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Weekend Review: Gunners geared for glory as draws destroy accas

Arsenal edge out Manchester United in a classic to expand lead over City while horseracing faces the freeze

It was a tale of two halves in the Premier League this weekend after a draw-filled Saturday was followed by a stunning Super Sunday, as the bookies just edged ahead.

Arsenal (17/20) strengthened their title credentials after running out 3-2 winners against old rivals Manchester United (16/5) in north London.

A last-minute winner from Eddie Nketiah put the Gunners five points clear at the top of the league after United had clawed back from 2-1 down in a topsy-turvy tie.

Arsenal’s win was the perfect response to Manchester City (1/4), having closed the gap to just two points earlier on Sunday after goal machine Erling Haaland netted his fourth hattrick of the season to dispose of Wolves (8/1) 3-0.

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “A weekend in which we just about came out ahead of the punters, despite some big results going their way. Arsenal versus United was a classic game from start to finish, with United being stung in traditional ‘Fergie time’.

“That goal was music to the punters’ ears, with a goal fest going the way of the favourite always going to leave us way behind in what was also our biggest event of the weekend. A hattrick for Haaland in a comfortable City win is another recipe that only has one outcome, punters finishing well in the black there too,” he added.

By comparison, Saturday was a rather low-key affair, starting with the drab 0-0 draw in the lunchtime game between Liverpool (EVS) and Chelsea (13/5).

The mid-table pair showed little ingenuity between them, with the one bright spark being the introduction of Chelsea’s new Ukrainian forward Mykhailo Mudryk who showed some flashes of star quality.

Four out the six Saturday games ended in draws, including another 0-0 between Newcastle (4/5) and Crystal Palace (7/2) in south London.

Bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “A mixed bag for us over the weekend – a good day for us on Saturday but a Super Sunday for punters with Arsenal and Haaland doing the business to end the week in style.

“Four of the six Premier League games played on Saturday ended in draws while the other two both ended in low scoring affairs, starting with Liverpool versus Chelsea and ending with Palace versus Newcastle – a solid Saturday on the trading front although the truckload of goals in the Bundesliga did slightly take the gloss off an otherwise decent day,” he added.

Ladbrokes’ Alex Apati said Saturday’s dull action and some interesting betting patterns meant Sunday wasn’t as bad for the bookie as it could have been.

Apati commented: “Three televised 0-0s was a great result for us, as was Arsenal beating United (over 50% of match bets were on United, surprisingly). Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle essentially killed the acca backers this weekend.”

Looking ahead to the second half of the season, Betfred’s Alan Firkins and bet365’s Freeth’s laid out the most likely scenarios.

Firkins said: “The Gunners are five points clear of City with a game in hand, and the two meet at the Etihad in the FA Cup on Friday. Of greater note arguably is the upcoming league clash on 15 February. The latest Premier League outrights make for interesting reading. Arsenal 8/11, City 6/5, 40/1 bar.”

Freeth added: “Arsenal once again showed their title credentials. Looks like we could be made to pay for being slow in recognising the Gunners as favourites. So much so, we’re now just 10/1 that they reach 100 points this season. Arteta’s side blew their top four chances with a disappointing end to last season, and their bottle has been in question in the past but it looks a different story now.”

Elsewhere, in horseracing, with meets cancelled due to poor weather, attention shifted to Lingfield with the action shown live on ITV.

The Winter Oaks Fillies Handicap saw Al Agaila take the win for trainers Simon and Ed Crisford in a dramatic end to the action.

Gill said: “With racing decimated at the weekend, Lingfield took centre stage on ITV. The Winter Oaks Fillies Handicap went the way of 10/11 favourite Al Agaila under a good ride from James Doyle.

“Unfortunately for us, he just got his head down in time to beat 7/1 shot Morgan Fairy by a head, a result which went to the punters, who had a pretty good weekend across the board on the racing that did beat the freeze,” he added.

Finally, in boxing, Liam Smith was in a stunning form as he landed a fourth-round knockout to Chris Eubank Jr. in Manchester on Saturday.

Eubank was well backed heading into the main event after the pair had clashed in the build-up to the fight. Freeth and Apati reflected on the bout for EGR.

Freeth said: “It was a busy night on the boxing front with Eubank Jr. and Smith fighting it out in Manchester. As is generally the way with an all-British fight there was plenty of interest in the outsider, this time it was Smith who went off at 9/4. It was also a very good night for those punters who helped themselves to the 100/1 on the outsider doing the business in round four.”

Apati added: “Elsewhere, Eubank Jr. was unsurprisingly well backed on Saturday night, and while we felt a slight hit from punters backing Smith around the 2/1 mark, a Smith KO (7/1) was very unpopular, so not the worst result for us overall.”

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