As Eminem once nearly sang, will the real Arsenal please stand up?
No team in the Premier League quite teeters between the sublime and the ridiculous, the brilliant and the awful, the glory and the despair quite like Arsene Wenger’s side, and Saturday’s north London derby against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur was the latest case in point.
A 5-2 victory over your most hated neighbours is a fantastic result, but only if it was ever that simple: when Tottenham were 1-0 up and in total control, who knows what would have happened had Emmanuel Adebayor not made a stupidly high tackle on Santi Cazorla and got himself sent off, much to the utter delight of the fans who used to cheer him on.
But he did, and from then on Arsenal turned round a situation that was looking bleak and delivered a fine performance, putting ten-man Spurs to the sword with a ruthless efficiency that they have not always displayed this season.
And yet if that kind of topsy-turvy match can happen from time to time for most teams, the truth is that it represented Arsenal’s season in a nutshell.
All year so far, the Gunners have gone from looking like a good side to looking like a rank bad one and to be an Arsenal supporter must be a frustrating experience.
For every accomplished display (the 2-0 win away at Liverpool, the 3-1 victory at West Ham) there have been performances so poor you could scarcely believe it, such as the 1-0 loss at Norwich City and the awful display at Old Trafford when losing 2-1 to Manchester United.
In the Champions League, Arsenal’s season is just as unpredictable, again straddling the familiar fine line between success and failure. The Gunners took just one point from two games in their double header with German side Schalke after a terrible home defeat and throwing away a 2-0 lead in the return match.
Group B is a wide-open, three-horse race for qualification as Schalke lead the group on eight points, with Arsenal a point behind and Greek outfit Olympiakos one point further back, and it means that the Gunners’ final home match of the group against French champions Montpellier is still of vital importance.
For the reasons outlined above, Arsenal have been a nightmere to punt on this season and the 3/10 quote on them picking up three points is the sort of thing that needs avoiding like the plague, but with no temptation towards the draw at 9/2 or the away win at 29/4, it is about finding a way to get value from an Arsenal win.
Because even Arsenal shouldn’t have any scares on Wednesday. Montpellier are a pale imitation of the side that won the Ligue 1 title last season and the Gunners should be putting one foot in the knock-out stages (or two, assuming Schalke beat Olympiakos in Gelsenkirchen) with a routine win.
Rene Girard’s side are languishing in 15th position in the French top division this year with just three wins from 13 matches and they are currently just two points above the relegation zone.
It really is after the Lord Mayor’s show stuff and it shows no sign of improving. La Paillade have just one point in the Champions League, no wins in the last four games, one victory in six away games and little to cheer about.
They do, however, tend to find the net. It is rarely more than one goal, but they have only failed to score once in 19 matches this season and they have notched in all nine away games.
As such, I like the 33/20 that Arsenal win in a game featuring over 3.5 goals. Arsenal are always likely to concede a goal – they have kept just one clean sheet in 15 games – but they have found their scoring boots to help out their leaky defence.
There have been an incredible 32 goals in Arsenal’s last five games and I see no reason why there will be a lack of attacking action at either end all of a sudden.
Eight of the Gunners’ games this season have seen at least four goals, including four of the last five, and there could be a bit of value in it happening again alongside a home win on Wednesday evening.