Adrian Clarke returns with his Premier League Insights column post-World Cup
It feels like an age since I penned my last Premier League Insights column, but it’s good to be back!
There are plenty of interesting fixtures that appeal on a fascinating weekend card, but there are two match-ups that catch my eye the most.
Here are my selections…
HARD TO SEE PAST ANOTHER NORTH LONDON GOAL FEST
Certain fixtures just smell of goals, don’t they?
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal certainly falls into that category, and for good reason, as just one other fixture in Premier League history (Arsenal v Liverpool, 180) has produced more goals than the north London derby (175).
I expect a continuation of this trend on Sunday afternoon.
Based on the eye test you’d have to say its highly likely that leaders Arsenal will breach a porous-looking Spurs rearguard at least once, probably more.
They might be without Gabriel Jesus, but the pace, power and fluency of Mikel Arteta’s young, hungry forward line continues to shine.
Averaging two goals a game on the road this season, winning seven of nine matches, the Gunners are more capable than they have been in many, many years of owning this contest.
Conte’s Spurs do not have a strong back five, or a reliable goalkeeper, so if they execute periods of sustained pressure I’d fancy them to puncture a defence that has kept just two home clean sheets this term.
Those rare shutouts also came in ‘gimmes’ against non-scoring Everton and Wolves.
So that’s the case for Arsenal goals, and it’s strong, but Tottenham present plenty of attacking mischief themselves.
You cannot overlook the fact that Harry Kane is on FIFTEEN Premier League goals, and is just one goal away from equalling the club record set by legendary front man Jimmy Greaves.
There are many people who feel it’s destiny for him to level or break that milestone against the one side he loves scoring against most. Kane is after all, the leading scorer (14) in north London derbies.
The Spurs talisman, who has scored 41 per cent of their league goals this season, has bagged in eight of the nine north London derbies he has featured in on home turf. And statistically this is his joint fastest start to a campaign goals-wise.
He usually gets a penalty against the Arsenal too, netting five in the last 10 Premier League meetings. This has contributed to Spurs finding the back of the net in 11 successive meetings with the Gunners.
Both Teams to Score is a little skinny at 1.69, but a price of 1.83 on Over 2.5 goals does prick my interest big time.
A whopping 65 per cent of Arsenal matches have seen that gamble land in 2022-23, with 61 per cent of Tottenham games rewarding overs backers too.
I can’t tell you who’ll win. Arteta’s table-toppers should, but this is a bogey ground for them, so I’d much rather stick with a goals selection.
If we see two or less goals in this grudge match, it will feel like a surprise.
ATTACKING INSPIRATION COULD BE IN SHORT SUPPLY AT STAMFORD BRIDGE
Chelsea usually see off Crystal Palace with ease on their own patch.
The Blues have won five in a row at home to the Eagles, scoring 14 goals with just two in reply, but does anyone see them as a safe bet right now? I know I don’t.
Graham Potter’s side are in a sorry state, losing six of their last eight games in all competitions.
Garnering just six points from nine matches this is Chelsea’s worst spell since the 1994-95 campaign.
Confidence is low, tensions are high and a raft of absentees also complicate matters ahead of Sunday’s clash with Palace.
Loan signing Joao Felix is suspended, and ten other first teamers are missing through injury, with Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and Dennis Zakaria the latest flies to drop.
In attacking areas we think Kai Havertz and Mason Mount will be fit, but around them it looks thin on the ground.
This is not ideal in any circumstances, but for a side that’s scored just 21 goals all season (the lowest in the top half by some distance) you feel a crisis point has been reached.
When Reece James isn’t around Chelsea just don’t create enough chances. Manufacturing 146 shots in open play, they are ranked joint 12th in the division in that department. To put that into perspective they are level with Wolves!! Not good.
This lack of firepower, coupled with the pressure that’s engulfing the dressing room, makes me want to oppose Chelsea this weekend but there is a caveat that deters me; hanging your hat on Crystal Palace at the moment doesn’t feel right either.
They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Southampton, and a 4-1 reverse at home to Spurs was their third Premier League loss in four games.
Away from Selhurst Park they are usually competitive though. Patrick Vieira’s side have only lost three of eight, and most of their road trips end up being tight affairs.
They have let in 10 goals away from home but seven of those came in heavy defeats at Manchester City and Everton. Their other six away contests showcased a side that knows how to defend in difficult circumstances.
Palace do struggle for goals away from home, netting just seven so far, so I suspect you see where I am heading with my selection.
Yes, a depleted, misfiring, low-on-confidence Chelsea, up against a pretty solid but not-exactly-free-scoring Palace does point towards an ‘unders’ shout at the Bridge.
This is a match both managers will be desperate not to lose. Steadying the ship will be the name of the game.
Currently, Under 2.5 goals is available at Matchbook for 1.83 and that’s good enough for me. It’s hard to envisage a classic.
- Tottenham vs Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals (1.83)
- Chelsea vs Crystal Palace Under 2.5 Goals (1.83)
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