Mourinho may be suffering from senile dementia, which led the Man U manager to remind us that only one of them has a history of match-fixing. Conte fired back by calling Mourinho a “little man” … and on and on it went.
Now, finally, the two managers can clash where it counts — on the field. Chelsea (16-5-6, 53 points) travels to Old Trafford on Sunday (February 25th) to face Man United (17-5-5, 56 points) for matchday 28 of the Premier League season.
These are uncertain times for both clubs. United are looking to rebound after their loss to Newcastle, but the tension between Mourinho and his most valuable player, Paul Pogba, remains unresolved. The star midfielder has demanded a formational change that would allow him more freedom on the field, but Mourinho is stubbornly sticking to his guns.
Meanwhile, over at Chelsea, Conte isn’t expected to remain at his post past the summer and he’s been quick to blame the board for his squad’s poor performances of late. The Blues have only won two of their last six league fixtures, and have suffered losses to mid-table clubs Watford and Bournemouth.
Both Chelsea and United added some firepower to their attack over the January transfer window. Man U poached Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, and the Chilean striker’s early performances have been promising. Chelsea snapped up Olivier Giroud, and it turns out the Frenchman has a natural chemistry with Belgian Eden Hazard. They expect great things from the two in the coming weeks.
Neither club is at their best right now, but Chelsea have shown glimmers of brilliance while Man U have been consistently mediocre. Look no further than Chelsea’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona on Tuesday for an example of the Blues firing on all cylinders. They were extremely unlucky not to have beaten the Catalan giants, and if they can replicate that performance this weekend, they’ll leave Old Trafford with the full three points.
Pick: Chelsea (+260)
Arsenal (+270) vs Manchester City (-115), Draw (+295)
The fact that Arsenal (13-6-8, 45 points) are placed at +270 odds for a home game tells you everything you need to know about the Gunners right now. They’ve lost three of their last five league games, and there’s almost no chance of them finishing the season within the top four. They’ll face Man City (23-3-1, 72 points) in back-to-back games next, first for the Carabao Cup final and then for a league fixture. Let’s focus on the league match for now. (Man City are about -240 for the EFL final.)
Regardless of who wins the Cup final, Man City will be the favorites to win the league fixture. They’re currently 17 points clear of second place, have only lost a single league match this season, and are arguably the best club in Europe at the moment. Their shocking loss to League One side Wigan in the FA Cup crushed their hopes of winning the quad (and the real treble), but we shouldn’t read too much into the defeat. City were fighting a battle on four fronts, so something had to give. Also, don’t forget: Arsenal were eliminated even earlier by Nottingham Forest.
The Gunners lost Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud over the transfer window but managed to pick up BVB’s star striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It’s probably for the best. Sanchez was eager to jump ship and Giroud was spending way too much time on the bench. Aubameyang may be a difficult player to manage, but he’s a world-class striker and an extremely effective goalscorer. Especially now with Alexandre Lacazette out until at least late-March, Arsenal needs a player like Aubameyang.
This isn’t a must-win for either side. Arsenal’s best shot at Champions League qualification is through the Europa League, and a Carabao Cup win is far more important to them than another three points in the league. Manchester City are more-or-less guaranteed the EPL title, so their main focus now is the Champions League.
Picking Man City to lose has been a terrible strategy this season and picking Arsenal to win has backfired far too many times. The obvious pick is the correct one: Manchester City.
Pick: Manchester City (-115)