Arsenal 1.25, the draw 5.85, Wigan 12.50
The secret to winning Premiership titles is to have a consistently good season from the very first whistle in August to the final celebrations at the end of May. For all other teams in the top flight who aren’t Manchester United or Manchester City, the key to finishing in the European places or to avoid relegation is to peak at just the right time.
Arsenal may not have yet rediscovered the form to carry them through an entire campaign but they sure know how to finish a season. Second place is all but mathematically out of the question but Wenger’s men look to have consolidated third ahead of Spurs, Chelsea et al, and are now looking forward to automatic qualification for the Champions League without the unpleasantness of a qualifier.
In getting to this point, Arsenal have only lost one game out of their last eight in all competitions – an unexpected 2-1 reverse at the hands of QPR. Otherwise, they have seen off strong opposition in the league and have taken maximum points from Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs during that run of matches.
All of this leads up to tonight’s game and is there any point in backing against the Gunners to take three points against Roberto Martinez’ Wigan? With home advantage added into the mix the short answer would be ‘no’ but the Latics are also obeying the principle of peaking at the right time in order to achieve your own ambitions.
Wigan were hardly likely to trouble the top half of this season’s table but staying in the Premiership is their priority. Going into this match they are two points clear of third from bottom Bolton although defeat tonight will leave them having played two games more than Owen Coyle’s men. With Wolves and Blackburn looking increasingly doomed, it’s between three sides now for that relegation slot.
The fact that Wigan even have a sniff of survival is down to an impressive run of form that culminated in last week’s 1-0 win over Manchester United. Prior to that they were unlucky to lose to a brace of disputed goals at Chelsea and that remains their only defeat in six.
Injury news is mixed ahead of the game with Arsenal’s main doubt being Kieran Gibbs who is rated as 50/50. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny is suspended but Wenger is able to welcome back Gervinho, Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin into the squad.
Wigan meanwhile are waiting on news of Hugo Rodallega who has been out of the side since early March with a knee problem.
Wigan may be a tough outfit at times but there seems little point in betting against Arsenal tonight. Odds of 1.25 on a home win may not offer much value but this could just be your surest bet of the week.
As for other markets, Robin van Persie may dominate the headlines at present but he’s actually been outscored by Theo Walcott by three goals to two over the last five games. The Dutchman is priced at 2.95 to score the first or last goal and 1.50 to find the net at any stage of the game but the real value is in Walcott. My advice is to take the Englishman at odds of 6.25 to score first or at 2.35 to find the net at any time in the match. The only possible barrier to this could be if he is rested in favour of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as some reports suggest.
Finally, a 3-0 score line in favour of the home side at 7.25 is also worth considering but if you want to play it safe and keep your cash flow rolling, take the Arsenal win at 1.25.