As anyone in a position of power within football will tell you, the fixture list is generated randomly. It’s just complete chance that Merseyside and Manchester derbies take place on the same weekend, or so they’d have you believe.
However random it actually is, one thing is true: on every weekend following a mid-season international break since November 2013, there has been a match between two members of the big six. But only one such match each time, as the random fixture generator doesn’t want you to get greedy.
Not that I’m complaining, of course. It’s only right you have a decent game to sink your teeth into after a tedious fortnight where the only thing to cheer you is if your players don’t get injured. This week, it’s Chelsea against Tottenham, so where should we place our bets?
Looking at the form guide for matches directly following international breaks would definitely point you towards Chelsea at 13/10. It’s not really a fair comparison though, as they’ve only played two ‘big six’ matches on such weekends since the summer of 2012, whereas Spurs have played eight. It’s just random though, don’t forget!
Anyway, Chelsea have won both of their top of the table clashes after internationals, and both happened to be against Tottenham. Spurs, on the other hand, have drawn two and lost six, most recently suffering defeat against Arsenal last November. If that loss is not proof of a conspiracy, I don’t know what is.
One thing that does make predicting the outcome difficult is these sides have near identical records in league matches among the top six since the start of last season. Like, spookily similar.
That may suggest the draw, priced at 11/5, is the way to go, as the teams may cancel each other out. However, there has only been one draw in the last six meetings away from Tottenham’s ground, and that was the infamous match in 2016 when Spurs went into meltdown and Leicester won the title.
That is the only one of those six matches which Spurs haven’t lost, so perhaps their temper tantrums actually helped them that evening? Andre Marriner, you have been warned.
Whether Tottenham blow a gasket or not, there does seem to be fair chance one of the teams will fail to score. Over the past two seasons, these teams have been at the bottom end of the Premier League when it comes to matches where both teams find the net.
This applies to the big matches too. Only Jose Mourinho’s party bus of joy have featured in fewer matches among the top six where both teams scored. A ‘No’ bet in this market can be yours at Even money, and I would strongly suggest you consider it.
The above statistics are obviously influenced by both Chelsea and Spurs having racked up 14 opposition shut-outs in the league in 2017/18, which is only just behind the two Manchester clubs on 15.
I’m tempted by the 15/8 on offer that Chelsea will keep a clean sheet. Nine of their 14 shut-outs have come at home this season, and while Tottenham have only failed to score three times in the league in 2017/18, two of those have been away to other big sides. Well, Manchester United and Arsenal, but you get the idea.
Harry Kane will be missing too, which will obviously reduce Spurs’ chances of bagging a goal.
He has scored four times in the big six mini-league this term, which is the most by any player on either side. After him, Tottenham’s next top scorers in the big Premier League matches this season have been Christian Eriksen and Own Goal with two, and you can never rely on the latter turning up.
The former might be worth a look though. The Dane can be backed at 9/1 to open the scoring, or 7/2 to bag a goal at some point. In his last four matches in the league and Europe, Eriksen has taken 16 shots without netting, so the law of averages suggests he might be due a goal soon. He has also opened the scoring in a big six match this season, which is something no other available Spurs player can say.
As I mentioned in my preview of Barcelona vs Chelsea last time out, it’s so difficult to know who Antonio Conte will start up front as he seems to hate all his forwards equally. Their best option in the scorer market is Willian, who is priced at 11/4 to score any time, or 7/1 to break the deadlock. Like Eriksen, he has two goals including one opener in big league matches in 2017/18, but he also has form in the shape of five goals in his last seven appearances for the Blues.
Whether the Brazilian scores first or not, I think Chelsea will, and so I’ll be having a piece of the 4/5 on them in the Team to Score the First Goal market. Spurs have conceded the opening goal eight times on the road this season, which is the most of any of the top six, and that includes doing so in all four of their trips to their immediate rivals.
I think Chelsea will have a little too much for a Kane-less Spurs, so I’ll be taking the 13/2 for a 1-0 on the Correct Score market as well. The omens, history, and random fixture generator are all on my side. Join us.
* All odds correct at time of posting