EPL

Arteta wants to prove supercomputer wrong as Arsenal prepare for derby test

By Sports Desk April 27, 2024

Mikel Arteta is looking to prove the Opta supercomputer wrong as Arsenal prepare for perhaps the biggest test of their Premier League title credentials, in Sunday's North London derby at Tottenham.

Arsenal began the weekend one point clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, though Pep Guardiola's men have a game in hand and have been in ominous form lately, winning their last four league matches. 

Five wins for City will ensure they retain their crown, and according to the Opta supercomputer, the champions started the weekend with a 71.7% chance of topping the pile, compared to 26.6% for Arsenal and just 1.7% for Liverpool.

Arteta hopes to see Arsenal's figure boosted by a derby win, saying: "I don't know what to say, hopefully we can trick that computer and make it a bit higher! 

"Maybe it needs to update the software, we need to help it or give it more tools. Hopefully we can change that!

"We are there. We have to look at ourselves and try to perform in the best possible way to win our matches and I can't wait to see what happens.

"We had a big win in the last London derby against Chelsea and now we have another big one. I'm sure if we're going to win the league, we're going to have to beat Spurs as well."

Tottenham, meanwhile, need points if they are to overhaul Aston Villa in the battle for Champions League qualification, with fifth place now extremely unlikely to be enough.

Ange Postecoglou, though, is more interested in seeing how Spurs measure up to a side they hope to challenge in the future.

"We understand the importance of the game but ultimately, it's still about us measuring ourselves against the teams we want to be challenging on a more consistent basis," Postecoglou said.

"It's a great opportunity to do that on Sunday."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tottenham – Son Heung-min 

Son scored twice for Spurs in the reverse fixture against Arsenal in September – a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium. In all competitions, only five players have scored more goals in the fixture's history than Son's seven. 

The only player to score multiple goals in both north London derby matches in a league season was Arsenal's Ted Drake, who did so back in 1934-35.

Arsenal – Martin Odegaard 

Odegaard has been involved in six goals in his last six away appearances in the Premier League, scoring three and assisting three.

The Gunners captain was in mesmerising form in Tuesday's 5-0 win over Chelsea, leading all players on the pitch for assists (two), chances created (eight), passes into the final third (34) and duels won (eight). A repeat performance would be huge for the visitors' title hopes.

MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

Tottenham have won just one of their last six Premier League games against Arsenal (one draw, four defeats), with their four losses in this span as many as they had suffered in their previous 16 against the Gunners (six wins, six draws).

They also lost this exact fixture 2-0 last season, meaning the Gunners could win on back-to-back league trips to Tottenham for the first time since enjoying a run of three victories there between 1987 and 1988.

Arteta's men know there is no margin for error with the title race in City's hands.

Even a draw could prove fatal to their hopes – at the end of the 2015-16 season, the North London derby was the most drawn fixture in Premier League history, with 20 of 48 meetings finishing level (42 per cent). Since then, only four matches between these rivals have seen the points shared (27 per cent).

Arsenal have kept six straight clean sheets on their travels in the Premier League, with only two teams ever keeping seven in a row – Chelsea from September to December 2008 and Manchester United from November to February in 2008-09. The Gunners should have enough to grind out a huge win.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Tottenham – 31%

Arsenal – 41.3% 

Draw – 27.7%

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