Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal
Recommended Bets: Back Arsenal @ [2.16]; Back an Arsenal clean sheer @ [3.2]; Back under 2.5 goals @ [2.06].
Arsenal are in uncharacteristically poor form at the moment, but Dan 'The Betting Man' Fitch thinks that they will claim a much needed victory against Blackburn Rovers. Best Bet: Back Arsenal @ [2.16].
There are a lot of Premier League games on television at the moment that must have seemed a good idea at the time they were scheduled.
Take Arsenal's trip to Blackburn Rovers for instance. The schedulers would have been hoping that it would be a vital game in Arsenal's title challenge, but as that challenge ended around a fortnight ago, we're left with a match between two sides with very little to play for.
Still, if Arsenal need inspiration, they should consider the fact that they have now gone three league games without a win and that their arch-rivals Spurs could actually overtake them unless the Gunners get some more points on the board.
They face a mid-table Blackburn team who are absolutely no pushovers at home. Their last minute defeat to Everton a couple of weeks ago, was their first loss at home in eight league games and their first home defeat of 2010. This run was all the more impressive for the fact that the sequence of games saw both Chelsea and Manchester United visit Ewood Park.
Arsenal are hampered by their extensive list of injured players, which effectively killed off their title challenge. Manuel Almunia, Denilson, Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen are all still out, while Andrey Arshavin is a major doubt.
That represents half of Arsenal's first team and their squad lacks the strength in depth to be able to compensate for the loss. Of the replacements, Mikael Silvestre in particular, has been something of a liability.
It's questionable though, as to whether Blackburn have the attacking talents to take advantage of Arsenal's rickety defence. Rovers' top scorer this term has been midfielder David Dunn with eight league goals, while their top scoring striker Jason Roberts, has notched just five.
It's no surprise then that when the goal-scorer markets open on Betfair closer to kick off, that it will be Arsenal's forwards that are likely to lead the betting. Robin Van Persie should be priced at around [5.5] to score first and [2.4] to net at any time, with Nicklas Bendtner at [6.0] and [2.6]. For Blackburn, Nikola Kalinic will be around [9.5] and [4.0].
Given Blackburn's lack of potency and the fact that they don't concede many goals at home, under 2.5 goals looks good value at [2.06], with overs at [1.92].
Blackburn's defence should be boosted by Christopher Samba shaking off a groin strain and Brett Emerton is also due to be fit, having missed training this week.
Their recent record against Arsenal leads a lot to be desired. Blackburn have not won in their last seven meetings against Arsene Wenger's team and have lost the last four.
Blackburn are [3.8], with the draw at [3.5] and Arsenal at [2.16]. This is a tough game to predict. Blackburn have a great home record this season and have held the other three members of the 'big four' to draws at Ewood Park.
However, the price for an Arsenal win is tempting enough for me to recommend that you back them to sneak a narrow win. A 1-0 Arsenal win is [9.8], with 2-0 at [12.5] and 2-1 at [9.0].
With Blackburn likely to give Arsenal a tough evening, the price of [6.0] for a draw half time/Arsenal full time looks good value, with Arsenal/Arsenal available at [3.75]. The draw at half time also looks tempting at [2.26].
Finally, Arsenal's poor defensive record sees them at [3.2] to keep a clean sheet. Against most teams, I wouldn't touch that price, but against Blackburn's toothless attack, it's worth a punt.