“The only stat that matters is the one in the top left of the screen, nerd!” is something I hear all the time.
“What if the match is on BT?”, I usually reply. “The league table never lies” is another line that gets trotted out.
Except that the table does lie, especially in the early stages of a season. Look at how the Premier League currently stands.
Some teams, including Chelsea, have played seven of their 12 games at home.
Meanwhile, Tottenham have played just four. Or none, Spurs fans?
If we focus on the big six mini league, Manchester City and Liverpool have played one more match than the other sides so have an easier fixture in hand. They’ve played three top teams away from home too, whereas Chelsea’s trio of big games have all been at Stamford Bridge.
So the meeting between Tottenham and Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday 5.30pm offers the chance to iron out a few of these anomalies. Both meetings last season were won by the away team, so can we expect that sequence to continue this week?
A big difference between the two matches in 2017/18 was that Chelsea were managed by ‘Antonio Conte, title winner’ at Wembley in August, but by ‘Antonio Conte, massive fraud’ the following April.
Whatever epithet is eventually applied to Maurizio Sarri, there’s no denying his side have started the season very well.
Which is why they’re narrow favourites to win this match. In fact, there’s not much to split the chances of all three outcomes in Paddy’s opinion.
Spurs are 17/10 to win, with the draw at 23/10 and Chelsea 6/4. This makes sense as neither side is in especially good form in the big matches.
Since winning at Wembley, Chelsea have drawn two and lost two of their four league trips to play other top teams.
Tottenham responded well to that defeat by beating Liverpool, United and Arsenal at home, but they’ve since lost to City (twice) and Liverpool in their last three big league matches at the national stadium. Spurs lost an FA Cup semi-final to United at Wembley in that period too.
With form like that, it’d be tempting to go for the draw. However, none of the last five meetings have been drawn, and Spurs have drawn just 6 of their last 38 league matches, with none this season.
I’m going to side with the ‘well, they’re probably due one then’ logic, and put my pennies on a stalemate.
As regular readers know, draws are more common in matches among the big six than for other Premier League matches too.
Knowledge is power, my friends.
Whether it’s a draw or not, these sides seem to bring goals out of each other. Five of the last six meetings between Tottenham and Chelsea have seen at least three goals. The last six clashes in north London have included a 5-3 home win and a 4-2 away victory too.
This is slightly surprising as overall these two teams don’t register highly on the ‘over 2.5 goals’ charts. Of the 14 ever present top-flight teams from the last three seasons, only three have had fewer home matches than Tottenham where at least three goals were scored.
However, the last three top-tier clashes following an international break have all seen over 2.5 goals, as have five of the last seven. A 17:30 kick-off seems to bring out the goals too for some reason, with 3.1 per match in big games over the past two years. So while it’s tough to call, I’ll be on over 2.5 goals, at 13/20.
As often happens, the statistics for matches where both teams score follow a similar pattern. It usually occurs when these teams play each other, but not so much when they’re up against other clubs. Only one of Spurs’ last six league matches has seen both sides find the net, and even then it was only thanks to two penalties. So they must be due one, right?
Seven of Chelsea’s last nine matches against other top sides have seen both teams score. One which didn’t was their loss at the Etihad where they didn’t bother to try, the other saw a Champions League-distracted Liverpool draw a blank at Stamford Bridge. Both teams will score here, so bet accordingly at 4/7.
As for potential goal scorers, there’s a player for Spurs who the law of averages state will score soon. You’ll never guess who. This tip is so good, keep it to yourself.
Our under the radar money maker is Harry Kane.
Kane has scored around one in five of his shots over the past five seasons, but in the past five league games he’s netted just once from 20 efforts.
He’s also Spurs’ top scorer in ‘big six’ league matches since the start of 2017/18, and is only behind Mo Salah overall, so has the pedigree. Kane is 7/2 to break the deadlock, or just 10/11 to score at any time.
For Chelsea fans out there, here’s a longer odds choice: Willian the Brazilian. The Blues’ #22 has missed all four of his clear-cut chances this season – only Charlie Austin and Gabriel Jesus have had more golden opportunities and missed the lot – so if he gets a good chance here then he stands a good chance of scoring. Willian is 13/5 to find the net, or 9/1 to bag the opener.
The outcome of this match may depend on who has the fittest squad to choose from after the international break. How the players performed is relevant too – Kane should be bouncing after scoring a later winner for England.
But we all know there’s only one stat that matters: how much money can we make this weekend.
*Prices correct at time of publishing.