Brighton manager Gus Poyet may have his eye on more than just a win against Arsenal on Saturday, as this week the young manager expressed his dreams of someday managing the North Londoners, Arsenal. This day may come sooner than expected too, with Arsenal fans insisting Arsene Wenger to step down as another trophy less season looms.
For the moment though, Poyet will be hoping his Brighton team can turn draws into victories and record a memorable victory against the Gunners. After a first round 2-0 win against Newcastle, Brighton will be coming into this game bursting with the confidence to inflict yet another embarrassing cup exit on Arsenal. Whereas, for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger; this is a must-win game. It may not look like that, but after eight long years without a trophy, fans are becoming increasingly frustrated and bar a fantastic run in the Champions League, this is the last chance for Arsenal to win something.
Brighton Form: DDWWW Home Form: WWLDD Arsenal Form: WLWLD Away Form: LDDWW
The home side, Brighton, have only lost once in their last eight matches and are in fine form. They are currently 6th in the Championship table, but would be in a much healthier position if they could turn some of their draws into victories. They have drawn 5 of their last eight matches, including two consecutive draws. After a shaky start to the season Gus Poyet and his team have seemingly turned it around and are not in contention for promotion, but it seems that Brighton may have some trouble in closing games out after taking the lead. This is a problem that needs to be resolved quickly for Brighton if they wish to climb the league even further, but at the moment it seems to be a problem and so a bet on Arsenal to come from behind and win or draw at 18/5 may be worth a look.
Midfielder David Lopez and forward Craig Mackail-Smith have been scoring goals recently and may be the first point of call for Brighton’s chances of scoring on Saturday. Lopez has scored in the last two away draws at Birmingham and Brighton, including a tense 96th minute penalty at Ewood Park on Tuesday. The two players are 13/2 and a whopping 16/1 to score first against Arsenal on Saturday. However, left back Wayne Bridge may also be worth a look for an anytime goal scorer. The ex Premier League star has scored three times already this season and may hope to score against Arsenal once again. He offers exceptional value to do so at 8/1 to score anytime. These odds all represent good value and rightly so, Brighton struggle to convert chances and may find it much harder against a Premier League defence.
Even though the games are coming thick and fast for Arsenal, Wenger is expected to field his strongest possible team. However, he (Wenger) did the same against Bradford in hope of getting through, but his side still lacked creativity and clinical finishing. Since then, Arsenal have been very inconsistent in the Premier League, struggling against the ‘bigger’ teams (Chelsea, City and Swansea). But, against the ‘weaker’ teams Arsenal have been exceptional in recent weeks recording 5-2, 7-3 and 5-1 victories against Reading, Newcastle and West Ham respectively.
One thing that is for sure is that Arsenal have found their scoring boots and are averaging nearly 3 goals per game in their last 11 matches. The performances upfront from Walcott and Giroud have been very influential, but the return of midfield maestro Jack Wilshere has been pivotal in the success of Arsenal. The young Englishman has been in fine form controlling Arsenal both offensively and defensively. Wilshere is likely to play a key part in determining the result of Saturday and may be worth backing for ‘man of the match’ if available on Bet Victor or Ladbrokes. The midfielder has won this award a few times recently with his energetic performances driving the Gunners forward and this is likely to continue. As mentioned above, another player that has been in good form is Theo Walcott. The midfielder-come-striker has recently signed a new long-term deal and has been scoring plenty of goals as of late. After bagging another goal on Wednesday against West Ham the young forward will be bursting with confidence, and with his exceptional pace and clinical finishing he may be worth a bet on first goal scorer or at more safer odds, an anytime goal scorer at 6/5.
How will the game be won?
Both of these two teams like to play ‘proper football’ and pass the bass around exceptionally. So, it looks as if the match is going to be won in the midfield, which could play right into Arsenal’s hands. Wilshere and Cazorla’s performances are likely to dictate how this match will pan out and with both in fine form, it looks good for Arsenal’s chances.
The Gunners are a shade of odds on at 7/10 to win the match, but it won’t be easy, Brighton are in great form and have won their last two at home, including a 2-0 FA cup win against Premier League Newcastle. Brighton will certainly give Arsenal a good match and are likely to score, which means a both teams to score bet at 4/6 may also reap the rewards, but as mentioned above, the style Brighton play may suit Arsenal.
The match is likely to be a tight affair with a nervous Arsenal not wanting to crash out of another competition, but after their fantastic performance in the week, they should be full of confidence and should run out eventual winners despite Brighton’s good form.
Prediction: Brighton 1-3 Arsenal @ 12/1 (William Hill)
*Click here for all the latest odds on upcoming football matches