Tottenham v Chelsea (Saturday 17:30)
I have to admit, I was slightly surprised to see Chelsea chalked up as favourites to win at Wembley on Saturday. Of course, it’s a contest the Blues traditionally dominate but since Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival at Tottenham, head-to-head parity has been restored between the two London rivals.
Looking purely at Premier League meetings, Spurs have won three of their last seven encounters with the Blues – as many victories as they’d picked up in their previous 49 showdowns with the West Londoners. And when hosting, Tottenham have suffered just two defeats in 12 against Chelsea now.
Clearly, the inferiority complex no longer exists so it’s worth understanding why the visitors are favoured in the pre-match markets. For starters, Chelsea are unbeaten under Maurizio Sarri thus far, and whilst the league table might suggest there’s only one point between the two clubs, the Blues have racked up a goal difference that’s almost double what Spurs have managed.
What’s more, Chelsea are also posting more impressive performance data figures across a range of metrics. However, looking purely at the data isn’t an entirely fair reflection on Tottenham and how their campaign has panned out.
Spurs have won each of their nine outings against clubs in eighth or below, losing all three against top-seven dwellers Watford, Liverpool and Manchester City. But Pochettino’s posse went down by one-goal margins in each reverse, the first two of which arrived early in the season when the majority of the squad were still recovering from an arduous World Cup summer.
Meanwhile, due to the issues with moving (or not) stadiums, Tottenham have played eight of their opening 12 games on the road, with two of their four matches as hosts coming against the division’s front-runners, Liverpool and Man City. Therefore, Spurs’ numbers are clearly going to be skewed by the schedule.
The North Londoners may not have been at their sparkling best this season but they are steadily improving. The hosts have been beaten twice in 12 now – against Barcelona and City – and on both occasions they created opportunities that could have merited an improved final outcome.
The injury crisis has also softened with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli fit enough to feature from the off, with Moussa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen the only major casualties this weekend. And defensively too, Tottenham have improved, conceding just once from open play in six Premier League contests (against City).
So I can understand the odds due to the various factors outlined above, but I do believe Spurs warrant more respect in the markets and that’s why backing them with a +0.25 start at 1.72 is favoured on Saturday evening. We’ll make a half-stakes profit should the two teams share the spoils.
However, we shouldn’t rule out a home win. Chelsea have slightly overperformed in domestic duty and since starting with five successive victories, the Blues have been held in four of their following seven outings – the exceptions coming against bottom-six opponents.
Indeed, in all three meetings with Big Six under Sarri it’s fair to say the visitors have been second-best – and the move to push N’Golo Kante further forward to accommodate Jorginho has led to extra space to exploit by the stronger sides. Spurs – with arguably their best XI starting yet in 2018/19 – should relish such freedom and are more than capable of punishing their capital neighbours.
Bournemouth v Arsenal (Sunday 1.30pm)
In six previous Premier League meetings, Bournemouth and Arsenal have produced 20 goals at an average rate of 3.33 goals per-game – the Gunners notched at least twice in five of those fixtures and will have plenty of support at odds-against quotes on Super Sunday.
The Gunners arrive at the south coast unbeaten in 16, having won five of their last six on the road and racking up 16 goals in the process. Unai Emery’s outfit are expecting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both to be passed fit and therefore pitch up with their star marksmen in tow.
Bournemouth are without key right-back Adam Smith, although Eddie Howe will expect another competitive outing from his Cherries team. The hosts rattled Manchester United before succumbing 2-1 here, whilst Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners despite an excellent effort at Stamford Bridge from the Cherries.
The obvious selection is to again support goals. The line has been set higher than normal here but there’s still plenty of signals to suggest there’s value in backing Overs with 1.66 available on the Over 2.75 Goals market.
Nine of Bournemouth’s 12 matches have produced three or more goals, at an average rate of 3.08 per-game. The Cherries average Expected Goals per-game stands at a whopping 3.50, whilst the divisional goals per-game average stands at a healthy 2.75.
Since the start of 2017/18 – Howe’s men have seen 68% of games cross the Over 2.5 Goals barrier, and more recently it’s 26 of their last 33 featuring three or more goals. At Dean Court, Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 13/17 of late, whilst half of their last 10 when welcoming Big Six clubs have returned Over 3.5 Goals.
Bournemouth are renowned for their attack-minded and aesthetically-pleasing approach, but the south coast club often fall down in defensive areas. The Cherries have recorded only six shutouts in 37 and it’s difficult to believe Arsenal will be unable to pierce their unsteady backline.
The Gunners aren’t exactly watertight themselves; the capital club have seen both sides score in nine of their 12 Premier League matches under Emery, recording a paltry two shutouts. Those encounters have averaged just shy of 3.50 goals per-game with the xG average also north of 3.00 goals per-game.
Arsenal have recorded Over 2.5 Goals in 67% of their away days since the beginning of last season, as well as Over 3.5 Goals in 42% of the same sample. Since Emery arrived at the Emirates, four of their five games as guests have produced four or more goals and so it makes case to support another shootout on Sunday.
- Tottenham v Chelsea – Tottenham +0.25 Asian Handicap (1.72)
- Bournemouth v Arsenal – Over 2.75 goals (1.66)
Mark O’Haire joined Mark Stinchombe and Ali Maxwell on the Matchbook Betting Podcast to preview this weekends football action. Listen below, and search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app to subscribe.