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Football Form Labs weekend preview

Excerpts from the Football Form Lab Weekender email.

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Not getting enough of your football betting? Put some stats behind your gut instincts and work out when to really lump on. One of the very best in the business is Football Form Labs who have shared their wisdom with a preview of some of this week's action. You can also follow Football Form Labs on Twitter, @footballformlab


PREVIEW: Arsenal v Man Utd (Sat, 17:30)

The past few years have seen Arsenal fail to perform against the best teams in the league time and again, and their record against Man Utd is no exception. Arsene Wenger’s men have won just one of their last 14 games in all competitions against the Red Devils. They even failed to score in either game against David Moyes’ United last season.

The Gunners have gone 23 games without defeat at home while United haven’t won in their last seven away matches. However, Arsenal have been struggling almost as much as United this season as they’ve both won only four times and Arsenal have failed to win any of their five matches against teams currently in the top 12 (W0-D3-L2).

Only twice since the start of last season have Arsenal failed to score at home and those were against Chelsea and Man Utd last term. Given United have lost five of their last eight away matches (W0-D3-L5) when conceding, and are suffering a major injury crisis in defence, this looks a perfect chance for Arsenal to improve their record in this fixture. Their main are of concern, though, is their own defence as Burnley are the only side to fail to score here this season. Over-goals is tempting given the two defences on show but 15 of Arsenal’s last 19 home games against top-half teams have finished with fewer than three goals.

United’s list of absences grew over the international break as Danny Blind injured his knee and David De Gea – their player of the season so far – dislocated a finger, although the keeper may yet be fit. They could be missing as many as six or seven first choice players and with Angel Di Maria’s dip in form and Robin van Persie’s general lethargy they are in poor shape as they head to the capital.

Last season United failed to win at any of the top nine, losing five times, and they remain winless on the road this term despite four of their opponents being currently located in the bottom eight. Depending on the full extent of Man Utd’s injury list Arsenal should win here but they are almost as hard to trust as United at the moment and it’s worth taking some cover on the draw and backing them at 1.88 on the Asian Handicap -0.25.

PREVIEW: AC Milan v Inter Milan (Sun, 20:00)

Much like the Premier League’s big clash this weekend the Milan derby comes around with both teams struggling to rediscover their title winning form of a few years ago.

Milan have won only two of their last nine games, despite facing just two sides currently sitting in the top nine. Inter, meanwhile, have won only two of seven matches including three defeats to sides currently in the bottom half. That run of form has meant the end for Walter Mazzari’s management and the return of Roberto Mancini.

Milan’s problems are clear in that they’ve kept just one clean sheet this season and that was against goal-shy Chievo as only six teams have conceded more often. Their attack has also started misfiring in recent weeks which has contributed to their last four home games all having fewer than three goals. Things get even worse when we look at Milan’s record against top-half finishers last season as they won only three of 18 matches whilst losing 10 times including a W2-D3-L4 record at home.

Inter have been inconsistent in defence this season as they’ve kept five clean sheets but have also conceded at least twice on five occasions. Four of their five away games have had fewer than three goals as they’ve scored just twice – against newly promoted Palermo and Cesena – and they must improve going forward if they are to challenge for a European finish this season. Their record away to top-half finishers last season was very similar to Milan’s home stats as they went W3-D2-L4.

Given the nature of this derby the head-to-head records are arguably more important than in most match-ups. Milan won the most recent encounter but prior to that had lost four of five derbies. However, the most significant stat is perhaps that seven of the last nine games between the pair have had fewer than three goals with five of the last eight, including three of the last four, having fewer than two.

The most significant bit of team news is Gary Medel’s suspension for Inter. The two games he’s started and failed to complete at least an hour in this season have seen Inter concede six times and pick up only one point. Similarly last season at Cardiff he missed just six matches and they lost them all while conceding 3.17 goals per game. And in the two previous years when at Sevilla they conceded 56% more goals per game in the 18 games he missed compared to the 58 he played.

Under-goals is tempting but the absence of Medel means Inter are less able to protect their suspect defence and so is best avoided. Instead the draw looks a better bet, particularly with Mancini being a relatively cautious manager who is likely to be happy to avoid defeat in such an important opening match. Milan have drawn five of their last eight matches and it’s 3.3 they get another one here while it’s 2.05 if you wish to cover the draw with a Milan win.

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PLAYER ANALYSIS

Nice v Reims
Eric Bautheac, Forward, Nice


Since the start of last season Bautheac has missed 20 of 51 games for Nice has he’s suffered several injuries and this time he’s suspended. While they’ve averaged 1.1 goals per game with him they’ve managed just 0.65 per game without him as they’ve failed to score 10 times. They’ve also lost 12 of the matches he’s missed, including eight defeats to nil and five 0-1 scores as 11/20 of matches have had fewer than two goals. Reims have conceded only two goals in their last five games and it's 3.1 that this match has Under 1.5 Goals.

Marseille v Bordeaux
Nicolas Nkoulou, Defender, Marseille


Nkolou has missed just two games in the past two seasons and since 2011/12 he’s only missed 10 of Marseille’s 127 matches. They’ve lost seven of those games and their only win came against Auxerre, who finished last that season, and they’ve conceded 65% more goals per game than when he’s been playing. With both managers encouraging positive football it could be a good time to back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0.

Napoli v Cagliari
Marco Sau, Forward, Cagliari


Sau has been an ever present for Cagliari this season but has missed 13 games since the start of 2013/14. Without him Cagliari have lost eight times and won only twice, with seven of the defeats being Loss/Loss doubles and six by more than one goal. Napoli are in good form and are 2.1 to record a Win/Win double.

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