Arsenal (+162) vs Tottenham (+183), Draw (+260)
The balance of power in North London seems to have shifted. While Arsenal (6-1-4, 19 points) continue to languish under the stale leadership of Arsene Wenger, Tottenham (7-2-2, 23 points) have grown in leaps and bounds, establishing themselves as legitimate title contenders under Mauricio Pochettino.
The upcoming derby (Saturday, November 18th) takes on a new significance as Spurs look to make a statement against a team they haven’t beaten away in seven years. And for Arsenal, beating their bitter rivals at home could grant them the momentum they need to start clawing their way back to the top of English football.
Recent Record and Form
With Pochettino at the helm, Tottenham have become a formidable club capable of handling their own against the best of Europe. Tied on points for second place after 11 fixtures, Spurs have exhibited the consistency and maturity required to claim the title.
Their performance against bottom-table Crystal Palace last week ended in a nervous 1-0 win, which was surprising given their 3-1 drubbing of Real Madrid in the Champions League just a few days prior. But it’s not such a bad result if we consider what Pochettino was up against. He was missing Dele Alli due to injury and Harry Kane had a lackluster showing due to his recent injury. So without needing to worry about two of Tottenham’s three key attacking players, Palace were able to devote themselves to shutting out Christian Eriksen. On top of that, Spurs had to resort to their third-choice keeper after both Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm were ruled unfit.
Earlier that week, an intact Tottenham side demonstrated exactly what it’s capable of with a 3-1 upset against Real Madrid. Staring down the back-to-back European winners, Spurs took to Wembley with a level of composure usually reserved for top European clubs. They didn’t shy away from taking risks, they attacked with confidence, and in the end, they reaped the rewards.
Arsenal were left licking their wounds last weekend after a 3-1 beating against league favorites Manchester City. After the match, Arsene Wenger lampooned the referee and ripped into Raheem Sterling for diving. But if he’s looking for someone to blame, he should look a little closer to home. Despite their impressive performance, City still made quite a few mistakes and Arsenal failed to punish them for their errors. There were opportunities for the Gunners to capitalize on some sloppy passing and defensive mishaps, and Wenger can only blame himself and his squad for that.
Earlier in the week, Arsenal drew 0-0 against Serbian side Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League. It was a mind-numbingly boring affair with neither side deserving of a win. The final whistle was met with boos and jeers across the Emirates, something Wenger should be used to by now.
Here’s where Arsenal finds some hope. When playing away, the Gunners have been awful (1-1-4). However, they remain a perfect 5-0-0 at home. Is that record as impressive as it looks? Not so fast. Consider the teams they’ve been paired with at the Emirates so far — Swansea, Brighton, West Brom, Bournemouth, and Leicester, i.e. five bottom-half teams.
Spurs have been arguably better when playing away this season. Their record on the road (4-0-1) is second only to Man City, and Wembley stadium, their makeshift home ground, has offered little advantage so far (3-2-1).
This is, however, the North London Derby, so the Totties will indeed miss the comforts of home. While Spurs defeated the Gunners in their last meeting, they have failed to beat Arsenal in their last six appearances at the Emirates.
Tottenham are currently ravaged by injury, so this week’s international break couldn’t come at a better time. Dele Alli is still battling hamstring issues; Toby Alderweireld is still out after going down during the Madrid clash; and both the starting and backup keeper — Lloris and Vorm — were ruled out of the Palace match. If all goes according to plan, Spurs will be back to full form after a week of rest and rehabilitation. But nothing is guaranteed.
Arsenal are currently without Shkodran Mustafi, Danny Welbeck, and keeper David Ospina. Though, like Tottenham, they should expect to be able to field their best 11 for the derby.
Both clubs are nursing their injured, but it’s Spurs that should be more concerned.
Pick: Tottenham (+183)
Despite all the things working against them — a worrisome list of injuries, a terrible track record at the Emirates, the added pressure of the Champions League — Spurs should still be the better side next week. Especially with Arsenal (+162) billed as the slight favorites, Tottenham (+183) are definitely the better pick, from a value perspective.
With Arsenal trapped in a seemingly unending slump and Tottenham in unbelievable form, the time is ripe for Spurs to end their seven-year winless streak at the Emirates.