Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

For Arsenal, the season starts now

Football OlyBet 29.03.2024

With ten games to go, Arsenal are top of the Premier League. They know the drill. They have been here before. But can they go one better this time and snatch it? This weekend could make or break them.

A year ago, at this very same point, Arsenal had compiled 69 points and led Manchester City by five. Then everything unravelled: draws against Liverpool, West Ham, and Southampton were followed by losses to City, Brighton, and Nottingham Forest. Over the last ten games, plus five became minus five, and City waltzed away with the trophy.

Ever since Arsenal’s Invincibles ruled the league in 2003-04, they have come close several times. But an alarming pattern emerges from the last 20 years; when the title is within reach, they can not finish on a high. With ten games to go, Arsenal …

  • in 2007-08, led by plus one, finished minus four
  • in 2009-10, trailed by minus three, finished minus eleven
  • in 2010-11, trailed by minus three, finished minus twelve
  • in 2013-14, trailed by minus four, finished minus seven
  • in 2015-16, trailed by minus six, finished minus ten

They simply have not been able to put it together, and who says they are any better now? In four seasons, Mikel Arteta has guided Arsenal to just one meaningful trophy – the FA Cup in his very first half-season. They have certainly stepped up their game, making it back to the Champions League and reaching the quarter-finals again, but are they there yet?

Opta says no, giving Arsenal a 17.8 percent chance to finish first as opposed to City (47.1) and Liverpool (35.1). This three-way battle will be decided by small margins. After this weekend, the head-to-heads will be played; whoever wins will have everything in their hands. Should City and Arsenal draw at the Etihad, Liverpool will be handed a golden ticket.

Who will emerge as the top dog after the battle and which other games to enjoy over the weekend?

All times listed below are in Eastern European Standard Time (GMT+2).

Napoli – Atalanta

Saturday 13:30

Napoli snatched a 1-1 draw vs Inter before the national team break, but results like this will not be enough to get closer to their targets. There’s a nine-point gap to fourth place with Napoli seventh; they will have to be almost perfect in the final stretch. They have won their last four games vs Atalanta, but all of them have been rather close (2-1, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1).

Atalanta has finished in the top eight in seven consecutive seasons and are thereabouts again, as they currently hold sixth place (plus two compared to Napoli). Their recent form has not been great (DLLD in the last month, though all against the top teams), so the break was much needed. Both teams will likely not make it back to the top four, so this game will be the first step towards success or failure.

Bayern Munich – Borussia Dortmund

Saturday 19:30

With Bayer Leverkusen still undefeated and running away with the title, Bayern can not do much else than keep the pressure on. With eight games to go, the top two are ten points apart, so Bayern can really not slip up again. To their credit, they had a great flow before the break (5-2 vs Darmstadt; 8-1 vs Freiburg).

Der Klassiker is a different animal though, with Dortmund still fighting to keep their Champions League spot – they are fourth at the moment. In recent years, Bayern has always come out on top, especially when playing at home – Dortmund has not won a league game at the Allianz Arena since April 2014 (that was Guardiola vs Klopp, with Toni Kroos still at Bayern).

Manchester City – Arsenal

Sunday 18:30

City have been almost perfect vs Arsenal lately, winning 12 of their last 13 Premier League games; the only exception came in October, when Arsenal won 1-0 at home. Do not expect City to remain goalless this time – they have scored in each of their last 57 home games. Kevin De Bruyne has enjoyed playing Arsenal, with eight goals and five assists vs the Londoners.

Who could stop Arsenal at the moment though? They have won their last eight Premier League games, scoring 33 and conceding just four times. Kai Havertz has recently caught fire, as the German has scored in each of their last four league matches. Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka – should he be healthy enough to play – and Martin Ödegaard have created 34 chances for each other, so Arsenal are not a one-trick-pony.

The Betis Babble

OlyBet is the proud betting partner of Real Betis.

Next game: Sunday 17:15 @ Girona

A tight game away at Rayo Vallecano ended in a 0-2 defeat, meaning Betis have now lost three on the bounce. They are still seventh, but Villarreal and Getafe in ninth and tenth respectively closed the gap to just four points.

It will not be much easier this week, but Girona has had their fair share of problems recently. They have lost two out of three in March, with Mallorca and Getafe taking points from them (both 1-0). In December, the teams played out a 1-1 draw which came via an 88th minute goal from Betis. Girona has defeated Betis just once, back in 2010 when both played in Segunda.

For Betis, January signing Cedric Bakambu could return, with central defender Marc Bartra also back in training after going under the knife in October.


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