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Rupert Wyman 7th Nov 2008 - 10:43

Wenger's whinging to continue

Both Arsenal and Man Utd only managed disappointing draws in their Wednesday Champions League ties.

Arsenal's draw at home to Fenerbahce, combined with last weekend's away loss at Stoke, has led to more suggestions that Arsene Wenger's young Gunners are far from title challengers. The big worry for Wenger ahead of Saturday could be finding enough players to make up his squad. With injuries to strikers, Adebayor, Walcott and Eduardo plus a three match suspension for van Persie, the forward line looks especially depleted.

Man Utd, in their own way, are struggling to find top form. The 4-3 home victory against Hull last week should have been more comprehensive and they found a battling Celtic tough to break down despite dominating possession. Alex Ferguson has no new injury worries and will be able to call upon Rooney and Berbatov after they were used sparingly against Celtic.

Since the Emirates opened over two years ago, Arsenal have been beaten two times at home in the league and never to Big Four opposition (West Ham 2007 & Hull 2008). However, they have struggled to beat Man Utd in recent years managing only two wins in the past twelve league matches, with Man Utd having lost just once in the last six away Premier League games at Highbury/Emirates. The stats point towards a draw but given Arsenal's injury and form woes, 13/10 on a Man Utd win looks great value.

For the first goalscorer market it is impossible to look any further than world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger has 37 goals in his last 32 Premier League matches and with four goals is the top-scoring player in this fixture. He is 9/2 first scorer which looks fairly short given United's impressive array of forwards but at 13/8 to score anytime he is better value.

A big game calls for a strong referee so the FA turn to Howard Webb (not Stuart Atwell!) The FA's top ref has been in charge of nine games this season and brandished 29 yellow cards and two reds at an average of 3.44 cards per game.

Arsene Wenger, this week, made comments in the press in regards to how his side are protected (or not protected) by the officials, so perhaps we can expect a little more leniency when it comes to mistimed tackles from Arsenal's young team. With this in mind 10/11 on Man Utd receiving the first card of the match could be worth a punt.

A good bet in this fixture could be the half with most goals. Arsenal have a phenomenal strike rate in the second half of games this season managing 15 already, while Man Utd also have eight. Alongside this, the midweek efforts of both teams could mean that fatigue is a factor towards the end of the game making defensive mistakes more likely. At 21/20 it is fairly short but it should be a banker given the context.



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