Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his side needs to treat each of their remaining 15 Premier League games “like a cup final” if they are to achieve their ambition of finishing in the Champions League qualification places at the end of the season.
A 0-0 draw with Bolton last night prevented Arsenal from closing the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea, who were held to a 1-1 draw against Swansea on Tuesday.
But it is not only Chelsea that the Gunners are fighting for fourth with: as well as being five points off the Blues, Wenger’s men are a point behind Liverpool and two adrift of Newcastle in seventh.
This is reflected in bwin’s top four betting market, where Arsenal are only 3/1 sixth-favourites to secure a Champions League qualification spot behind Chelsea at 9/20 and Liverpool at 5/2.
So the first of Arsenal’s 15 cup finals comes against Blackburn at the Emirates in Saturday’s 1.00pm kick-off.
Rovers have scored in all of their league matches on the road this campaign and, significantly, have scored a single goal in eight of the 11 away fixtures.
The last meeting between these two gave a good indication that Arsenal would struggle to finish in the top four this season, with four goals conceded in hapless fashion against one of the favourites for relegation.
Coming hot on the heels of an 8-2 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford, Arsenal were in disarray.
But while the 4-3 defeat at Ewood Park represented Arsenal’s nadir, a recent blip has denied them the momentum needed to sustain their challenge at the very top of the table.
The Gunners have not picked up three points from a league game in four attempts, although this hasn’t stopped them from being installed as 1/4 favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market against Rovers.
For Blackburn have only won once in their last five and languish in 18th place in the Premier League table.
As such, an away success is priced at a hefty 21/2, with the draw at 9/2.
And it is the fact Arsenal are at home which makes Blackburn such long shots to secure a draw or victory at 13/5 in bwin’s double chance market.
For while the Gunners have lost three of their last four games, only Manchester United and Liverpool have come away from the Emirates with three points this season, with Arsenal winning seven of their 11 home games and sitting fourth in the home league table.
As such, they should have too much for a team with just a solitary away victory to their name in the league this season and who concede over two goals in their average match on the road.
Nevertheless, it could still be worth betting on Blackburn to score once at odds of 31/20.
Rovers have scored in all of their league matches on the road this campaign and, significantly, have scored a single goal in eight of their 11 away fixtures.
With Arsenal allowing the opposition to score one goal in four of their last eight home league games, those odds of 31/20 look worth taking advantage of.
A successful £25 free bet on Blackburn to score once against Arsenal is set to return £63.75, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
Given Arsenal will have to score twice to overcome Blackburn if the away side score once, a bet on a Gunners win with over 2.5 goals could also pay off at odds of 3/4.
After all, seven of Blackburn’s 11 aawy games have featured at least three goals this season.
Finally, a punt on Arsenal to score more goals in the second half than they do in the first looks appealing at 5/4.
Not only do Blackburn concede more after the interval than they do before the break, but Arsenal are twice as likely to score in the second 45 minutes of a home game than they are in the first.
Indeed, the majority of Arsenal’s goals have come in the second half of seven of their last nine matches at the Emirates.
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