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FourFourTom: Spurs to start well, Arsenal to end well and over 3.5 goals

by Rob Dore | March 2, 2013

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By FourFourTom

Cancel all of your plans on Sunday, because arguably the most entertaining Premier League match of the season is about to grace your television screen. A tie that offers fantastic entertainment for neutrals and 90 minutes of nerve-racking, knee-chattering, nail-biting torture for fans.

That’s right, it’s North London derby time and it couldn’t possibly be more interesting. Arsenal have had a poor season by their standards, whilst Tottenham are flying higher than ever thanks to a certain Welsh winger. Over the past two decades Arsenal have consistently been the dominant force in North London, but Spurs’ current position means there’s a hell of a lot more than the usual bragging rights at stake on Sunday. A win practically guarantees a place in the top four for Andre Villas-Boas’ men in my opinion, as Arsenal would be 7 points behind with just 30 points available. Finishing above Chelsea to achieve a top four place would still be perfectly achievable for Arsenal, but it’s make or break if they want to finish above their bitter rivals for an 18th consecutive season.

It’s difficult to pick a winner in this one looking at league form alone, as both sides are on superb runs. Tottenham haven’t lost in their last 11 Premier League fixtures, whilst Arsenal have won 8 of their last 12. Arsenal’s only defeats in this period came away to Chelsea and at home to Man City, where they were forced to play 87 minutes with 10 men after Laurent Koscielny saw red.

It’s equally difficult to pick a winner between the two by looking at each sides’ home and away form. Tottenham last suffered a league defeat at home back in November, when they were beaten 0-1 by Wigan. Since then they’ve played 7 home games without defeat, picking up 5 wins and 2 draws. Arsenal have an equally impressive record away from home, though, as the Gunners have only lost one of their last 7 away games – the aforementioned 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge – and have conceded fewer goals on the road than any other Premier League team this season.

Of the last 13 matches between the two, 12 have seen over 2.5 goals and 7 have featured over 3.5

Whilst the match betting looks too close to call, there is an obvious trend over the years once you look deeper into the stats. Of the last 13 matches between the two, 12 have seen over 2.5 goals and 7 have featured over 3.5, which makes respective prices of 4/7 and 6/4 look generous. If you want to take a bit more of a risk, 5 of the last 9 meetings between the two have seen over 4.5 goals and, somewhat peculiarly, 3 of the last 4 have seen over 5.5.

Looking into more detailed goalscoring stats it’s clear to see that Tottenham rarely concede in the first half and Arsenal score far more frequently in the second half. If the stats are anything to go by, backing goals in the second half of this game is where the money should be at. White Hart Lane has seen the fewest first half goals of any Premier League ground this season whilst Arsenal’s last 15 games in all competitions have seen a collated second half scoreline of 22-8 in the Gunners’ favour, which means they outscore their opponents at a rate of almost 3:1. With this in mind, backing the second half to contain more goals than the first at evens may be a good bet. I also like the look of Tottenham leading at half time and failing to win, which is available at 17/2.

If you want a score prediction from me I’m going to plump for a 2-2 draw, with Spurs taking the lead and Arsenal coming from behind with a second half flurry.

To summarise, my top tips for the match will be:
Over 3.5 goals @ 6/4
Half with the most goals – second half @ evens
Tottenham to lead at half time and fail to win @ 17/2

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