EPL: Tough times as Gunners battle to stay in title picture

Updated: October 18, 2014
The return of players the calibre of Mikel Arteta (pictured) from injury are timely additions ahead of tonight's clash against Hull City

The return of players the calibre of Mikel Arteta (pictured) from injury are timely additions ahead of tonight’s clash against Hull City

EPL featured betting preview: Arsenal (2-4-1, 10 pts) v Hull City (2-3-2, 9 pts), Emirates Stadium, London, UK; Sunday, October 19, 1am

If you take the glass half-empty approach, Arsenal have won just two of their seven EPL games this season. They have several long-term injuries (again) and shareholders have again turned their gaze to the status of Arsene Wenger as manager. Today’s clash against Hull is an untimely reminder of the struggles Arsenal have endured in recent times. The Gunners faced the Tigers in last season’s FA Cup final and fell 2-0 behind inside eight minutes and needed a Kieran Gibbs’ goal-line clearance to stop going three-goals down. They fought back to force extra-time with Aaron Ramsay eventually nailing the winner.

This is a pivotal time for Arsenal – if they continue to drop points, the title could soon be beyond them. The two-goal defeat by Chelsea last time out extended their poor record against fellow title contenders. Midfielder Mikel Arteta has overcome a calf problem and is expected to return here. Calum Chambers is suspended and Laurent Koscielny is out with an Achille’s injury so full-back Nacho Monreal could play in central defence. Mesut Ozil faces two months out with a knee injury, while Theo Walcott is not ready to return from a similar injury. They have had no such problems against Hull in recent years.

Arsenal have won five EPL games in a row against Hull City since losing at home in their first ever top-flight meeting in September 2008. The Gunners have earned seven straight victories over Hull in all competitions, scoring 18 goals and conceding only five. However, Hull had a good win against Crystal Palace last time out, which will have settled the nerves after a tough start to the season. Manager Steve Bruce reverted to 3-5-2 for that game, which is the Tigers’ best formation. Hull had 13 players on international duty this week. The club has become a much more attractive proposition since promotion in 2012.

Hull are a different proposition since that FA Cup final, with summer signings Abel Hernandez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Gaston Ramirez, Mohamed Diame and Tom Ince adding flair. Ahmed Elmohamady has recovered from the back spasm that ruled him out of international duty with Egypt while in-form midfielder Diame will be assessed, having played for Senegal in the 1-0 defeat by Tunisia on Wednesday night. They are attempting to win successive League games for the first time in 13 months. The Tigers are one of only three clubs to have scored in each of their EPL fixtures this season, along with Chelsea and Everton.


Confirmed bets (card finalised)

Arsenal v Hull City +3.5 (one unit @ $2.75) – even with their long injury list, the Gunners can put a pretty decent starting XI on the park here, and they’ve had little trouble scoring against Hull in recent meetings. Nikica Jelavic has scored four goals in seven games this season for the Tigers, already equaling his Premier League goal tally from 2013-14 while Mohamed Diame has scored three goals in four league games for Hull (as many as he netted in his last 25 games for West Ham).

Everton v Aston Villa +1 (one unit @ $2.25) – Villa began the season in terrific form but have since endured a horrible run of fixtures, with this game against the Toffees completing a run of five in a row against past season’s top five teams. They started the sequence with a 1-0 win at Liverpool, but have since lost to Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City without scoring a goal. Their morale will also be boosted by the return from injury of Christian Benteke, who came off the bench in the last game, along with skipper Ron Vlaar.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea -1 (one unit @ $2.25) – Crystal Palace’s 1-0 at Selhurst Park last season ended a 12-match winless run against Chelsea in the league dating back to 1990. Only the Chelsea team of 2005-06, who won all of their opening seven matches, have accrued more points than the current Blues side at this stage of a Premier League season. They have scored 21 goals so far at an average of three per game. Diego Costa has scored nine goals in his first seven Premier League matches.


Most recent results: 2-0-0, +3.1 units; overall record: 9-3-8, +2.58 units

Chelsea WIN v Arsenal (one unit @ $1.70) WIN (2-0)

West Ham -1 v Queens Park Rangers (one unit @ $3.40) WIN (2-0)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to Ladbrokes (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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