West Ham are 500/1 to win the Premier League and even though that might sound like a fanciful proposition they are the team in form and with the momentum. It’s their last season at Upton Park before moving to the Olympic Stadium and qualifying for the Champions League is certainly not beyond them. By the time the Hammers kick-off at Everton on Saturday afternoon the biggest north London derby for many years will have taken place.
The meeting between Tottenham and Arsenal at White Hart Lane is the first live match of the weekend and it could be the most significant. Both London clubs lost in midweek which means Leicester lead the table by three points with just 10 fixtures remaining. Surely now is the time to lay off your bet if you backed Leicester at 5000/1 to win the league. In fact they were my tip for relegation so I was spot on with that one!
Slaven Bilic, the manager of West Ham, described his side’s 1-0 win over Tottenham on Wednesday evening as perfect. They scored early, defended well and continued to create chances. Tottenham did not play with their usual fluency but missed some sitters. Harry Kane managed to scuff a shot from about two yards and Dele Alli was only introduced when his team had to chase the game. Mauricio Pochettino said his players did not perform easily and that does not augur well for their title chances.
Arsenal appear to have totally gone and backed up their capitulation at Manchester United on Sunday by losing at home to Swansea. They had 63% of the possession, won seven corners as opposed to three for Swansea and had five more shots than the visitors from Wales. Even the opening goal after 15 minutes did not lead to a relaxed performance and Swansea scored in each half to win all three points.
Arsene Wenger is still one of the outsiders in the Premier League Sack Race and is a big price not to be the manager of Arsenal on the first day of next season. He has had criticism from former players and neutrals in the last week but all will be well in the world if Arsenal beat Tottenham. Conversely if the result goes the other way and Arsenal cannot win the league Wenger may consider retiring at the end of the season.
Tottenham have lost 2 of 14 home league matches this season to date, scoring 25 goals and conceding 10. Only Manchester United have given up fewer goals at their own stadium and only Manchester City and Chelsea have scored more goals at home. Arsenal have won exactly 50% of their 14 away fixtures but conceded most goals on the road of the teams in the top four. The relative goal differences of Tottenham at home and Arsenal away gives Spurs an 8 goal edge which averaged over the season equates to one half of a goal for Asian handicap betting purposes.
The two London clubs have met 210 times in competitive fixtures of which Arsenal have won 80, lost 61 and there have been 49 draws. More recently Tottenham have won only two of the last 10 meetings, lost six and there have been two draws. Both teams have scored in the last four fixtures and in 7 of the last 10 and over that run of matches more than two goals have been scored five times. A low scoring draw looks the most likely outcome which puts the ball firmly in Leicester’s court.
The surprise league leaders have a winnable match at Watford at tea time on Saturday. Given scoring records Tottenham would take over at the top if they beat Arsenal. A win for Leicester could take them six points clear if Arsenal win the north London derby. Only Aston Villa have scored fewer goals at home than Watford this season and Leicester’s opponents have won just 5 of 14 home league fixtures. Leicester have the best away record in the Premier League so Saturday could be the day when everybody starts believing.
Manchester City and Arsenal are dropping down the league like stones which means West Ham and Manchester United can qualify for the Champions League. It’s ridiculous to think one of the two United’s could win the Premier League but after the results on Wednesday anything could transpire over the next two months. But the man who had a tenner at Leicester at 5000/1 should be opening a laying account.