Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Manchester United vs. Arsenal
Not so long ago, a clash between Manchester United and Arsenal was a title-deciding bout, bustling with goals, drama, controversy and wild entertainment. Nowadays, it’s a fixture between two sides whose league titles are long in the rear-view mirror—and who both continue to struggle in wake of managerial dynasties.
United are looking to bounce back from a dour defeat at West Ham last week, in which they showed little creativity, flair or general competence. Their ponderous approach, and lack of viable replacement up front when Marcus Rashford was substituted, meant the Hammers didn’t even have to try particularly hard to earn their win.
A midweek shootout win over lowly Rochdale has done little to settle the nerves.
Arsenal, meanwhile, showed impressive determination to fight back from a goal down twice to beat newly promoted Aston Villa, but their defensive displays still leave plenty to be desired.
The Red Devils have generally had the better of this fixture in recent seasons, particularly at home, where they are 12 matches unbeaten against The Gunners. The only league meeting between Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, resulted in a 2-0 win for Arsenal when they met at the tail end of last season.
One thing that may be relied upon in this fixture is goals. Not only do both sides have questionable defenses (Arsenal, for one, haven’t kept a Premier League clean sheet since the opening day), but three of their last five meetings have featured four total goals. There has only been one goalless meeting between these sides in the last decade.
The home side are the favorites, but given their feckless recent output, an upset could well be on the cards.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal
Best Bet: Jesse Lingard anytime scorer (+275 with POINTSBET). Lingard has scored four times against Arsenal, more than he has managed against any other opposition. He was placed up front at West Ham and may feature again in Rashford’s absence.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
Barcelona’s problems this season have been well noted, but Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have also struggled out of the blocks. Los Blancos have dropped points against Real Valladolid and Villarreal, and were given an almighty humbling at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain.
Atleti, meanwhile, lost their 100% record on a night to forget at Real Sociedad and have failed to win their last two home matches.
But neutral fans will hope the 165th league staging of the Madrid derby lives up to recent editions. The most recent league fixture saw Real leapfrog their city neighbors in the league table, thanks to a 3-1 win at the Wanda Metropolitano, which featured a red card and Gareth Bale’s 100th goal for the club. And in July, the two sides contested a bonkers friendly at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey that Atleti won by a 7-3 scoreline.
Atleti are the bookmakers’ favorites, which seems surprising as they have won only one of their last eight league meetings with Real.
Five of the last eight league editions of the Madrid derby have ended in draws, and given their relative slow starts and parity, that seems to be a solid bet for Sunday’s clash.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid
Best Bet: First half to be highest-scoring half (+215 with POINTSBET). Only once in their last eight meetings have more goals been scored in the second half than the first.
RB Leipzig vs. Schalke
Bayern Munich will return to the top of the Bundesliga with a victory at rock-bottom Paderborn this weekend — unless league leaders RB Leipzig take three points at home vs. Schalke.
The East Germans have only dropped points against Bayern this season and have averaged 2.5 goals per game in their four league victories. Timo Werner is in fine form, with seven goals in all competitions, thanks in part to assist-provider-in-chief Marcel Sabitzer.
Leipzig, however, face stiff competition in a Schalke side who are coming off the back of three consecutive wins, in which they have scored 10 goals. Suffice to say, David Wagner’s side are a far more dangerous prospect than the Schalke team that narrowly avoided relegation last season.
But the Royal Blues have only ever taken one point at Red Bull Arena, and they’ve only beaten RB Leipzig once: a 2-0 victory in Gelsenkirchen in 2017.
Given their league position and favorable head-to-head, the hosts are odds-on favorites to win this one. But Leipzig have only kept one clean sheet in their last five and Schalke are scoring freely, so one should expect the net to bulge a few times.
Prediction: RB Leipzig 2-1 Schalke
Best Bet: Leipzig win and over 2.5 total goals (+105 with FOXBET). Schalke’s last four matches have featured over 2.5 goals, as have seven of Leipzig’s last eight.
AC Milan vs. Fiorentina
By all accounts, Fiorentina should be a force to be reckoned with. Their first match after their summer takeover by New Jersey businessman Rocco Commisso was a 21-0 win over minnows Val di Fassa, and they have brought in elder statesmen Martín Cáceres, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Franck Ribery.
In their league opener, they ran prospective title-chasers Napoli close in a 4-3 thriller, which suggested good times were ahead. However, Fiorentina are lingering at the wrong end of the table.
A tough task lays ahead for the team from Florence, who head to the San Siro to try and earn their second win of the season. Milan are strong favorites here, but the form book suggests an upset is quite possible.
Fiorentina earned a 1-0 victory in their last away match against Milan in December 2018, and they have won five of their last 11 trips to the San Siro against both Milan sides.
Vincenzo Montella’s side have already held Juventus to a draw this season, they earned their first Serie A win in 19 attempts midweek, and are set up to exploit Milan’s weakness of defending attacking movements from the wide channels. Odds of +250 with FanDuel for an away win are too good not to take in this one.
Prediction: Milan 0-2 Fiorentina
Best Bet: Away team to win to nil (+480 with 888sport). In their last three Serie A losses, Milan failed to score.
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