Tottenham v Arsenal
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Tottenham in title race despite Mourinho’s claims
Tottenham are on their longest unbeaten home run against Arsenal (six games) since the period from 1960-1968 – a time when they won the Double of course.
A good omen? Jose Mourinho is playing it down, saying: “We are not in a title race, we are not a horse in it, we are just ponies.”
Hmmm. A Sportsbook price of 6/1 says they’re very much in it. That puts them alongside Chelsea, with Manchester City at 13/8 just edging 17/10 Liverpool.
With 10 games on the board, Tottenham lead the way with 21 points, the same as Liverpool. They’re also juggling Thursday nights in Europe but good results in the Europa League are helping build confidence.
They’ve won five out of the last seven in all competitions, the two draws including a dour but satisfactory 0-0 draw with Chelsea last weekend.
Overall, the mood in the camp is positive. That’s a contrast to their North London rivals.
Gunners struggling for goals
Yep, while Tottenham are playing things down, Arsenal optimists are having to talk things up after ending the last round of Premier League matches down in 14th place.
The table is tight but 14th with over a quarter of the season gone isn’t a good look. Perhaps just as damning is their paltry tally of 10 league goals.
There were probably many who thought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would have that many on his own by this stage but his goals have dried up too. Just one in the top flight since an opening day strike against Fulham.
Of particular concern is Arsenal’s very recent form. Taking their last three PL matches, they lost 3-0 at home to Aston Villa, were fortunate to take a point against Leeds and then suffered a 2-1 loss at the Emirates to Wolves.
Mikel Arteta seemed to have turned the Gunners around. But something isn’t working in the league. This would be the perfect stage to turn Arsenal’s fans into believers again.
Spurs appear to hold the aces but there is still an element of uncertainly in their price.
Tottenham are 2.111/10 to bank all three points while Arsenal are 4.03/1 and The Draw 3.613/5.
As for recent head-to-heads, Spurs have had the edge at home in recent years. They’ve won four and drawn two of the last six, meaning Arsenal’s last away win came in March 2014.
Another plus is that Jose Mourinho has never lost a home game against Arsenal, the Portuguese coming out on top in six of those.
League position plus home advantage suggests Spurs are the bet but I’m wary.
There’s the usual ‘it’s a derby’ reasons but let’s just look at Arsenal’s away for a little closer.
They lost just 1-0 at Man City, won away at Old Trafford and held out for a point at Leeds. During that run they’ve also won both their away games in European competition – at Rapid Vienna (2-1) and Molde (3-0).
In other words, Arsenal are no pushovers on the road.
Spurs also have problems in goal, with Hugo Lloris set to miss out.
That means Joe Hart is set to come in and, while there’s a scenario that he plays a blinder, there’s another where it has a negative effect.
I’m backing the draw at 3.613/5.
Down the years, we’ve witnessed plenty of goals in these matches. Who can forget the 4-4 draw?
But I can see this turning into a cat-and-mouse affair, with two tactically astute managers unwilling to offer up any easy pickings.
In which case I’m definitely going for Under 2.5 goals at 1.9720/21, given how close it is to Overs.
Arsenal’s last three away games have witnessed a grand total of three goals – one for them and two for the opposition.
The numbers for Spurs are more mixed but let’s remember their 0-0 in another recent London derby – that stalest of stalemates at Chelsea.
I’m not keen on goals so the scorer markets aren’t an obvious place to look for the best bets.
But the Same Game Multi offers a way in for those looking for a big price on a very reasonable outcome.
The bet is Harry Kane to score the first goal and the match to end in a draw. It pays a hefty 23.32 and I’ll have half a point.
A stat which validates the bet? Tottenham have dropped 42 points from winning positions in Premier League games against Arsenal, more than any side has lost against another in the competition’s history.
The stat below also suggests a Kane opener doesn’t decide anything.
The team scoring first has failed to win 27 of the 51 Premier League meetings between Tottenham and Arsenal that have had at least one goal scored, more than any other fixture in the competition (Spurs failed to win 16/25 games, Arsenal failed to win 11/26 games).