MOTHPUNT 312 - BACK CRYSTAL PALACE TO BEAT ARSENAL, 1 UNIT @ 5.6
I've been trying to talk myself out of this one for a while. I've failed.
I'll start with the con. It's a biggie. Palace are not strong at home. Just 6 wins and 3 draws in front of their own fans last season, and that includes both the FA and League Cup campaigns, which ended the moment they reached Selhurst Park...
...but they did beat Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Swansea; four of last season's top eight. Also QPR and Leicester. And no-one else. They got done 0-2 by Hull. They couldn't score against Burnley. Even Sunderland walked away from Selhurst Park with three points!
Of course, so did Arsenal, but it was a close run thing; Arsenal were 2-0 up with 92 minutes played, but Palace still very nearly pinched a point; they completely dominated the second half, and ended up having more possession (55/45) and almost twice as many shots on goal as the visitors (22/12). It seems that that Palace struggle at home against weaker teams who sit back and deny them space; Arsenal aren't going to do that.
Anyway, that was last season. This season, Arsenal's frailties were very much apparent against West Ham; lots of possession, no end product, and some very ropey defending from set pieces. (Take a look at Coquelin's position (#34) for the Kouyate goal - it didn't affect the outcome, but what is he doing?). And now they have to travel to Selhurst Park, which may not be a fortress, but is also full of confidence, thanks to a *cough* slightly fortunate win last week, and the arrival of a certain Mr Cabaye.
And there's one big factor here (other than the differing states of elation/depression at the two clubs) which could have a huge impact; Crystal Palace are as good at scoring from set plays as Arsenal are terrible at defending them. 24 of Palace's 47 league goals last season came from set plays. I'm struggling to find stats for Arsenal's defensive record on set plays, but I know it's Very Bad.
Early season games are tough to find value in. I've only seen each team play once; drawing conclusions from such limited form is tricky, and relying on last season's stats is also a dangerous game. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that Palace are an
generous price here. I'm tipping them to win with a view to laying my stake off if (WHEN) Palace take the lead; you might very well want to take a safer option and just lay Arsenal.