The Premier League title hopes of Tottenham and Arsenal took a pounding in midweek, as they both suffered defeats in their attempts to whittle down Leicester’s lead at the top.
This being the case, each has a unique opportunity to effectively end their opponents’ interest in the race entirely when they contest the north London derby this weekend.
It’s a statement that certainly applies to the Gunners, who have lost their previous pair of matches in the build up to this trip and sit six points adrift of the summit as a result.
Arsene Wenger has spoken about a confidence crisis amongst his players amidst their bad run, while star man Alexis Sanchez has gone on record to say he and his teammates lack belief.
All the pre-match rhetoric focuses around low morale in the visitors’ camp, with popular preconceptions dictating their high-esteem hosts simply need to dial up the intensity and steamroller their downtrodden nemeses.
But Arsenal aren’t as bad at prevailing in the face of adversity as the punditocracy obsessed with their lack of leaders would suggest.
Win, Lose or Draw
It is a tough one to call, but the Gunners are certainly worth a wager as underdogs.
They’ve been beaten by their nearest neighbours just once across the previous seven meetings and already beaten a strong-looking Spurs side in the Capital One Cup at the White Hart Lane this season.
Furthermore, only West Ham and Manchester United have amassed more points-per-game against the Premier League’s top seven sides than Arsenal’s 1.67. The Lilywhites, by contrast, have mustered just 1.33 against such foes, losing two of their previous three.
In addition to the confidence issues in the away dressing room, a key reason behind the punters’ leaning towards Tottenham is the notable absentees for their opponents.
Petr Cech won’t play with a groin injury, while Laurent Koscielny has a hamstring complaint.
David Ospina will deputise for the stricken Czech and the enormously underrated net minder has been on the winning side in ten of the previous 14 Premier League matches he has kept goal for. He has been on the losing team just once and was present in the aforementioned Capital One Cup conquest at White Hart Lane.
Similarly, Gabriel will continue with Per Mertesacker at the heart of defence. Arsenal’s midweek loss to Swansea was the first time in five top-tier games the Londoners haven’t won when pairing the two together; they’d triumphed in the previous quartet.
Manager head-to-heads favour the Gunners too, with Wenger relinquishing the laurels to a Mauricio Pochettino team just once in six square offs.
Spurs’ form can’t be considered searing either; they’ve failed to win three of their last five, against three teams – Fiorentina, Crystal Palace and West Ham – who they were more than capable of beating.
Prior to their Swansea win last weekend, the Lilywhites hadn’t won in three when Belgian box-to-boxer Mousa Dembele was absent. Whether he passes fit or not will be crucial for the home team.
Recommended bet: Arsenal to win @ 37/20
Formerly known as ‘the derby that always delivers’, the north London tear up has been relatively goal shy of late. Indeed, only two renewals in the previous three campaigns have yielded three goals or more.
Caginess is sure to keep the attacking inhibitions of both teams in order so tread with caution when placing your goal line bets, which pays surprisingly highly.
Recommended bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 95/100
Who’s going to score?
Arsenal can’t buy a goal of late, as their exemplary-woodwork pulverising exhibition against Swansea last time out demonstrated.
Harry Kane, however, has filled his boots in north London dust ups, scoring three times having featured in as many and, after a bad night at West Ham last time out, back him to return to the scoresheet here.
Recommended bet: Harry Kane to score any time @ 8/5
Kane’s propensity to score in this fixture might be strong enough for wager makers to disregard the above and plump for a Spurs win.
If you’re of that persuasion, dear reader, please, back 2-1.
Each of the previous seven Premier League games the Lilywhites have won against their most-loathed at home have been by said scoreline.
Recommended bet: Spurs to win 2-1