This match is a prediction minefield for me, my form in selections involving Arsenal is woeful and my natural bias in favour of the home side means that I always try to temper my instincts for matches involving Tottenham, I am a believer in the “7 Golden Rules” though and so I never bet on “my” team. For the benefits of this preview, I shall do my best to remain objective in my analysis.
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So, onto the preview proper:
Since Harry Redknapp came in, the prospects for Tottenham fans leading up to a North London Derby look brighter, though much of the side was assembled before he came in, it’s only since his arrival that they have really gelled and started to form a proper unit and shown an ability to compete in the “bigger” matches, certainly, the players brought in since his arrival have helped shore the side up and the additions this season alone look to have made a big difference in the mentality of the side. Parker looks to have formed an instant partnership with Luka Modric in midfield, Friedel looks composed at the back and is still sharp enough to make good saves when called into action, Adebayor has given Tottenham another dimension up front and has shown an ability to link up with Defoe, a player previously difficult to find a good partner for.
On the Arsenal side of the divide, you have a different situation, Arsene Wenger has been a fine manager and over the years he has put together title winning sides, even managing to go a whole season unbeated in the league, his current crop doesn’t look to have that quality though. Recent departures have hit the sides ability to compete even if their positions on the field have been taken by other competent players, it was always going to be be hard to replace players of the calibre of Nasri and Fabregas, Arteta and Yossi Benayoun just don’t have the same spark. Their season has started slowly but they are on a run of three winning matches across all competitions and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to be another good purchase that will add pace to the wings, perhaps freeing up Theo walcott to play in his preferred striking position.
There will be interesting match-ups all around the field today, Aaron Lennon may start today but over the last few seasons, he hasn’t made a great impact against Arsenal full backs, his goal to tie the game 4-4 a while back being his most significant contribution to date, often though it was Gael Clichy who subdued him and since Clichy has now moved on, the Tottenham man will be looking to try his luck against a new opponent if he gets on the pitch. It will be a new experience for Emmanuel Adebayor, he’s lined up in this fixture many times but this will be his first time as a Spurs player and he looks like he could be a key participant in this game, his strength up front and ability in the air will test Koscielny to the limit. At the other end of the field, Van Persie will look to cause similar problems to a back line lacking depth, Kaboul and King have played well recently but Gallas and Dawson would probably both feature ahead of Kaboul if they were both fit. Van Persie often has very good games against Tottenham and his appearance last season after injury caused Tottenham all kinds of trouble, now fully fit, he could be a real dangerman in this game and is Arsenals best hope of a breakthrough.
Both sides have players missing through injury but Spurs look better equipped to cope with a stronger available squad, predictions are difficult for derby matches as the form book tends to go out of the window but my head and heart are in unison on this one, I expect a Tottenham win with both sides scoring goals, it should be a cracker and I for one am looking forward to it.
Todays interesting bets:
Over 3.5 – 2.63 at Stan James – This game is one of the few derbies to guarantee goals and with defensive weaknesses in the Arsenal side and a determined Adebayor, this slightly risky bet looks an option.
Tottenham Win – 2.2 at Paddy Power – For the first time in ages, Tottenham go intot his match as favourites but the uncertainty caused by the Derby factor has meant that their odds are still reasonable.
Emmanuel Adebayor to score at any time – 2.5 at Ladbrokes – The 2.5 available here is a bit of an anomally and with it being close to the betting exchange prices, this could create a trading opportunity close to kick off, it’s not a bad bet in itself though.