Tottenham vs Arsenal |Thursday 12th May 2022, 19:45 | Sky Sports
North London derbies don’t come much bigger than this one as Arsenal look to hold off the challenge of their city rivals for a place in next season’s Champions League.
It’s a case of ‘win and you’re in’ for Arsenal, but Spurs know three points will make it a nervous run-in for the Gunners with them breathing down their neck.
Spurs kept their feint hopes alive with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool, which dented the Reds’ title hopes. Antonio Conte’s have slipped to just one defeat in their last eight, so will offer a stubborn test.
Mikel Arteta’s made it four wins on the bounce following Sunday’s 2-1 win over 10-man Leeds, although they made heavy weather of it in the second half. Eddie Nketiah has made a positive impact since being given his chance. The England U21 international has bagged four times in his last four.
Spurs have enjoyed recent home clashes against the Gunners – they’re unbeaten in their last seven on home turf (W5 D2), which is their longest such run since the 1960s. And it’s hard to ignore Conte’s side given the impact the Italian has had on the squad.
With plenty at stake, you can see there being a few cards dished out by referee Paul Tierney, who struggles to keep control of the bigger occasions.
Looking through recent matches for these two highlighted that a few CBs have been booked against Spurs. Those lively darts from Harry Kane cause problems. I did look at Gabriel, but he’s no price at all.
For Arsenal opponents, full-backs tend to be the way with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe all posing plenty of questions. Luke Ayling (RB), Alex Telles (LB) and Pascal Gross (RWB) have all shown the issues they face, but there wasn’t a definite trend to follow.
However, plenty of central midfielders are booked against the Gunners. So, while most angles seem priced accordingly, I’m happy to take Rodrigo Bentancur to be carded once more. I highlighted him in my preview of Spurs’ trip to Liverpool and although he didn’t get booked, he committed another couple of fouls.
It’s five cautions in 13 starts since joining the Lilywhites in January. Interestingly, four of those have come in home games. Meanwhile, his last five appearances have seen him give away 11 free-kicks (3, 1, 2, 3, 2), so he’s a persistent fouler, who could easily overstep the mark.
Bet365 has him chalked up at 3/1, suggesting a 25% implied probability. So, there’s a bit of value to be had once again with him receiving a card in 38% of his starts. This is a north London derby with Granit Xhaka lining up in opposition, so it might only need a spark to light the blue touch paper.
Sticking with the Uruguayan, I’m happy to take him and his midfielder partner, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, getting stuck in and racking up the tackles.
Bentancur has made 2+ tackles in nine of his 13 Premier League starts (69%), while Højbjerg has hit the same mark on 23 occasions, which includes four in the reverse at the Emirates.
Given what’s at stake, this could be quite a cagey affair, where the two midfields will have a big say on which way it goes. The Spurs pair have formed a steely partnership over recent weeks, and I can see both hitting higher lines individually, so putting the pair together on a lower line gives us a nice little price.
I have also asked Sky Bet to combine the duo into some tackle multiples, which I’m still waiting to hear back about, so keep an eye on Twitter to see if those are prices worth taking.
I will note that I did look at some shots markets. Heung-min Son and Saka both to have 2+ hosts is 4/5 with Ladbrokes. On the numbers, that could be quite solid.
The South Korean has hit 75 shots (second-most for Spurs), an average of 2.3 per game. He’s hit 2+ efforts in 24 of his 32 league appearances, including the reverse.
Saka has had 88 shots (most for Arsenal & fifth-most in the league). That equates to 2.5 shots per game, while he’s had two or more in 21 of his 33 starts in the league, including the reverse. I didn’t mind that for two in-form players.
I’ll also say that my initial approach was to look toward Saka. It’s 5/6 (Ladbrokes) that he has two shots and one effort on target. In his last nine games, his shot count has been: 2, 2, 5, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 1 – that’s seven out of nine for 2+ shots.
While in those matches, his shots on target have been: 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 0, 0, 1, 1 – again seven out of nine. Sky Bet have price boosted him to EVS for 1+ shot on target, which might be for those who like that angle.
I can see him being influential in Arsenal’s push to secure a Champions League spot on rival territory and looks to be the one to pose Hugo Lloris several questions.