Weblog: The football punter
Arsenal and Spurs set for an entertaining derby
EFL Cup quarter-final
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Wednesday
Arsenal and Tottenham fought out arguably the best game of the English domestic season at the beginning of December and they get the chance to renew hostilities with a place in the EFL Cup semi-finals up for grabs at the Emirates.
The Gunners ran out 4-2 winners in the Premier League meeting, putting in a terrific second-half performance to come back from 2-1 down, and are slim favourites to progress at the expense of their north London rivals.
Much will come down to team selection. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, who has been the subject of plenty of speculation regarding the vacant Manchester United job since Jose Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday morning, has plenty of attacking options at his disposal and should pick a strong team in a bid to gain revenge on Unai Emery’s Gunners.
That could include a start for Harry Kane. The England captain has a wonderful north London derby record, scoring in six of his last seven games against Arsenal, and is an obvious threat if he leads the line for the Lilywhites.
Arsenal demonstrated once again that they are strong in attack and weak in defence as they lost for the first time since the opening day of the season on Sunday, going down 3-2 against Southampton at St Mary’s.
Emery must fix his leaky backline if Arsenal are to continue to rival Spurs and Chelsea for a top-four place in the league. But a series of defensive injuries are making that an almost impossible short-term ambition so the Gunners are likely to view attack as the best form of defence at the Emirates.
The Arsenal manager says he intends to pick the best players available and stressed that he will not pick too many young players in a game of this importance.
Despite the result of their Premier League meeting, there is clearly little between the teams and, while Arsenal were decent value for their victory, Tottenham could easily respond and the match betting prices look about right.
An open game looks almost certain but bookmakers are aware of that and over 2.5 goals is priced up at a best-priced 7-11 while both teams to score is only a 1-2 shot.
With both teams evenly matched a draw looks entirely possible and punters could do worse than split their stakes on two score-draws which would see the game decided on penalties.