Arsenal legend and Betfair ambassador Lee Dixon is cautiously optimistic following his old team's improvement. He explains why he's backing them to take another three points at the DW Stadium...
Two Premier League wins out of two for Arsenal. Crisis? What crisis? My old team have turned the corner and are set to scamper up the table, landing their first trophy since 2005 and vindicating Arsene Wenger's football philosophy.
Well, not quite, but I am encouraged by victories over West Brom and Reading. Santi Cazorla was criticised for the way he won the penalty against the Baggies but nobody could deny his effectiveness when he scored a clinical hat-trick at the Madejski Stadium.
Arsenal are up to fifth, only two points behind Tottenham and Chelsea, and their matches over Christmas - after this they play Newcastle at home, Southampton away - are all winnable. The team needs to be freshened up and strengthened but anyone who expects Arsene Wenger to spend 30 million on a striker in January is dreaming.
Wenger's policy of buying youngsters and bringing players through the youth system is unlikely to change. There's not point moaning about it and it's a good sign that Jack Wilshire, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson have all signed new contracts.
This Saturday lunchtime Arsenal go to Wigan and they have had their problems there in the past. Roberto Martinez's men have a reputation for raising themselves for the visit of big teams but that hasn't really been the case this season as they've only managed two victories at the DW - against West Ham and Reading.
This is an ideal opportunity for Arsenal to take three points. Wigan have conceded the second most home goals in the Premier League and with the Gunners rampant at Reading they have the momentum to score a few here. I fancy Cazorla to continue his run but Opta tell me that Wigan have conceded more goals to defenders than any other Premier League team. Couple that with the strange fact that Thomas Vermaelen has scored in each of his three Premier League appearances against Wigan, netting four in total, and you might consider a bet on the Belgian.
Wigan offer little in attack - Jordi Gomez is a creative midfielder, who recently hit a hat-trick, but Franco Di Santo will hardly strike fear in to the Arsenal defenders - but do I trust Arsenal to keep a clean sheet? Not at the moment, so it's both teams to score at 1.645/8.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
I think Wigan will be quite open and a little naive in the centre of the pitch - Arsenal showed how they can dominate a side playing only two central midfielders at Reading on Monday. I think Arsenal will be keen to not concede the first goal, as Wigan will park the bus, as they did in their win at the Emirates in April. So I'd back Draw / Arsenal at [5.3] in HT/FT.
The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson
I am with Lee, I can’t see Wigan getting anything out of this game against the second best away defence in the league (statistically speaking, anyway). Arsenal have only conceded eight times in their nine away games. Wigan, meanwhile, have conceded in every home game this season, 17 goals in total. They have also conceded exactly two goals in eight of those home games and two or more in their last seven games home or away.
While I agree with Lee that Arsenal will win the game, my only concern is Wigan's ability to score. They failed to score against Man City and Chelsea when they came to the DW. Arsenal are available to win to nil @ [2.8] and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off that but I will be looking to get a better price from the correct score market by leaving out 0-1 and AUQ, and dutch backing Arsenal to win 0-2 and 0-3 which pays around 6.0 (5/1). If Arsenal can get an early lead then the 0-2 and 0-3 prices will decline giving you cashout or free bet options.
21 December 2012