Weblog: The football punter

Mourinho likely to keep it tight at Arsenal

BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday

Arsene Wenger finally got a victory over Jose Mourinho at the 16th attempt but on that occasion last season Manchester United were not fully focused on Premier League matters and Arsenal face a tough task repeating that success at the Emirates.

Wenger has infamously found it difficult to get the better of Mourinho when it really matters - as it does in this clash between the teams who are fourth and second in the table - and a tight tussle seems certain.

Premier League leaders Manchester City are capable of blowing away any side but for the other members of the big six this type of contest tends to be much more of a grind and that is particularly the case when Mourinho's United are in action.

A draw does neither side any favours in their unlikely bid to chase down City but it looks a close game on paper and at the very least a low-scoring match would appear to offer the best betting value.

United have played three fixtures against their elite rivals this term and only two goals have been scored with Mourinho's men winning 1-0 against Tottenham, losing by the same score at Chelsea and strangling the life out of Liverpool in an Anfield stalemate.

Since Mourinho arrived in Manchester, his side have played away to their fellow big-six rivals eight times and scored just once, such is their determination to defend. With Eric Bailly and Phil Jones injured there may be a temptation for them to be even more protective.

United also have an issue in the final third where Romelu Lukaku has scored just once in his last 11 appearances and he won't find it easy to get back on the goal trail with Arsenal having kept three straight Premier League clean sheets.

Wenger's outfit are also getting it right at the other end with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil finding their best form, although a change is needed up front with seven-goal top-scorer Alexandre Lacazette injured.

Sanchez and Ozil were particularly impressive in the recent 2-0 success over Tottenham, a result which seems to have turned the course of the campaign for both north London clubs, but United are unlikely to allow them as much space as Spurs surprisingly gave them.

United have the Premier League's best defensive record with just eight goals conceded and silencing the Gunners is likely to be their main priority at the Emirates.

Under 2.5 goals

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Match in Focus


Swansea v Liverpool

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Swansea have conceded three or more goals just four times this season
Expert verdict
Liverpool thumped Swansea 5-0 at Anfield on Boxing Day but plenty has changed since and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds may have to work harder for their rewards in the reverse fixture in Wales. Carlos Carvalhal has since taken charge at the Liberty Stadium and they can stay competitive even if the silky-skilled Reds eventually take control.