Someone at Arsenal is not reading the script. It is probably Arsene Wenger. The coach that Arsenal fans love to hate and who should have resigned yonks ago having razed this once great club (apparently) has had the temerity to lead his charges to six wins in a row.
On Thursday night Arsenal travel to CSKA Mosco with one foot in the Europa League semi-final. They enjoy a 4-1 first-leg lead. Arsenal winning the title would bag them a spot in Europe next season. This is, like it or not, their stated goal at the start of each campaign. So Wenger is doing a pretty bang up job.
Still, this looked unlikely six games ago. They had just been beaten by Brighton. Now Brighton is the sort of place that Gunners fans wouldn’t even countenance going on holiday to, let alone a seaside resort where their team turn up to be embarrassed on the pitch. It was the fourth defeat in a row and there were suggestions Wenger shouldn’t even last the season.
To be fair, those criticisms were justified. A lot of the Arsenal displays were characterised by players failing to put in the required effort.
But since the extraordinary 2-0 win in Milan, they have not looked back. Watford, Milan (again), Stoke, CSKA and Southampton have all been beaten. They have scored 18 goals and conceded just four in that sequence.
So why do we get the feeling that they could come unstuck at CSKA? Well, for a start five of those victories all came at home. And the Milan shock at the San Siro aside, Arsenal are not inspirational travellers. They have won only three on the road in the league all season, losing eight. And we wouldn’t describe CSKA as a particularly easy place to go. It is likely to be extremely hostile considering recent political events.
That is not something to hang a wager on. Instead it is perfectly acceptable to reckon CSKA are the pick at 14/5 with Bet365. It’s a good price with Ladbrokes and William hill affording them more respect at 5/2 and 11/4 respectively. Arsenal are +100 with Bet365.
We have to remember that Arsenal do not need to win the match. That’s a dangerous position to be in for the context of a 90 minutes wager. Do they sit back? Do they go gung-ho? CSKA, naturally, have to come out and, of course, could be caught on the break.
A narrow defeat could be on the cards – a 2-1 correct score in favour of the hosts at +1100 with the green-listed firms appeals – while we would expect both teams to score. CSKA, though, are our top pick.