Tottenham v Arsenal
Sunday April 30, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports 1


Tottenham fans can be a self-deprecating bunch, greeting painful defeats with gallows humour and a rueful smile. There's a feeling perhaps that no matter how well the Lilywhites play, they'll do something "Spursy", like having big spells of dominance against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, but still losing 4-2.

However, there was nothing "Spursy" about the way Mauricio Pochettino's men went to Selhurst Park and beat an in-form Crystal Palace side 1-0. In fact, it was the opposite - Spurs weren't at their free-flowing best, but found a way to win, as Christian Eriksen's superb long-range drive sent to points from south London to north London.

There's nothing "Spursy" about a team that has won 12 Premier League home games in a row, and that has won its last eight league matches overall. This is one of the most vibrant young teams in Europe, with quality all the way through from keeper Hugo Lloris to top scorer Harry Kane. It's a team that's trying to challenge the narrative, attempting to prove it has learned from past heartaches, and can mount a serious title push.

The outstanding Pochettino says his club is going through an exciting evolution, and it is hard to disagree. A new stadium is getting ever closer, most of Tottenham's key performers have time and space to develop even further, and a manager who leads his charges with a fierce pride shows no signs of abandoning the project.

It's perhaps a sign of Spurs' progress that Opta tell us they could set a record against their old rivals on Sunday. They are unbeaten in their last five league meetings with Arsenal, and they have never gone six league games without defeat against the Gunners. Pochettino has carved out his own slice of history, becoming the first Tottenham boss to avoid defeat in his first five north London derbies.

Sorely-missed left-back Danny Rose in back in training but not fit enough to play this weekend, while Mousa Dembele is struggling with an ankle problem. Erik Lamela and Harry Winks are out for the season.


Cancel the cake, and take down the bunting. The festival of St Totteringham's Day, when Arsenal fans celebrate the fact that Spurs can't mathematically catch them in the league, looks like a distant dream for the red half of north London. There is a 14-point gap between the sides, and while Tottenham are in the midst of a title push, Arsenal are scrambling to extend their run of Champions League qualifications.

Of course, it may well be that Spurs end up with nothing, and Arsenal win the FA Cup. As thrilling as that would be for Arsenal fans, in their heart of hearts they would know it was a big exercise in papering over the cracks. This has not been a campaign to savour.

Confusion still reigns when it comes to the future of Arsene Wenger as manager. He continues to grip his throne, knuckles blanching with the effort. If he delivers a top-four finish and a trophy, he can argue he has delivered a successful campaign. An angry minority will disagree.

There has at least been a recent improvement. Hard-fought league wins over Middlesbrough and Leicester City sandwiched an excellent FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City, and all three games featured a new three-man defence. The system is working well so far, but an injury to Shkodran Mustafi and a nagging knee problem for Laurent Koscielny means young defender Rob Holding will probably be thrust into the maelstrom of a north London derby.

Perception is everything for Wenger at the moment. Opta tell us he has gone five north London derbies without a win for the first time, but victory could reinforce the idea that the Frenchman signing a new deal is a good idea.

Match Odds

Spurs are favourites at 1.90, and given their recent form that's about right. They have won every single Premier League home game since the start of November, including eye-catching victories against Manchester City and Chelsea.

Arsenal have lost four of their last five away games in the league, including humbling reverses at Chelsea and Liverpool, and gutless defeats at Crystal Palace and West Brom. They've also been beaten at Everton and Manchester City this term, and I believe their recovery is a fragile one, especially against one of the best young teams on the continent.
I'm backing the hosts.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

The market clearly expects goals here, with Over 2.5 Goals trading at 1.61, and Both Teams To Score on at 1.51. That makes sense - both teams have scored in the last five north London derbies, although if you want a case to back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.58, it's worth noting that five of the last seven Premier League showdowns between these two have featured fewer than three goals.

To Score

Our friends at Opta tell us that Harry Kane has scored in his last four PL appearances against Arsenal, and no Spurs player has scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal than the England striker. Kane is the first Englishman to score 20 goals or more in three consecutive top-flight campaigns since Alan Shearer in the mid-nineties, and he is on great form, with seven goals in his last seven appearances.

Kane is evens to score at any time on the Sportsbook, which I think is an attractive price.

Recommended Bets
Back Spurs to win at 1.90
Back Harry Kane to score at 2.00 (sportsbook)

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