Arsenal enter this weekend’s Premier League action safe in the knowledge that victory over Norwich City at the Emirates would see them rise to third in the table, with top-four rivals Chelsea and Tottenham both without a game due to the Blues’ FA Cup run.
The Gunners are the form team in the top flight alongside Manchester United, with five wins from their last six league matches, and their latest victory was an impressive display of resilience at the Hawthorns.
Despite the dismissal of Per Mertesacker and conceding a penalty that was converted by James Morrison, Arsenal stood firm in the last 20 minutes to hold on for a 2-1 victory over a committed West Brom.
The latest resurrection of Tomas Rosicky saw the Czech attacking midfielder roll back the years – just as he did in the home straight last season – to net an impressive brace.
Even Arsene Wenger could afford himself a quick smile, and that would have broadened on Sunday after Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Everton, which means Wenger’s side sit fifth in the table, just two points behind Chelsea and Spurs, and with a game in hand on the latter.
Is it pure coincidence that Arsenal’s best league form of the season has coincided with their exits from the Champions League and FA Cup? I think not. They are a team that play better without pressure and their rivals’ progress in the FA Cup and Europa League has benefited them no end.
And that’s represented in bwin’s top-four market, which sees the Gunners now priced at 4/11 to claim a Champions League spot, having been odds-against just a few short weeks ago.
They are an even shorter price to beat Norwich this weekend at 2/9, with the visitors a whopping 11/1 and the draw available at 5/1.
Norwich’s odds are a fair reflection on their awful form in 2013. Chris Hughton’s side have mustered just one victory since mid-December, against Everton on February 23rd.
They have also failed to score in seven of their 12 league matches in 2013, notching only seven goals in the process. And special mention must also go to their FA Cup defeat to Conference Premier side Luton Town.
The Canaries are only four points off the bottom three in 14th place and with Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic showing signs of form below them, Hughton will be precariously looking over his shoulder, even if they are currently as long as 11/1 to be relegated.
Norwich do, however, have good recent form against Arsenal. They did manage to turn the Gunners over 1-0 earlier in the season thanks to a solitary tap-in from Grant Holt, while they also secured an excellent point at the Emirates almost a year ago with a 3-3 draw.
Nevertheless, the Norfolk outfit have tasted victory just once on their travels this season, and with Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott reportedly back from injury for the home side, they won’t make it two wins this weekend.
At odds of 25/4, a 4-0, 5-0 or 6-0 home victory looks a standout price in the multiple score market, mainly because Arsenal are renowned flat-track bullies; they have netted six at home to Southampton this season, seven against Newcastle, five against West Ham and four against Reading.
Against a team troubled by scoring goals, this could be an excellent bet potentially worth £145 for any new customers using their free £20 bet after joining bwin.com.
However, it’s worth pointing out that the Gunners have only managed six clean sheets from their 22 home matches this season in all competitions.
With that in mind, it might be worth looking for value in Arsenal goalscorers and one man stands out on the basis of recent form: Santi Cazorla.
He has netted four times in his last five home Premier League matches and has a dozen league goals for the season, and at odds of 5/1, he could be a good poke to score first, while he is a 13/10 chance to notch at any time.
Any new customers could collect £120 for the little Spaniard to break the deadlock with his 13th strike of an impressive debut campaign in England this weekend.