Does the first goal win the North London Derby?

Wembley Stadium has been Arsenal’s second home, and a very happy one at that, so it would be sensible to ignore their lamentable away record ahead of a very special North London derby. Think of this as a neutral venue.

Football betting expert Adrian Clarke previews this one…

Tottenham v Arsenal | 10 Feb 12:30

How do both sides approach it? A slow start won’t suit either of them.

Arsenal always seem to be at their best when they come flying out of the blocks (they have been 4-0 up at half-time in their last two home games) and I also feel they would be wise to check out Tottenham’s record whenever their opponents concede the first goal.

Spurs have gone 1-0 down ten times this season, and in each of those matches, they failed to win.

A sorry return of five wins and five defeats from positions trailing by a goal should provide the Gunners with enough incentive to go for it right from the off.

There’s another reason why Arsene Wenger’s men must not, under any circumstances, leave their focus in the gargantuan-sized Wembley dressing rooms too.

Tottenham are immense frontrunners, taking 14 victories and a draw from 15 1-0 leads.

The 27/20 on Spurs to score first and win, will appeal to many punters.

The goalscorer market is dominated by Harry Kane, who is set at a remarkably low price of 7/10 to score anytime. To gain value, you may want to look at him to be first scorer instead, at 11/4.

Having bagged six goals in six derbies against Arsenal – the team that let him go from their academy at the age of 11 – they are definitely one of his ‘lucky’ teams.

This new-look Arsenal will trouble Spurs at the back though.

The pace of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the break is a serious weapon, especially against Pochettino’s men, who like to press and hold a high line.

Chief creators Ozil and Mkhitaryan will look to play him in behind whenever its on to do so, and if he isolates Jan Vertonghen, Arsenal’s record signing won’t get caught!

Aubameyang to score in a surprise Gunners win is 5/1, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see that scenario play out.

Earlier on this season Arsenal bossed the North London derby with a display of outstanding aggression and focus. They knocked Spurs off balance with a superb high tempo effort.

If they repeat that, they have a chance of winning (13/5).

This Tottenham side is capable of giving any opponent a hiding, but they can be equally fragile when put under pressure too. Should Arsenal press them hard and get in their faces, a shock is on the cards.

I do see goals, but in true splinter-inducing fence-sitting style I believe they will be shared.

My tip is to take the draw (27/10) and more specifically a 2-2 final score, which would provide wonderful entertainment and value for money at 19/2.

Manchester City v Leicester City | 10 February 17:30

Anyone seen Riyad Mahrez? No, didn’t think so!

This fixture, in light of Manchester City’s late and unsuccessful bid to lure the AWOL Algerian away from Leicester City, has taken on an element of spite, which should make it a tasty watch on Saturday evening.

At 2/9 it’s not really worth backing the champions-elect, but purely from a football perspective, when I see a price of 23/2 on the away win I can’t help but be interested.

The Foxes will miss Mahrez for sure (providing he doesn’t turn up for duty) but I don’t see them as complete no-hopers, especially given that Leroy Sane is missing.

To me, City’s stumbling draw at Burnley outlined the importance of their wonderful wingers’ absence.

Leicester’s defence will, of course, have to show incredible resilience for them to stand a prayer, but lest we forget, this is a team that’s pulled off fairytales before.

Jamie Vardy is 13/5 to score, and with Claude Puel’s men naturally fired up to beat the club who turned Mahrez’s head, that is a gamble I’d be willing to take.

Will they win? The odds tell us they won’t, but I have a famous and thrilling 2-3 Leicester triumph in my head (60/1) and it just won’t go away.

For the sake of the title race that’s possibly wishful thinking on my part, but where the Foxes are concerned stranger things have happened.

Southampton v Liverpool | 11 February 16:30

Will Virgil van Dijk pull up lame with a mystery hamstring injury? You couldn’t blame if he did, for the Dutchman can expect to get pelters on his return to St Mary’s.

The Saints fans would be deliriously happy to dish out a victory against Liverpool, the club their board members continue to feed via big money transfers.

A 3-2 win at West Brom lifted spirits and kept the wolf away from Mauricio Pellegrino’s door, but are Southampton good enough to take three points off Liverpool? Common sense and a review of performances this term says no.

Vexed by a sense of injustice against Spurs, I envisage Klopp’s men seeing this through in a ruthless and clinical manner.

I was at Anfield for the reverse fixture, and the bridge in class feels too big for revenge to be taken.

I’d recommend 10/13 on Liverpool, and wouldn’t be shocked if they grabbed another 3-0 win at Southampton’s expense (13/1).

Mr Van Dijk is probably dreading this reunion, but I expect him to feel happy when the final whistle blows.





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