Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
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The honeymoon period has been short-lived for Tim Sherwood after back-to-back heavy defeats by Chelsea and Benfica dealt major blows to his hopes of a Champions League place next season and dreams of Europa League glory. The pressure appears to be getting to Sherwood, who criticised his squad publicly after the 4-0 defeat at Chelsea and then had a touchline spat with Benfica boss Jorge Jesus as their Europa League tie unravelled at White Hart Line on Thursday night.
Arsene Wenger can concentrate on domestic issues following their Champions League exit at Bayern Munich on Tuesday night, with a run of five tough Premier League matches before their FA Cup semi-final against Wigan. Those next six games are going to decide whether their season is billed as exciting or exasperating. Wenger has injury problems, with star midfielders Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil all sidelined, but left-backs Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal could be available, along with midfielder Kim Kallstrom, who has yet to play following his January loan move.
Sherwood's Spurs have compiled a pretty good W8 D2 L3 record in the Premier League, although the three defeats have come in the last seven games and their defence has shipped a ton of goals in the biggest matches (losing 5-1 at home to Manchester City, 4-0 at Chelsea and 3-1 at home to Benfica). They also lost 2-0 at Arsenal in the FA Cup, which means they have won one and lost three against big-six teams in all competitions under Sherwood.
Most notably, Spurs are the only team without a clean sheet in a big-six clash this season, after eight attempts, and that spells trouble. Arsenal have won 11 and lost just two of the 17 away games in all competitions when they have scored and the only defeats were against Manchester City (6-3) and Liverpool (5-1) - and Tottenham are not up to that standard.
The big doubt about Arsenal is their continuing poor away record in big-six games - six straight defeats going back almost 18 months, a run that includes a 2-1 loss at Tottenham just over a year ago. The positive is that they have scored in five of those six defeats and that indicates a decent chance of taking something against Spurs.
There could be a Europa League factor too, as five of Tottenham's eight league defeats have followed Thursday-night European ties and the record is W0 D1 L4 against top-half sides.
It is hard to be fully confident of an Arsenal win but they look the team to back with a partial safety net off 0 & -0.5 on the Asian handicap at 2.0621/20 - with half the stake lost in the event of a draw.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Several indicators point to a high-scoring contest, including Tottenham's failure to register a clean sheet in a big-six clash this season, Arsenal's similar weakness on the road and the head-to-head record.
Eight of the last 10 league meetings at White Hart Lane had had over 2.5 goals and sixteen of the last 22 meetings overall have gone over that mark.
Six of Tottenham's eight big-six matches this season have had over 2.5 goals and the likelihood of Arsenal scoring is another significant indicator, as nine of the 12 away games in which they have scored have gone over 2.5 goals.
Arsenal off 0 & -0.5 on the Asian handicap at 2.0621/20
Over 2.5 Goals at 21/1