Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Live on Sky Sports 1
The Gunners start the season as 7.26/1 fourth favourites to win the Premier League and there's every chance they can have a decent tilt at the title this year. Arsenal were seven points off Manchester City's pace last time out, but have reinforced well and managed to retain their key players, with Bacary Sagna the only regular starter to depart The Emirates this summer. Arsene Wenger knows how to win a league title and must be entering the coming season in confident mood following last weekend's 3-0 defeat of City in the Community Shield.
Just when it seemed that Palace had the manager they craved it all went wrong in abrupt fashion after Tony Pulis left the club by mutual consent on Thursday evening. The former Stoke manager famously rode to Palace's rescue when all looked lost last season. Nineteenth when he arrived in late November, the club ended the season well clear of the trouble in 11th. Pulis has been quiet in the transfer market this summer bringing in former Fulham defender Brede Hangeland and journeyman striker Fraizer Campbell alongside keeper Chris Kettings on a freebie from Blackpool. It seems that the club's lack of action in the transfer market, and more specifically his lack of control in that area of Palace's dealings, that was behind the decision to leave.
Pulis' assistant Keith Millen will be in charge for Saturday's clash with Arsenal.
Arsenal only lost once at home in the last campaign - an opening day shocker at the hands of Aston Villa. That result could put a dampener on anyone considering backing the Londoners at 1.261/4 (the shortest price in the Premier League match odds this weekend). Many will think lightning cannot strike twice and in truth the home fans really should be cheering a home win. Both league meetings finished 2-0 to the Arsenal last season and the Gunners were unbeaten at home following the Villa upset.
With the match odds prohibitively short we must look for better value elsewhere and two possible angles for supporting a home win at bigger prices leap out from last season's results. Both those matches were 0-0 at halftime with the Gunners scoring twice after the break. Draw/Arsenal is 4.77/2 to back while Arsenal -1 trades around 1.845/6.
Palace will surely lose a little of the belief and spirit they showed under Pulis and backing Arsenal with the handicap looks the right play for this match.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
That pair of results from 2013-14 would also suggest that under 2.5 is a spot of value at 2.245/4. The markets regularly expected goals from Arsenal last season but they did not always provide. Backed up by one of the league's best defensive partnerships in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal kept 17 clean sheets and often found that a goal or two was enough to beat the opposition.
But with Palace likely to be a little more shaky than usual I couldn't bring myself to back unders for this Saturday evening clash. Sadly, overs isn't particularly appealing at 1.794/5. The clean sheettrades at exactly the same price.
Sidemarket Selection - To Score
New signing Alexis Sanchez will be the name on everyone's lips but I'd rather look for a bigger price with a wager on Aaron Ramsey to score anytime. The Welshman was a goalscoring revelation last season and looks to have started this campaign on the same form, after a lovely goal in the Community Shield. Ramsey scored 18 times in 38 appearances last year but we should vbe able to get matched at 3.02/1 or better.
2pts Back Arsenal -1 @ 1.845/6
1pt Back Ramsey to score @ 3.02/1 or better