Arsenal vs. Tottenham odds, preview, and pick
Two bitter rivals face off in our Premier League match of the weekend, as Arsenal hosts Tottenham in the 189th version of the North London Derby (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
The Spurs come into the match winners of three straight, but are slight underdogs to the Gunners on Sunday.
Sun, March 14 2021, 4:30 PM
Arsenal looking to find consistency
For more than twenty years, Arsenal fans annually celebrated a holiday every spring, without fail. The day was known as St. Totteringham’s Day, and it signified the day where it was no longer mathematically possible for Tottenham to finish above Arsenal in the Premier League table. It was a sense of pride for their fans, and humiliating for fans of their rivals.
The holiday has disappeared over the past few years though, as the Spurs have now finished ahead of their bitter rivals in each of the last four seasons. Now there’s a seven-point gap between Tottenham and Arsenal, as the Gunners languish in 10th place entering the weekend. They have taken just 11 victories in 27 matches, with 11 defeats costing them valuable points in the race for European football next year.
It’s North London Derby time. Put aside the table & the Europa League 2nd legs. It’s about beating your rival & Mikel Arteta fixing an unwanted series streak. After a solid win Thursday, who starts on Sunday with more than three points on the line? #ARSTOT https://t.co/gOkcTUCBQ2— The Socially Distanced Fuse (@TheShortFuse) March 13, 2021
Their attack has not been the issue of late, with Arsenal registering 55 shots over their past four matches and scoring three goals in all but one of them. It is the defensive errors – sometimes comical – that have hurt them of late, including in their 1-1 draw with Burnley last weekend. It also saw them concede a careless goal midweek against Olympiacos in Europa League. Those sorts of mistakes against Tottenham could see them fall at home to their rivals in the Premier League for the first time since November 2010.
Mikel Arteta’s team selection will be key to how this match plays out. He tends to play Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny in holding midfield against big clubs, which would stunt their recent attacking prowess. Furthermore, he could play Willian to shore up the defense rather than Nicolas Pepe or Martin Odegaard, and in doing so would limit their ability to expose Spurs’ weak right flank in defense.
Will Gareth Bale torture the Gunners yet again?
Sunday will mark the first time in nearly eight years that a North London Derby featured Gareth Bale. In that March 2013 meeting, the Welshman did what he has done many times against the Gunners, finding the back of the net after a powerful run through the middle. In ten meetings against Arsenal, Bale has five goals and an assist.
Now he has regained his stellar form, so much so that he was rested in Thursday’s Europa League 2-0 victory against Dinamo Zagreb. Manager Jose Mourinho has allowed his ultra-defensive tactics to give way to a free-flowing attack over the past month, spearheaded by Bale’s terrific play. The Spurs have won five consecutive matches, scoring four goals in three of those wins and allowing just a single goal. Bale has found the net four times in his last three Premier League matches.
His play down the right has opened up the pitch for Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, and the three have combined for multiple goals recently with Bale switching play from the right to find his two attack mates on the left as they run through the spaces he has created. Deploying Lucas Moira at the No. 10 role has also helped open things up, but Mourinho might be tempted to run a more defense-minded three-man midfield in this matchup. If he does, it could stifle the attack a bit and allow Arsenal to focus more on the main men in Tottenham’s attack.
🗣"Gaz is a player that when he plays he performs and leads by example"— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 12, 2021
Former Tottenham captain Michael Dawson is happy his former teammate Gareth Bale is finally hitting form at Spurs ahead of the North London Derby and says what he is like to play with pic.twitter.com/A6vCVcs44H
Like Tottenham, the weak spot in Arsenal’s defense is their right side. The Gunners have rotated three players at right back, and all of them will be overmatched by Kane and Son running through the channels on Sunday. If Bale is able to terrorize Arsenal’s back line, it could lead to multiple chances to find the back of the net.
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Tottenham has not lost to Arsenal in their last five meetings, with the reverse fixture in December being a 2-0 victory for Spurs. A win on Sunday would give them the league double for the first time since 1992-1993. A win would also give them their first three-match win streak against Arsenal since 1974.
Arsenal have lost just twice at home to the Spurs in the top flight in their last 35 meetings. Overall, the Gunners are unbeaten in their last seven home matches in the league.
Jose Mourinho, as manager of three different clubs in the Premier League, has lost to Arsenal just twice in 22 career meetings.
These two teams love to share the spoils. In fact, only Everton and Liverpool have ended their meetings in the Premier League era with a draw more than the 23 recorded by Arsenal and Tottenham.
Tottenham and Arsenal have each drawn more bookings against their opponents than any club in the league this season, with a combined 113 shown. When they get together, sparks tend to fly, and it could impact the outcome. Their meetings average 4.2 bookings, the third-highest in the league’s history, with 13 red cards shown. Furthermore, no team has seen more red cards over the past two seasons than the nine handed out to Arsenal.
On form, Tottenham are the better side. However, the lineups and tactics decided on will dictate so much of how this match plays out. Without knowing those, it is hard to give an accurate prediction. No matter how they line up, pressure breaks pipes, and the issues Arsenal have had at the back will likely see them concede at least one bad goal. It’s highly unlikely that Arsenal will hold them to less than two goals, a feat they have accomplished just once in their last six meetings.
As for the result, a draw is the most likely outcome. However, if Mourinho sticks to what has worked of late and allows the Spurs to attack Arsenal, I believe that the north part of London will be painted white this weekend. Take the Spurs to win with a draw returning your money.