Can Harry's Spurs march onto glory?
North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham clash at the Emirates in a lunchtime kick-off with more than just local bragging rights at stake.
Arsenal know that a win can see them leapfrog Chelsea in the league and take them to top of the table for the first time since March. William Hill are actually offering an enhanced market on the Gunners being at the top of the table come midnight on Saturday evening, meaning a win for Arsenal and Chelsea failing to ear all three points away to Birmingham. The price of this ‘Match Winner' offer is a fantastic 8/1.
Spurs are closer to their rivals in terms of squad, strength in depth and opportunity to genuinely challenge for major honours than they have been in decades. Any trip to the Emirates is fiercely anticipated by the travelling Tottenham fans and this year they may have cause to be optimistic.
Harry Redknapp inspired his charges to a famous victory at White Hart Lane in April to help ensure Champions League qualification and in the process ended a run of 20 league games against Arsenal without a win.
The match betting for this fixture sees the home side installed as 4/6 favourites as opposed to the 9/2 on offer for the visitors. An away win would be the first in a league fixture here in over seventeen years. Not since May 1993, days before Arsenal were due to face Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup Final, have Spurs won a north London derby at the home of their most hated rivals.
Hopefully if the match is a draw, priced at 5/2, it will not be a boring stalemate as was the one served up at the City Of Manchester stadium in the Manchester derby. These two teams have actually played out 16 draws in the Premier League era, the most between any two teams.
Arsene Wenger has no new injury concerns with Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky expected to shrug off knocks picked up on international duty. Jack Wilshere and Robin van Persie are also expected to win their races for fitness.
Despite worrying glimpses of inconsistency, notably the home defeats to West Brom and Newcastle, the Gunners have managed to stay within two points of Chelsea. Last week's 2-1 win away at Everton, no mean feat in itself, highlighted a growing belief that Arsenal's wait for a major trophy could be about to come to an end.
The main injury news for Harry Redknapp is the return of goal machine Jermain Defoe. The Spurs striker has trained all week after a lengthy lay-off. Tottenham returned to form last week with a 4-2 home demolition of Blackburn Rovers, with the visitors late goals flattering them no end.
When it comes to predicting the first scorer in this game there are a list of noteworthy forwards vying for favouritism. One player that slipped under the radar for Arsenal last weekend was Bacary Sagna, the French full back is 50/1 to repeat his feat of breaking the deadlock this time around.
The returning Robin van Persie and the ever present Marouane Chamakh are both priced at 9/2 to open the scoring. RVP has scored three goals in his last three Premier League starts against Tottenham and if he starts could well be worth backing at 6/5 anytime goal scorer.
Cesc Fabregas scored Arsenal's second at Goodison on Sunday and is 6/1 to score the last goal of the game or 7/4 just to notch anytime. His midfield partner Samir Nasri has blossomed this season, highlighted in midweek with his masterful performance for France against a lacklustre England at Wembley. Nasri put away two penalties in Arsenal's 4-1 Carling Cup defeat of Spurs and could be the one to unlock the Tottenham defence once again. The mercurial midfielder is 11/1 to score twice or more while we offer a market on there to be a penalty to be awarded and scored, priced at 3/1.
Our Match Winner offer for Tottenham is centred around Spurs magic men Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart. If both Bale and Rafa' score at anytime, priced at 4/1 and 2/1 respectively, you'll get paid out at a massive 20/1.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp appears to have decided that playing to his teams strengths means one thing....attacking football. This is borne out by his line-up choice against Blackburn last weekend, when two orthodox strikers (Peter Crouch, 8/1 first scorer, and Roman Pavlyuchenko 15/2) were supported by an attack-minded midfield of Rafael van der Vaart (7/1), Gareth Bale (11/1), Luka Modric (14/1) and Jermaine Jenas (20/1).
Defoe's return may provide Redknapp with a selection dilemma as he has been without the England international for the duration of this campaign. If the former West Ham and Portsmouth striker can find an instant return to form he can be backed at 7/1 to open the scoring and 2/1 to notch anytime.
Despite the fact that both teams will be going for victory I'm leaning towards a 1-1 draw at 15/2. I feel that Spurs could start well but may be pegged back...on this basis Arsenal to come from behind or draw at 7/2 could be worth my interest.