Brentford take on Arsenal to kick-off the 2021/22 Premier League campaign on Friday in an 8pm kick-off at the Brentford Community Stadium.
The Bees will be competing in their first top flight match since 1947, showing how long their loyal fans have had to wait to receive a taste of the highest level of English football.
Having began a new era in the Brentford Community Stadium, Thomas Frank’s side finally gained promotion to the Premier League after several near misses in recent years, with Ivan Toney breaking the Championship goalscoring record along the way.
Arsenal, meanwhile, started terribly during Mikel Arteta’s first full season in charge, but won their last five leagues games of the season to finish on 61 points in eighth position, meaning they will have no European football to distract them from their aims of returning to the Champions League.
The Gunners are odds-on 5/6 favourites to win on Friday, with the draw 11/4 and a Brentford win 16/5.
Personally, I think Arsenal are too short here given how loud the Brentford crowd are likely to be and how determined Frank’s players will be to prove that they can compete at this level, which I definitely think they can.
Indeed, I was taken aback slightly by how vociferous the Bees’ fans were when overcoming Bournemouth in their play-off semi-final in May, and I’d expect no different under the lights on Friday night given the magnitude of the occasion.
Raucous fans and a fairly even game are two big boxes to tick when it comes to betting on cards and corners in my eyes. I’m expecting both – along with goals and most match events frankly – to rise this season with fans back in the ground.
Michael Oliver holds the whistle for this match, too, having shown both teams 1+ card in 17 of his last 20 matches in all competitions, while both of these sides comfortably averaged more than one card for and against last season.
The Bees averaged five corners at home and 3.91 against them, with Arsenal averaging 4.79 for and 4.42 against away from home.
As such, I like the look of 1+ card each team and 3+ corners each team at 21/20 with bet365.
For those looking for a bigger price, adding BTTS and Over 2 Cards for Both Teams Combined increases the odds to 10/3.
52% of Brentford’s home matches saw BTTS land last season and I can see that happening again on Friday, while only three of the 17 matches Oliver showed each team 1+ card saw him show fewer than three cards overall.
On that note, I’m keen on Vitaly Janelt and Granit Xhaka as a player card double at 25/1 (Betfair).
Janelt (who is 4/1 as a single) was booked nine times in his debut Championship season for the Bees, averaging more than one tackle and one foul per game.
He was also booked against Tottenham in the EFL Cup semi-final, suggesting he could have a tough time adjusting to this level.
Everyone knows about Xhaka’s disciplinary record, meanwhile, with the Swiss midfielder missing his nation’s Euro 2020 quarter-final tie against Spain through suspension.
I did want to get involved with Toney scoring anytime, but he’s shorter than 2/1, so doesn’t appeal.
Both Teams To Receive A Card, Over 2 Corners for Brentford & Over 2 Corners for Arsenal @ 21/20 (bet365)
Vitaly Janelt and Granit Xhaka to be carded @ 25/1 (Betfair).