Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Arsenal vs. Tottenham
It is undeniable that the balance of power in North London has shifted in recent seasons. After Arsenal went through an extended period of gleefully celebrating “St. Totteringham’s Day” (the day in which they cannot be mathematically surpassed by Spurs in the Premier League), the Gunners have watched their fierce local rivals finish above them in the past three seasons.
On the basis of this evidence, you may be inclined to back a comfortable Tottenham win. But that may not be wise.
For starters, Spurs do not have a good record at the Emirates. They may have won there in the League Cup last December, but they have managed just a single league win away to Arsenal in the past 26 years.
Additionally, Arsenal are unbeaten in North London Derbies held in September for 50 years, and they have the highest September win percentage of any Premier League club.
Furthermore, their start to the season (two wins and an understandable loss to Liverpool) has been far superior to Tottenham’s (an unconvincing win over Aston Villa, a draw at Man City and a shock home loss to Newcastle).
Arsenal are unbeaten in 18 of their last 19 home league matches, while Spurs have been poor on the road, failing to pick up a win in their last seven.
It must also be noted that all is not well within the Tottenham camp. There have been reports of disharmony in the dressing room, the manager appears unhappy with the chairman, and star midfielder Christian Eriksen is not being given full game time amid speculation of a transfer abroad.
Injuries are also hampering the Tottenham squad, particularly at right back, where only out-of-favor Serge Aurier appears to be fit. Having a deputy in that position up against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not ideal.
The bookmakers narrowly favor a home win, and there is little reason to believe otherwise.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham
Best Bet: A penalty being awarded in the match (2/1 with 888Sport). Penalties have been converted in three of the last five meetings between these sides, and five of the last 14 North London Derby goals have come from the spot.
Juventus vs. Napoli
The Derby della Capitale (more on that below) isn’t necessarily the biggest game in Italy this weekend. Defending champions Juventus are hosting Napoli, the team expected to give them the closest run in the title race.
Both squads come into this clash on the back of wins in the opening round. Juve navigated a trip to Parma that has given them difficulty in the past, while Napoli got the better of an utterly bonkers seven-goal thriller with Fiorentina.
Both teams have strengthened over the summer, too. The Old Lady broke the bank for defender Matthijs de Ligt and bolstered their midfield with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot. Napoli, meanwhile, have fortified the backline with Kostas Manolos and added support to a formidable frontline in the form of Chucky Lozano.
This match could set the tone for the rest of the season and could be intensified by manager Maurizio Sarri’s presence on Juve’s bench against his former side, if he’s recovered from pneumonia in time.
Napoli certainly have the potential to cause an upset in Turin, where Juventus are undefeated in 21 matches—and they pulled off a 1-0 victory in April 2018. But naturally, the odds favor Juve, who are formidable on home soil.
One thing is for sure: There should be goals. Both sides have potent front lines, and have both scored over 2.5 goals in their last five league matches. The last goalless league fixture between these two was in March 1997.
Prediction: Juventus 3-2 Napoli
Best Bet: Jose Callejon anytime scorer (4/1 with SkyBet). The Spaniard scored last weekend and found the net in Napoli’s most recent meeting with Juve. Given those facts, his odds offer excellent value.
Lazio vs. Roma
It’s not only the Premier League that is offering a box office crosstown rivalry this weekend: Sunday’s Derby della Capitale sees Lazio host fellow Stadio Olimpico tenants Roma.
Lazio are off to a good start in Serie A, with a hard-fought victory at Sampdoria last weekend bringing their winning streak to seven games in all competitions. Roma, meanwhile, conspired to a 3-3 home draw against Genoa, though the Giallorossi haven’t lost a league match since March and have generally had the better of this rivalry.
The most recent Rome derby in March saw Lazio triumph 3-0 against a Roma side who may have been preoccupied by their own Champions League campaign. Given this result, and Lazio’s recent form, they are very narrow favorites in this derby. It’s too close to call, so a score-draw may be the winning ticket.
Prediction: Lazio 2-2 Roma
Best Bet: Over 3.5 goals (6/4 with BetVictor). Three of the last six Rome derbies have featured over 3.5 goals, with 19 total goals scored in those games.
Philadelphia Union vs. Atlanta United
Philadelphia and Atlanta are tied atop the Eastern Conference on 48 points, giving extra heft to Saturday evening’s clash in Pennsylvania.
Atlanta have the slight advantage, with a game in hand and one additional win on the season, but Philly have been in excellent home form and will regard this as one of their biggest regular season games in recent memory.
The defending MLS champions, however, are in imperious form. Atlanta United are enjoying a streak of seven wins in all competitions, which includes two championship wins: the Campeones Cup over Club America, and the U.S. Open Cup over Minnesota United.
Atlanta left Philadelphia with a 2-0 win last season and a 2-2 draw in 2017. They haven’t failed to score against the Union in their previous five meetings, and the home side will be without the suspended Alejandro Bedoya.
Despite the visitors’ apparent good standing, the bookmakers are giving them longer odds in this contest. Take advantage of those odds, as ATL appear to be in the driver’s seat for this one.
Prediction: Philadelphia 0-2 Atlanta
Best Bet: Josef Martinez first goal-scorer (10/3 with bet365). The Venezuelan has scored in 12 consecutive league matches (which diminishes his “anytime scorer” odds) but he has scored the opener on three of those occasions.
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