Swansea City v Arsenal
Saturday 14 January, 2017
Kick-Off - 15:00
After a week of cup football and all the uncertainty that brings, this weekend sees the return of the Premier League. Except there's plenty of uncertainty here too.
With the likes of Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva being relative newcomers at their clubs, identifying form and picking bets this weekend is going to be trickier than usual.
Nowhere is that more the case than at the Liberty stadium, where Paul Clement takes charge of his first league game as Swansea manager against a suddenly unpredictable Arsenal side. Fortunately there are still plenty of markets of interest.
After their team's performance in the first 70 minutes against Bournemouth, Arsenal fans must surely have been hoping for a more comfortable time against Preston in the FA Cup last weekend. It turned out to be anything but.
Both those games saw rousing comebacks spurred by an increasingly talismanic yet ever-infuriating Olivier Giroud. Those late performances went some way to saving face for Arsenal but there's no hiding just how poor they looked against two inferior sides for large parts of both games.
The Gunners have experienced another mid-season stutter after looking so promising early on and a few weeks ago would have been relishing the prospect of playing 19th placed Swansea on Saturday.
While it's still hard to look past Arsenal for the win, odds of 1.528/15 aren't really worth taking on particularly in light of their recent run of form and the unknown of a new look Swansea under the recently appointed Clement.
Clement takes charge of his first league game as Swansea manager after seeing his side go down 2-0 at fellow relegation strugglers Hull City in the FA Cup last weekend.
While the former Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Chelsea coach will be putting all his energies into staying up, such an uninspiring loss will have done little for his squad's confidence.
They did win their last league game, however, against Crystal Palace - showing there is still some fight and class left in south Wales. But it was club stalwart Alan Curtis who picked and prepared the team for that game shortly before he was unceremoniously sacked from the coaching staff by text message.
While that incident got Clement off on the wrong footing with Swansea fans he's now had a bit of time to settle into the new role.
The backroom team has started to take shape in the Englishman's own image - with the addition of Claude Makelele as assistant coach the standout appointment - and it will be interesting to see how they set up against Arsenal. While they have looked awful at times this season, the Swans head into this one as a great unknown. The fact they have picked up just 15 points from their 20 games this season explains why they go into this one at odds of around 7.26/1 for the win.
While the match odds market looks like one to avoid in this one, there are plenty of other markets worth considering.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 goals has occurred in eight of Arsenal's last 12 games in all competitions and 14 of Swansea's last 17. As such we can almost certainly expect some goals in this game. Punters might be slightly put off by the understandably short odds of 1.635/8 however.
Instead it's worth having a look at over 3.5 goals, which has landed in five of Arsenal's last nine games as well as in four of Swansea's last nine. While we should be expecting that score to be trading somewhere near the evens mark, it is actually being offered up at a much more generous 2.68/5.
Half With Most Goals
With the appointment of a new manager, you would expect to see Swansea come racing out of the blocks in the first-half and be more focused and organised than they were under the previous regime.
While that would suggest a tight, low-scoring opening to the game, odds of 1.84/5 on the second-half to have most goals feels just too low to take on.
Instead, of particular interest is the Half-Time/Full-Time market, where the Draw/Arsenal result has paid off in four of the Gunners' last 15 league games. While that figure doesn't seem all that high, it has occurred slightly more often than the odds here of 5.04/1 suggest.
With Clement's aforementioned appointment we have to expect the Swans to start well before Arsenal begin to break them down and capitalise in the second-half. The scoreline being goalless at half-time before Arsenal go on to win seems like a decent possibility - particularly with the Gunners' recent penchant for slow starts and late goals.
Back Over 3.5 goals @ 2.68/5
Back Draw/Arsenal in the Half-Time/Full-Time market @ 5.04/1
*You can follow Evan on Twitter @ev_bartlett