The final international break of 2018 is behind us, so focus now turns towards arguably the most intense spell of every Premier League season: the run-up to Christmas, and the festive period itself which provides several matches while the rest of Europe has a winter break.
Every team has to play nine league games in under six weeks, while many have European and/or Carabao Cup commitments too. The good news for supporters is that an international break is always followed by a big match, and the top clash this weekend is Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea.
This is always a fiercely contested London derby, but as the sides go into the weekend third and fourth in the table, just one point apart, there’s even more riding on it this time. Their similar records this season go a long way to explaining why the prices for either to win are so close. BetHard price Tottenham at 9/5, but have Chelsea as the 31/20 favourites. The away team won both meetings in 2017/18, so the bookmakers think the trend will continue.
However, I think the draw, which is available at 12/5, is the bet to go for. Simply put, both sides are in relatively poor form in their matches with the other top teams, so may cancel each other out.
The Blues did win the last meeting of these sides at Wembley, but haven’t won any of their four away league matches against teams from the big six since.
Spurs bounced back from their Chelsea woes by defeating Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal at home. They’ve lost their last four matches at the national stadium against other big teams though; Manchester City (twice) and Liverpool have won in the league, with United knocking Tottenham out of the FA Cup.
None of the last five matches between Spurs and Chelsea have ended level, so they’re due a stalemate. Games among the big six also end tied more often than other Premier League matches do, so place your bet on a draw here.
While tied games aren’t common when these clubs clash, goals certainly are. Only one of the last six meetings has seen under 2.5 goals, with the last six at Tottenham including 5-3 and 2-4 score lines.
However, this goes against their form in other big matches. Since the start of 2016/17, Tottenham have been involved in the joint-fewest league games among the big six that featured at least three goals. That record isn’t shared with Chelsea, but the Blues have been involved in the fewest such matches on the road.
It may be coincidence (or it could be down to a lack of defensive preparation time) but the big games following international breaks tend to feature plenty of goals. Five of the last seven have paid out on over 2.5 goals, so that’s the tip here. It’s available at 20/27 with Karamba.
Something else which often happens when these teams play each other but not so much in other games is both teams scoring. Of the 14 sides who have continually been in the Premier League since August 2016, Spurs are bottom of the home game chart for matches where both sides found the net, and Chelsea are joint-second bottom of the away table.
In the goalscorer markets, Chelsea possess a player who’s possibly due a goal and has enticing odds: Willian. The Brazilian is available at 8/1 to score the opening goal with 888sport, or the same firm offer 14/5 that he nets at some point.
Willian has scored twice in league matches among the big six since the start of last season – which is level with Eden Hazard – and once scored twice against Spurs at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final. More relevant here is that he has missed all four of his clear-cut chances this season, so will surely score one soon; using their average expected goal value, there’s only an eight percent chance an average player misses five out of five.
Kane has scored five times in his last six appearances, and yet – in the Premier League at least – he’s underperforming. He has scored once from his last 20 shots in the league, and is approximately one goal behind his expected goal tally in 2018/19. If he doesn’t net here, it won’t be too far in the future when he does.
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