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Two weeks ago
Dec 1, 2017

Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

Why the difference between chance quantity and quality matters

How important is Arsenal's attacking trio?

Analysing Romelu Lukaku's form in more detail

Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United

Old rivals meet once again this Saturday, as Arsenal host Manchester United. Can Arsene Wenger close the gap between themselves and the red side of Manchester? Or will Jose Mourinho continue his impressive record against the Gunners? Read on to find out if there's value on offer in the Arsenal vs. Manchester United odds.

Live Arsenal vs. Manchester United odds

Chances created: Quality vs. Quantity

Manchester United have scored 32 goals in the league this season, only Manchester City have accumulated more (44). In comparison, Arsenal have scored 28 goals; the joint-third best record in the league yet still four behind this weekend's opponents.

When Manchester United have played any of the top six this season, no more than the single goal has been scored.

With this in mind, the expectation would be that United have churned out more goalscoring chances than Arsenal. However, this is not the case. This season, Arsenal have created 182 chances in the league, 38 more than the Red Devils.

Whilst Arsenal’s chance creation quantity has been higher than United’s, the quality of chance may not have been as good as that of Mourinho’s men.

Manchester United have averaged 12% of their shots inside the six-yard box, Wenger’s men have only accumulated half of the percentage of shots inside the oppositions six-yard box.

Generally speaking, shots inside the 18-yard box that aren’t classed as a “big chance” find the net 7% of the time whereas a shot from outside the box has around 3% chance (based on a simple expected goals model). With this in mind, shots within the six-yard box are more likely to be scored than shots from further out.

Despite this, it must be noted that Manchester United’s expected goals (xG) total of 27.67 is 4.33 fewer than their actual goals output. In contrast, Arsenal’s xG total of 29.40 is 1.4 more than their actual goals output and 1.73 more than United’s.

Manchester United will be looking to create quality goalscoring opportunities in relatively close range. It will be critical for Arsenal’s back line to prevent United from creating close-range opportunities – something that Mourinho’s United thrive in creating.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United betting: Arsenal’s dynamic trio

When Alexandre Lacazette joined Arsenal in the summer, he was joining what would become an impressive (albeit potentially short-lived) strikeforce alongside Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

Unfortunately, due to injuries and interest from other clubs, the three have not been on the pitch at the same time that often. When they have all featured, however, their output has been instant.

In the last five games where the trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette have started, they have seven goals and nine assists between them.

The form of the three of late is outstanding. In the last five Premier League outings, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette have seven goals and nine assists between them (despite none of the members playing all minutes across those games).

Huddersfield’s 5-0 hammering to Arsenal stands as a clear example of the dynamism available when the three are firing, with all three notching on the scoresheet.

Whilst the Emirates may not have long to enjoy their interplay (as Europe’s elite begin to circle for Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez), this Saturday’s clash against Manchester United may offer the additional push going forward to cause United’s defence some issues, and should be considered when looking at the Arsenal vs. Manchester United odds.

Lukaku’s disappointing form

Whilst Arsenal’s attacking force are currently going through a purple patch, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku has been struggling to find the net.

The shots that Lukaku is taking are from positions he is unlikely to score from. Based on his xG figures, only twice in his last ten games would Lukaku be expected to score a goal.

The Belgian forward started the season in scintillating form, scoring seven goals in as many Premier League games.

Yet a difficult run of games including a goalless draw at Liverpool and a loss at Huddersfield has meant that Lulaku is yet to rekindle the form that saw him top the goalscoring charts in September. He has scored just one goal in his last 10 games and failed to notch at Watford last time out despite United scoring four.

Whilst many are simply putting this down to a drop in his finishing in the past weeks in comparison to the start of the season, the statistics hold a more detailed analysis.

Below is a table of Romelu Lukaku’s expected goals (xG) for his last 10 Premier League appearances. 

Analysing Romelu Lukaku's form

Date

Opponent

Score

Individual goals

Individual xG

28/11/17

Watford

4-2

0

0.38

25/11/17

Brighton

1-0

0

0.83

18/11/17

Newcastle

4-1

0

0.74

05/11/17

Chelsea

0-1

0

0.05

28/10/17

Tottenham

1-0

0

0.25

21/10/17

Huddersfield

1-2

0

0.16

14/10/17

Liverpool

0-0

0

0.10

30/09/17

Crystal Palace

4-0

1

1.19

23/09/17

Southampton

1-0

1

0.89

17/09/17

Everton

4-0

1

1.23

If Lukaku’s lack of goals was simply down to poor finishing, then his expected goals would be comparable to when he was in form. 

This is not the case. Instead, the shots that he is taking are from positions unlikely to score from. Only twice in his last ten games has Lukaku been expected to score one of the chances that has been created.

In comparison, Lukaku’s xG score dipped below one only once in his opening four games; where Lukaku was consistently finding the net.

It is no surprise that Lukaku is failing to finish difficult chances; all of his goals this season have come from inside the box. Manchester United must create good quality goalscoring chances for Romelu Lukaku to find the net, as he is unlikely to finish from range.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United odds: Where is the value?

This Saturday’s clash between two old rivals may be crucial in shaping this season’s top four. With this in mind, bettors should expect Manchester United, away from home, to make it a cagey affair.

In the last five games where the trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette have started, they have seven goals and nine assists between them.

This season, Mourinho has gone into games against the so-called top six with a defensive approach, and there’s little reason for that to change against Arsenal. 

When Manchester United have played any of the top six this season, no more than the single goal has been scored. Under 2.25 goals is priced at 2.310* and will most likely be a popular bet.

Arsenal head into this game in good form and have won all of their home games this season. Manchester United have a disappointing away record so far this season, winning just three of their opening seven. This means Arsenal’s -0.25 handicap at 2.190* could offer value.

Alternatively, this weekend’s game is likely to be a hard-fought game, so cards betting could be another option worth considering in the Arsenal vs. Manchester United odds, particularly between two managers who have butted heads before.

Odds subject to change

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