Tottenham v Arsenal
Saturday March 5, 23:45pm
After Leicester picked up what initially looked like a disappointing draw at home to West Brom on Tuesday, Tottenham would no doubt have hoped to be going into this fixture top of the table while Arsenal would have expected to be just three points back after playing a weakened Swansea side at home.
However, in this most unpredictable of seasons things of course didn’t go to plan and as it is Spurs would need a win here to go top ahead of Leicester’s trip to Watford, whilst Arsenal trail the Foxes by six points now and really need a win to keep their title hopes alive.
Spurs had won six straight games ahead of their trip to Upton Park but they suffered only their fourth defeat of the season as the Hammers continued their excellent record against the top teams under Slaven Bilic. Spurs’ home record this season is W8-D4-L2, with their defeats coming against Leicester and Newcastle, but they’ve been excellent defensively at White Hart Lane, conceding just 10 goals in these 14 games with six clean sheets.
Their record when hosting top-four teams since Pochettino took over is W3-D1-L2 with defeats against Man City last term and Leicester this season. Interestingly, their wins have been high-scoring affairs as they’ve conceded in each, including a 5-3 win over Chelsea last term and a 4-1 win over City earlier this season. They’ve failed to score in the other three matches, with each of these having fewer than two goals and we can also add a pair of goalless draws with Chelsea and Liverpool this season to those.
Arsenal have extended their traditional February collapse into March having lost their last three games in all competitions in what’s been a disastrous week for the Gunners. Indeed, they’ve now just won two of their last eight matches as they’ve slipped down from the top of the table. Their away record this season is W7-D3-L4 but they’ve only won two of their last eight on the road, at Bournemouth and Aston Villa.
Their record when travelling to top-four teams since the start of last season is W2-D1-L1 as they beat City last season and Leicester this, but suffered their customary defeat against Chelsea. Three of the four games had fewer than three goals, the exception being a 5-2 win at Leicester early on this season when the Foxes were a much more open side than they are now.
Having produced some remarkable fixtures in the past with 4-4, 5-2 and 3-3 scorelines springing to mind, North London derbies in recent times have been much more low-scoring. Four of the last five since 2013/14 have had fewer than three goals and we expect this one to follow a similar pattern. Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny are out for the Gunners, but they have a decent record with Ospina in goal whilst they’ve kept three clean sheets in the four matches Koscielny has missed this term including against United and Liverpool, though both of these were at home.
Spurs, meanwhile are without Moussa Dembele, without whom they’ve scored 30% fewer goals since the start of last season and with the Gunners also short of goals at the moment, this one could be a cagey affair, like the majority of Spurs’ home games against top teams under Mauricio Pochettino.
Everton v West Ham United
Sunday March 6, 2:00am
Everton continued their good form as they cruised past the hapless Villa in midweek, making it three wins in four for Roberto Martinez’s side as they look to move up into the top half of the table. West Ham, meanwhile, picked up an excellent 1-0 win at home to London rivals and title challengers Spurs. As a result, the Hammers now trail City in fourth by just a single point, though the Citizens do have a game ahead. Indeed, with Arsenal also slipping up in recent weeks, the battle for a top-four finish could be much closer than most expected.
Everton have put three past Stoke and Newcastle in addition to Villa in recent weeks with Aaron Lennon, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku all in the goals. However, only the Newcastle game of these was at home, where Everton have largely been disappointing this season. They are W4-D3-L6 at Goodison Park as three of their four wins have come against bottom-four teams, while the other was early on in the season against a Chelsea side that was in turmoil under Jose Mourinho.
Everton’s home record against sides between fifth and eighth since the start of last season is W1-D3-L3 with that sole victory over Southampton last term. The four matches last season were all tight affairs as each had fewer than two goals but this season they drew 1-1 in the Merseyside derby before losing 3-0 against Man Utd and 4-3 against Stoke.
West Ham’s win over Spurs was their fifth of the season against top-eight sides as Slaven Bilic’s side have proved they certainly have an appetite for the big games. Indeed, early on in the season they went on a remarkable run as they won at the Emirates, Eithad and Anfield.
However, they’ve managed just two away wins since then as their record is W5-D5-L4 and it’s also a concern that they’ve trailed at the break in three of their last four on the road, though managed to turn that around at Bournemouth to record their only away win in their last nine road matches. At sides between seventh and 14th this season they’re W2-D0-L2 as they’ve beaten Liverpool and Palace but lost to Southampton and Watford.
Everton have averaged 56% possession at home this season, with only the traditional big six of English football averaging more. This should suit West Ham, whose success on the road early on in the season came on the counter against teams that had the majority of possession. Indeed the Irons’ away record against teams that have averaged more than 55% home possession this season is W3-D1-L1 and since Everton have largely beaten relegation candidates at home this term, we’re taking them on at what looks a very short price of 1.78.