Arsenal v Aston Villa
Sunday 15th May, 15:00
The Gunners can still salvage some small comforts from a disappointing season by clinching second place and finishing above rivals Tottenham. If Arsene Wenger's side pick up three points here at home to Villa and Spurs are beaten at already-relegated Newcastle then Arsenal will extend their 21-year record of finishing above their North London rivals.
Last weekend's gritty 2-2 draw at the Etihad, having twice fallen behind to Manchester City, showed that there is still some fight in this Arsenal side. And although there have been some disappointing dropped points in that period it's now eight games unbeaten for the Gunners.
Alexis Sanchez has scored six goals in his last seven appearances, while Olivier Giroud ended a nine-game barren spell with his goal at the weekend.
Villa halted an 11-game losing streak last weekend by churning out a goalless draw with Newcastle; a result that set the wheels in motion for a repeat meeting in the Championship next season.
The draw was also Villa's first clean sheet in 12 matches, but you still have to go back to the opening day of the season for the Villans' last victory on the road.
Jordan Ayew looks likely to end the season as the club's top scorer with a paltry seven goals, although both Rudy Gested and Scott Sinclair could still join or surpass the Ghanaian as they each go into the game with six goals to their name.
If you don't mind backing 1.171/6 shots, then Arsenal are the bet for you this weekend. I really can't see anything other than a comfortable home win. If you're more of the 'anything can happen in football' mind-set, then I can see why odds of 21.020/1 on a Villa win in what is essentially a three-horse race might appeal. The draw is a 9.89/1 shot and there may be some wriggle room for a trade on that one In-Play.
Personally, I won't be touching this market as I'm neither a heavy odds-on backer, nor a lover of backing bottom-of-the-league sides with nothing to play for on the last day of the season.
Instead I'm going to look for a play on the Asian Handicap market where we can get odds of around 2.206/5 on Arsenal -2.5. The Gunners haven't conceded in their last four meetings with Villa and won 4-0 and 5-0 in the last two clashes at the Emirates.
An in-form Alexis Sanchez will prove a handful for this brittle Aston Villa defence and if we see an early goal I fancy that the floodgates could open. We only need to look at how Eric Black's men crumbled in the final minutes against Watford to see how fragile their confidence is right now.
Finally, it's worth having a punt on Alexis Sanchez to score anytime in the game at odds of 1.910/11. The Chilean has been in fine form of late, scoring six goals in seven matches, and up against this poor Villa defence he can look to edge his season tally towards the 20-goal mark. On the flip side, if you're looking for player to Lay in this market then Olivier Giroud is too short at odds of 1.768/11 for a player that has managed just one goal in his last 16 Premier League appearances.
4pts Back Arsenal -2.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.26/5