What do you want to believe? Which version of the truth suits you best?
Either Arsenal – and specifically Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck – turned a corner in last weekend’s 3-0 victory at an Aston Villa side who’d just won at Anfield, or Ozil, Welbeck and the Gunners just took advantage of a team who were affected by a sickness bug by scoring three goals in four minutes. It really told us nothing.
Either Tottenham – following years of managerial uncertainty and high-profile plank walking directed by Captain Daniel Levy – are taking their time to get used to Mauricio Pochettino’s ways, or they’re the ‘same old Spurs’ who lost 3-0 at home to the only decent team they’ve played this season and also 1-0 to West Brom last weekend. West Brom!
It all depends on what side of the North London fence you sit on, of course, and with the midweek Capital One Cup action – an Arsenal defeat, a Spurs win – doing little to provide us with clues ahead of this derby meeting, let the discovery of the real truth begin.
Because a defeat for either side in the latest running of this heated race will mean that it becomes impossible for them to be ambiguous. Fail to win and Arsenal will have recorded just two victories in nine games in all competitions. Lose and Spurs are probably going to be in the bottom half.
Both home advantage and logic dictates that it is the Gunners who take favouritism, and rightly so. They beat Spurs three times last season, have won five of the last six ‘#NLDs’ and 14 of 18 at The Emirates or Highbury.
Ozil and Welbeck didn’t play in the Capital One Cup defeat to Southampton and so we haven’t been able to gather enough evidence to suggest whether the pair really are threatening some form, but this would be a pretty good time for them to confirm that they are.
Spurs, so tame and disappointing in losing to West Brom post a Europa League trip to Serbia, will have come to dread this fixture once more after briefly enjoying an upper hand over their rivals (albeit not in the league table), and it is impossible to escape the notion that if the Gunners approach the levels they showed in their last home league fixture against Manchester City then they should win.
They are a backable 1.75 to do so, whilst if they were to follow last season’s trend of two Premier League wins and an FA Cup success then they’ll lead at half-time and win to nil.
It’s 2.32 for the former and 3.15 for the latter.
Back in October 2011 Aaron Ramsey was still a callow youngster trying to make his way back from the horrific events of the Britannia Stadium 18 months earlier. Many thought he’d never get there.
That he did is testament to his strength of character and his quality, of course, but on that October day almost three years ago he scored his one and only North London derby goal.
These days a much more regular scorer, it is nonetheless now five games for club and country since he found the net. Back him to end that drought here at 6.25 for the first goal and 2.90 any time, whilst there may also be merit in sticking with Alexis Sanchez at 2.60 any time after goals in his last three appearances at the Emirates.
Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0 – 9.00
Arsenal to win 1.75
Aaron Ramsey to score any time 2.90
Arsenal to win to nil 3.15
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