North London Derby promises goals - Betting Preview
It's safe to say that one of the fiercest rivalries in the Premier League is reignited this weekend as Tottenham Hotspur travel to the Emirates Stadium, and after last season's damaging 5-2 collapse at their rivals, Spurs' fans and players alike will expect better.
Yet, for Arsenal, a repeat of that sweet result would satisfy fans are beginning to raise concerns that already this season is lost. A title challenge at this point is almost out of the realms of possibility for the Gunners, and whilst they weren't guaranteed to challenge anyway, there is no doubt that Arsene Wenger harbours desires to win another title, and why not? He has forever been building and re-building this team, and a season in which he signed two influential attackers began promisingly, but slowly seemed to slip away without much notice.
Last week's home draw to Fulham epitomises how far this team has, unwittingly perhaps, distanced themselves from Arsenal teams past, and there cannot be too many occasions in which Arsenal fans have watch their team score three times at home and fail to win. Their defensive disorganisation is constantly apparent, and it shouldn't be a surprise if, even for a fixture of this magnitude, Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaalen is dropped, as his form has left a lot to be desired.
Arsenal's attack has been bolstered by the apparent re-birth of Olivier Giroud, who, after taking some time to settle in, now seems fluent and almost an integral cog in Wenger's attacking plans, whilst Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla is demonstrating exactly why he could be the signing of the season, impressing consistently whilst dictating the tempo of the game. In fact, so impressed by Cazorla are we at William Hill, we have enhanced his price to score in a Gunners win to 7/1 (from 5/1).
If Arsenal will be able to take advantage of Spurs anywhere on the pitch, it will most likely be on the counter attack, as Manchester City and Chelsea have shown in recent weeks. With attack-minded full backs on either flanks, Tottenham are often left exposed out wide, which plays straight into the hands of a pacy winger like Theo Walcott, who has scored 3 goals against Spurs in Arsenal colours, more than against any other current Premier League team (7/1 that Walcott scores first).
Having said that, Tottenham's are expected to have a full strength back line starting this weekend, with Jan Vertonghen likely to continue at left-back, a position in which he impress at Old Trafford in September. Steven Caulker represents a powerful, astute centre back, yet he is often left wanting whilst defending set pieces, and as young full back Kyle Walker matures into a solid international, he will continue to make the occasional costly defensive error. It is problems with both teams' back four that have caused this fixture to become a regular contender for game of the season over the past few years, with notable comebacks playing more than a small role.
Over the past two seasons, the Emirates has seen one team go into half time 2-0, yet contrive to lose the game (Spurs won 3-2 in 2010, whilst as mentioned before, Arsene Wenger masterminded a 5-2 comeback in March). Not only that, but in Harry Redknapp's first game as Spurs boss, his tone was set with a gripping 4-4 draw, completed by two injury time Tottenham goals.
These results have combined to see nine of the past ten games contained four or more goals (6/4 for over 3.5 goals), whilst a mind-boggling 23 goals have been scored in the past four league games between this pair. Andre Villas-Boas will endeavour to continue that run, as he loves nothing more than seeing his team score, yet must be cautious in his approach in order to stop a three game losing streak, as Tottenham's 300th Premier League win looms large.
The Spurs boss has been celebrated by some in the media, and crucified by others, but will continue to press on with tactics in which he believes, and although Jermain Defoe has sown some fine form in the early season, it would be a shock not to see Emmanuel Adebayor on Tottenham's starting team sheet. The Togolese international relishes playing his former clubs (as shown by his magnificent performance last week against Man City), and is 7/1 to score first.
Adebayor is likely to grab the headlines, but it is Welsh winger Gareth Bale who has continued to put Arsenal to the sword throughout his Tottenham career, and is expected to have a another great game this week. As such, Bale has seen his price to score in a Spurs win enhanced to 8/1 (from 11/2). This fixture always promises goals, especially in the second half, and at 5/2, 2 half goals over 2.5 is worth a few quid.