Recently I posted this looking at Arsenal’s chances of winning the Premier League title based on a few recent statistics. And despite the odd setback, this is still the best League season and best chance of a title in years. But the bookies aren’t usually too far out with their projections, so what are the odds for each title contender, and just where do Arsenal stand in that?
The Odds At The Top
I started this before the weekend matches and have clearly had to change my thinking slightly, but at least it let me see the effect of one round of matches in the bookies’ minds. It remains to be seen if Arsenal can recover from the thrashing at Liverpool – a subject I have no intention of ever mentioning again. The oddsmakers had long narrowed down the true contenders to a field of three, and in my opinion all three are still in it. At Betfair.com, Chelsea have now become 6/5 favourites for the first time this season, with Man City dropping to second at 11/8 – this of course after Arsenal and City both dropped points. Arsenal, despite leading the table for a while, have never been favourites and have now dropped to a quite large 8/1. I’m not a big better, but I am tempted to go for this, because come Wednesday (tube strike permitting) we either beat Man U and the odds shorten again, or we lose to them and the title charge starts to look like a very long shot in reality, never mind the odds. You could get 14/1 on Arsenal at the start of the season, but I’d say 8/1 from the current position is actually better value – there was more risk in putting money down back in August, even if it’s turned out to be a risk worth taking.
Liverpool theoretically are within striking distance of the top, and their fixtures suggest some opportunities to gain ground, but they’re a long shot – though a few Scousers clearly got interested after Saturday, as they’ve shortened from 25/1 to 14/1.
The Case For Arsenal To Be Favourites
Up until Saturday you could argue that non-betting Arsenal supporters should have been a bit frustrated if they’d been paying attention to the odds (obviously the betting fraternity would be happy to see longer odds). Man City and Chelsea have remained favourites throughout the season, despite the fact that Arsenal have been the most consistent side and spent the most time at the head of the table. When you look at results and points gained for the last calendar year there’s certainly an argument to be made that Arsenal should have been considered favourites.
The Case Against Arsenal As Favourites
On the other hand, it was easy to see why Arsenal were never better than third in the odds. Three factors come into play: past performance against Man City and Chelsea, the remaining schedule, here on Arsenal.com, and the smaller squad size of Arsenal compared to the other two contenders.
It was less than two months ago when Arsenal let in six at the Etihad, as if you need reminding, and then only managed a scoreless draw with Chelsea at home a week later. We still need to play both again (visiting Chelsea on March 22 and ‘welcoming’ Man City the following week). Earlier in March there is a trip along the Seven Sisters to WHL, where we haven’t got a point for a couple of years. The seeming continued inability of Arsenal to beat their title rivals (not Spurs) is not encouraging, as in all likelihood Arsenal will need at least a win and a draw against Chelsea and City to still be competing for the top in April.
Can Arsenal Win The Title?
This is of course the only question that matters, and the answer is absolutely yes – even after the weekend, if we win every game from now, then it’s ours. Realistically Arsenal aren’t favourites, though I’d have argued there was a good case for it a month ago. Losing Walcott has left our forward play less varied than before; losing Ramsey has also reduced options, despite the return and development of the Ox. Flamini losing his head and picking up an unnecessary ban was the last thing we needed. Still, I remain somewhat optimistic of a bounceback, as long as it starts on Wednesday. It’s a three horse race, and even MOTD pundits have stopped talking about Man U challenging. If we can’t beat a team so clearly on the ropes then we’ve definitely blown it.
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