Lee Dixon: Arsenal to seal another season in the Champions League with St James Park win

19May 2013

England - Premier League

 

Arsenal have been one of the hottest football bets this week but it might not be quite as easy as everyone expects in the north east, says Lee Dixon...

 

Check the match odds or Betfair's top four finish market and you might assume Champions League qualification is a done deal for Arsenal - I don't think it is.

 

Ultimately, I do expect the Gunners to come away from St James' Park with a win but it wouldn't surprise me if it's tougher than many expect.

 

Alan Pardew's controversial quotes following Sunday's win at QPR have seen punters piling in to Arsene Wenger's men and they have moved from 1.95 to a low of 1.57 to win this game. That's edging into sure thing territory and it's staggering to see Newcastle as big as 6.4 to win a home game.

 

There's every chance of a team like Newcastle rolling over of course, but there are reasons to think they might produce a better performance than expected. The crowd give it a good go up there and in my experience you always have to work for your win at St James' Park.

 

Of more relevance to this particular fixture perhaps is the fact that this has been a hugely disappointing and inconsistent campaign for Newcastle. Plenty of the home side's players will be feeling the need to put on a show for the manager as they work for their futures at the club and everyone will feel the need to sign off with a morale-boosting win.

 

There is also very little pressure on the home team and they may play with more freedom now the threat of relegation has been lifted.

 

Pressure is something Arsenal will be feeling. They are just one point ahead of north London rivals Spurs and an away win is surely a must if they are to achieve another season of Champions League football.  But, for me, that should be a real motivator. If you can't deal with it at a big club, move on.

 

And they should deal with it. Arsenal boast the league's best recent form, with one defeat in their last 12 fixtures. That brings confidence to a side and like most punters I fancy Wenger will be celebrating another win, another Champions League campaign to come and another season where they have finished above Spurs.

 

I think there is a bit of value in going against a dominant Arsenal win so I'll play decent odds on draw/Arsenal in the halftime/fulltime market at 5.0. A final score of 3-1 feels right and I'm happy to have a small bet on that at 14.0.

 

And I fancy Theo Walcott to be scoring one of those goals. The England man has enjoyed his best season at Arsenal and his pace will be key at St James' in the Gunners' counter-attacking game. Walcott has scored 14 times this campaign with key goals coming in the last three matches and can end his - and Arsenal's - season on a high note in the north east.

 

Recommended Bets

Back draw/Arsenal in the halftime/fulltime market @ 5.0

Back Arsenal to win 3-1 @ 14.0

Back Theo Walcott to score @ 2.3

 

Bet HERE

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Keywords: Lee Dixon, Arsenal, Champions League, St James Park

Source: Betfair

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