Arsenal v Aston Villa: Over 3.5 goals may prove shrewd move

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Christian Benteke’s sparkling goal tally in pre-season and Arsenal’s recent struggles in keeping clean sheets are just two reasons why 7/5 stands out as a fair price that over 3.5 goals are scored when the Gunners entertain Aston Villa.

Arsenal’s tight defence was arguably the leading reason for their late surge towards the Champions League places last season, shutting out the opposition in four of their final six Premier League games.

However, this rigidity has not transferred to the pre-season festivities, as Arsene Wenger has watched his team concede in all of their last six games.

If Benteke’s recent form is anything to go by, another clean sheet may bypass Arsenal, as since signing a new contract at Villa, the Belgian has scored seven goals in his last five pre-season outings, including a brace against Malaga last time.

Up the other end, Villa have not kept a Premier League clean sheet in 2013 and Arsenal scored more home top-flight goals than any other club last season.

In terms of picking a winner, Arsenal may look banker material to many at 2/5, but their more immediate concern is getting through Champions League qualifying, with an away tie against Fenerbahce on the agenda.

Villa’s away form also vastly improved in the latter half of the last campaign when they took 10 points from their final five fixtures on the road. Their only defeat in this run was at Old Trafford.

They are more than capable of springing a surprise here and 13/2 is a tempting price that they leave with three points.

A blow to their hopes though is the absence of Yacouba Sylla because of an ankle injury, as the midfielder was only on the losing team in a Villa shirt twice last season in 11 appearances.

Aleksandar Tonev is likely to start in an advanced midfield role as a result and he looks the value call at 13/2 in the to score at any time market on what will be his Villa debut.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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