Arsenal and Man Utd meet at The Emirates on May 7 with both teams outside the top four, and few would have predicted that at the start of the season. Arsenal have never failed to finish outside the top four during Arsene Wenger’s 20-year tenure, while Man Utd smashed the world record transfer fee in the summer and were supposed to challenge for the title.
As it stands Man Utd are 16 points behind leaders Chelsea and Arsenal are 21 points off the top. The best either can hope for is a slip up from Man City or Liverpool and for them to sneak into the top four. Man Utd are now just one points behind fourth-placed City, while Arsenal are six points back but have a game in hand. A top four finish means a place in next season’s Champions League and all the riches and pulling power that brings, but it could be beyond their grasp: Man Utd are now 7/2 and Arsenal are 6/1. Man Utd have a backup plan because they are in the Europa League semi-finals and if they win it – which they are favourites to do – they qualify for the 2017/18 Champions League as a result.
For Arsenal they simply have to win all their games and hope the others slip up. They are unused to being in this position, but it has been a positively miserable campaign for Wenger’s men. It started so well and the campaign was full of promise after they beat Chelsea 3-0 in September, but as usual it all unravelled and it has turned into their worst league season ever under Wenger. All the old failings are apparent: a soft centre, a lack of leadership, defensive indiscipline, conceding goals from set pieces, losing games they should have won in the cold northwest. They have now lost nine of 33 games this season and a mini-revival following a switch to a three at the back was ruined when they lost 2-0 to bitter rivals Tottenham last time out. They are 17 points below Spurs now and will finish a Premiership campaign below them for the first time in 22 years.
It is very difficult to envisage Arsenal winning this one. They are the favourites, 21/20 with William Hill, and two things will play into their hands: Man Utd’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out with a bad injury, and Man Utd will be tired because they travel to Spain to play Celta Vigo three days before this game, while Arsenal have all week to rest. Still, it is difficult to envisage Arsenal winning it, because they are just been so poor of late. These two drew 1-1 when they met in November, despite Man Utd bossing the game. Jose Mourinho’s men just could not make their dominance count, and that has been the story of their season.
Man Utd are the draw kings of the Premiership, having drawn a remarkable 14 games this season, a league high. In almost all of them they have been the better team, but have struggled to create enough chances and been wasteful in front of goal. Injury to Ibrahimovic, their one shining light, will exacerbate that situation. A draw looks about right here and the 27/10 Paddy Power is offering on this outcome looks good. Bet365 and Sportingbet have 7/10 on both teams to score, which looks a great option as Arsenal have been defending terribly and even without Ibrahimovic Man Utd will fancy their chances of scoring, while Arsenal usually manage to hit the back of the net at home. The 13/2 William Hill, Bet Victor and other green listed bookmakers are offering on a 1-1 draw also looks good.