Spurs should be confident of continuing their good start to the season when they host local rivals Arsenal in the 188th North London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday (4.30pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports).
Spurs lost at home to Everton on the opening day of the season but have since gone nine matches unbeaten, stringing together six wins and three draws for a sum of 21 points that has them atop the Premier League table on goal difference from holders Liverpool.
It is still relatively early doors, illustrated by the fact that just four points separate Spurs from Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh, but their quick start has already seem them up-rated by both the bookmakers and publicly available statistical models from a side thought to be between the fifth and seventh best in the league to one likely to finish in the top four.
Unlike during the second half of last season, when Spurs were the fourth-best team in the league in terms of points but had poor metrics, the underlying numbers have also been favourable. With summer reinforcements, including Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Sergio Reguilon and Gareth Bale, bulking out and adding quality to the squad, and attackers Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son beginning the campaign in fine fettle, a top-four place does now look on.
Jose Mourinho’s side kept a fourth clean sheet in five matches in a 0-0 draw away to Chelsea last weekend. Tottenham made the better start and were on top for the first half hour or so, but didn’t get off a single shot thereafter as Chelsea shut down their attempted breaks and got off 11 unanswered shots, although only a couple of genuine threats to Hugo Lloris’ goal.
It was a typical performance from a Mourinho side against a close rival, one in which defensive solidity was prioritised over attacking impetus and three points were not lost. There may be some similar displays in the lead up to Christmas, with matches against both Liverpool and Leicester to come. It is not an approach that should be necessary on Sunday given that Arsenal have so far looked far from a direct rival for a top-fourth berth.
In fact, Arsenal’s standing with the top recommended bookmakers has moved in the opposition direction to that of their North London rivals. Prior to the campaign, the markets had them as the most viable challengers to the incumbent top four. Just 10 matches into the season, they are now just the seventh favourites in that market with most bookies, and the statistical models are beginning to doubt whether they will even finish in the top eight.
Why? Mainly because Arsenal are currently down in 14th, with 13 points from four wins, one draw and five defeats. Also the underlying numbers suggest that is probably about where they deserve to be. The optimism around the work of head coach Mikel Arteta, supported in part by the club’s triumph in last season’s FA Cup, has begun to dissipate.
Arsenal come into the local derby on the back of three matches without victory and having won just one of their last six in the league. Last weekend, they went down 1-2 at home to Wolves. Gabriel swiftly equalised after Wolves had taken the lead just before the half-hour mark, but the visitors scored again before the break. Despite putting some solid pressure on their goal, Arsenal were unable to force another equaliser in the second half.
The Gunners have struggled to get things going in attack this season, particularly in open play, from where they last scored a goal back at the start of October – six matches and a further half hour ago. Ten goals in 10 matches is not the sort of return you’d expect from a side seeking to compete towards the top of the table.
Spurs have not had the same issues. Their total of 21 goals is just one less than the joint top scorers Chelsea and Liverpool. While Mourinho has cast some doubt on whether Kane will be fit to start on Sunday, there is little to suggest that is any more than just mind games.
In general, Spurs have looked a much better side than Arsenal to date and it is perhaps one of the biggest disparities we’ve seen ahead of a recent North London derby. Form and quality often seems to be equalised in these kinds of fixtures, but on this occasion, Spurs should be viewed as the fairly clear favourites to emerge triumphant. So the Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal betting tips’ advice of this match preview is:
- Bet on Tottenham Hotspur to win to nil @ best odds 13/5 with BetVictor.
Compare Spurs vs Arsenal Match Betting Odds from Top Bookies