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Jon Riley 13th Apr 2010 - 11:34

Semi Defeat Will Spur Harry's Men to Victory

There will be more than just bragging rights at stake at White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening as the North London derby takes on even greater significance.

This decisive derby encounter could prove crucial for both teams.

Tottenham come into arguably their biggest game of the season on the back of possibly their most disappointing result for some time. The 2-0 defeat at the hands of Pompey, a game they should have won, denied Spurs fans a first FA Cup final appearance in nineteen years. The players and management will no doubt point to the very debatable decision by ref Alan Wiley to rule out Peter Crouch's extra-time goal that looked a very soft call.

Whilst Spurs were wilting in the Wembley sun their rivals for fourth place and that elusive Champions League place Man City were demolishing Birmingham, putting them four points ahead of Harry's Hotspur.

The men from the Lane cannot afford to lose this pivotal clash with their arch nemesis. In the space of four days their excellent season could be on the verge of coming to an agonising halt.

If the Spurs fans are looking to the history books for some sort of pre-match positivity then they better blow the dust off a long forgotten footy annual from the 90's, as they've won none of their last 20 Premier League matches with Arsenal since winning 2-1 at White Hart Lane in 1999.

Arsenal have had a little longer to prepare for this game. That might not be a blessing though for Arsene's men.

For their last game was the mauling from Messi in the Nou Camp in Arsenal's Champions League tie with Barcelona last week. Wenger and Almunia in particular will have suffered painful nightmares over the last seven days of the Argentine maestro jinking and slaloming his way past the Gunner's static defence.

This could be just the game to spark Arsenal back into life. The passion and fervour of a derby match will pump up the players, the Nou Camp will be forgotten and the adrenaline of the floodlit battle will take over.

Wenger's troops haven't lost a league game at the Lane in 11 years. A win here would go a long way to banishing the thoughts of Barca and closing the gap on league leaders Chelsea.

The betting for this match sees Arsenal installed as favourites at odds of 5/4. The home team Tottenham are slight underdogs at 19/10.

I feel that this is great value for a Spurs side that has conceded the fewest goals at home in the Premier League this season. Arsenal are missing two of their most important players, the inspirational Fabregas and the dynamic Arshavin.

Spurs are without the suspended Wilson Palacios in midfield but upfront have all four attacking players (Defoe, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko and Gudjohnsen) available.

This is where I believe the game will be won and lost. Arsenal are relying on Nicolas Bendtner (9/2 first goalscorer, 6/5 anytime) to fire in the goals, although he is in a purple patch at the minute it is well known that his form can be hit and miss. The Arsenal fans lucky enough to have a ticket in the away end White Hart Lane will have their fingers crossed that Robin Van Persie's name appears on the teamsheet, he has three goals in his last three games versus Tottenham.

Spurs are likely to go with the little and large partnership of Crouch (13/2 first, 15/8 anytime) and Defoe (9/2 first, 6/5 anytime) to score the goals to revive their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

Harry Redknapp knows that the Arsenal players will still be smarting after their European humiliation but is wily enough and canny enough to mastermind a Spurs victory over their North London adversaries.

My recommendation is 1-0, but not to the Arsenal as the old song goes, to Tottenham Hotspur. The correct score market for this scoreline has odds of 8/1. The draw/no bet market has Tottenham at 6/5 and I would definitely be having a punt at on that.


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