Arsenal Fancied to Bounce Back
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1.5pts Arsenal to beat Schalke at 21/20 (Stan James).
2.5pts Man City to beat Ajax at 4/5 (General).
Arsenal's defeat at Norwich on Saturday has seen them drift ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League tie with Schalke.
Logical, right? Well, if history is a guide, the answer is actually no.
Take last season as the first piece of evidence. Arsenal travelled to Udinese to defend a narrow 1-0 lead from the first leg of their qualifier, having just been beaten by Liverpool in the Premier League. Despite going behind early, they beat the Italian side 2-1.
A year earlier, Arsene Wenger's side were stunned 3-2 by West Brom prior to their trip to Partizan, one they returned from having secured a 3-1 victory.
In 2009, Arsenal lost to Manchester United and Manchester City before travelling to Liege and going 2-0 down inside five minutes. They came back to win that game 3-2, and repeated the feat in the reverse fixture having been beaten by Sunderland three days earlier.
2008 saw them lose to Fulham before beating FC Twente, then lose to Hull before thumping FC Porto 4-0, while later that year they'd just been smashed by City before beating Dynamo Kiev.
There's further evidence from 2007 when they lost to Middlesbrough before beating Steau, they responded to a loss with Champions League group stage victory twice in 2005, and in the time-frame covered only once have they followed league defeat with Champions League group stage defeat, and that was away from home.
Of course, all of this could count for absolutely nothing, but not if it's used to explain exactly what Arsenal are: a talented side among the most able in their division who are prone to the odd shocker. How do we profit from that? Perhaps the answer is to back them after said shocker.
The problem is that Schalke have only lost once all season, away at Bayern Munich, and arrive on the back of an important 2-1 win at Dortmund on Saturday.
However, their failure to convert a 2-1 lead into victory over 10-man Montpellier in their last Champions League game suggests they are very much beatable, especially as they were less than impressive in winning at Olympiacos in their opener.
In contrast, go through the form book and you'll see that in the early stages of the Champions League, few sides are as reliable as Arsenal, whose last pre-Christmas defeat came way back in 2003.
Arsene Wenger has already asked his players to bounce back on Wednesday and at odds-against, they're good value to do just that.
Cover the stake with a confident bet on Manchester City beating Ajax in Amsterdam.
Roberto Mancini's side once again demonstrated just how hard they are to beat by coming from 1-0 down to beat West Brom with just 10 men on Saturday.
It's that resilience which should see them produce the goods now their backs are truly against the wall in the Champions League, having gained just one point from their opening pair of fixtures.
Quite simply, they have to beat Ajax home and away unless they want to rely on favours from their opponents, and they should be able to do exactly that.
The Dutch outfit are off the pace in their domestic league and one win in six games speaks to a side who are struggling to find their stride this season.
They blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads at Heracles on Saturday having previously been held to a draw at home by FC Utrecht, prior to which they'd been resoundly thumped by a rampant Real Madrid.
City might not quite be in the same league as the Spanish side but they're not far off, and with Sergio Aguero set to return they should be too strong in attack.
It's fair to say their Champions League record doesn't read very well at present but that should change in time and Ajax have a very poor record at home against English clubs, losing three of their last four.
Weights and measures aside, the key to this bet is that City know that they have to win, and of late that's been all they need to get the job done.