Saturday is set to serve up a fantastic feast of football this weekend, with a great portion of the week's top matches to be played early on. Arguably the biggest game of the weekend opens proceedings up, with Tottenham travelling a short distance to visit north London rivals Arsenal for the lunchtime kick off in the Premier League. There are a number of games to take anyone's fancy later on in the day, with top clubs facing off all over Europe, but one of the most enticing games sees title-chasers Napoli host crisis-club AC Milan in Serie A. It is therefore these games that the WhoScored Tipster is focussing on this week, so here are our tips for the upcoming action.
Arsenal vs Tottenham - Match Preview
It is no secret that Arsenal have been by far and away the more successful of the north London clubs during the Premier League years, but Tottenham have certainly made inroads in terms of catching up their rivals in more recent times. Both sides have had mixed starts to the season, with inconsistency a recurring theme. The Gunners won at Anfield before smashing 6 past Southampton, but have also suffered disappointing results against the likes of Norwich and Sunderland, while Spurs won at Old Trafford just a few weeks before going down 1-0 at home to Wigan.
The form book usually goes out of the window for derbies of this ilk, anyway, and for very few games is such a cliché as apt as this one. The last two meetings between the sides at the Emirates have seen a comeback win from 2-0 down for either side, and we are sure to be in for a fair few surprises once again. Going on previous results, though, we should expect goals to be scored, and a fair few of them, at that.
There have been 21 goals netted in the last four north London derbies, and 23 in the last four at the Emirates Stadium, including last season's 5-2 win for Arsenal and the 4-4 draw in October 2008. Furthermore, in all competitions, there have been at least 3 goals scored in nine of the last ten clashes between the sides, so a bet on over 2.5 goals, at odds of 1.57, are certainly worthwhile.
Surprisingly, cards are not all that common, despite the fierce rivalry between the teams; Scott Parker's red card last season was the first in seven meetings since Emmanuel Eboue was sent off at White Hart Lane in 2009, so it may be worth staying away from such bets, with referees reluctant to get their cards out too often in order to keep the game under control.
The presence of former Gunners William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor in the Tottenham lineup will certainly add to the fire, but it may be a good idea keep an eye on Theo Walcott's involvement in the game. The Englishman's quickfire brace in this fixture last season took his Premier League tally against Spurs to three goals; against no other side has he scored more. Walcott has not been a regular for his club this season but after impressing in the Capital One Cup against Reading before grabbing a goal against Schalke and two assists against Fulham, he could well hope to start here, particularly given the Gunners' potential problems up front. You can find odds of 2.87 on Walcott to net at any time and could be worth a few quid.
If you are looking for yet longer odds to tickle your fancy, you could turn your attentions to the trend there has been in penalties in recent north London derbies. There have been five penalties in the last five in all competitions, with Spurs having scored from the spot in three of the last four league meetings. Odds of 9.00 on Spurs to do so again provide a very tempting return.
Napoli vs AC Milan - Match Preview
AC Milan are in real trouble in Serie A, and their problems show little sign of abating any time soon, with an extremely tough trip to face Napoli this weekend. The Partenopei have won five out of six on home soil in the league this season, and have only lost once in their last seventeen at the San Paolo. While their record against Milan reads just two wins from their last eighteen meetings, Milan are having a tough time this season, and, in particular, have found it very hard to deal with the recent departures of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. Napoli are favourites with the bookies to take all three points, and rightly so. It is rare to find odds of 1.83 on a team with such good home form to beat the league's 13th placed side, and those odds should be snapped up at the first available opportunity.
Goals have been a feature of both Napoli and Milan's seasons, and with Edinson Cavani back to fitness, and we should be set for more, particularly as the game draws to a close. In spite of their lowly position, only six teams in Serie A have scored more goals than Milan this term, and nearly half (8) of their 18 strikes have come in the last 15 minutes - a joint-high in the league, with Juventus. Further to that, only those two sides lie ahead of Napoli in the late goal stakes, with Mazzarri's side having scored 8 late goals, so betting on a goal after the 76th minute could be well worth a punt (1.83).
Napoli's deadly frontline has failed to find the net in 3 of their 12 league games this season, and, of the 9 games in which they have managed to score, only in their most recent outing have their opponents netted the opening goal. What is more, either Marek Hamsik or Edinson Cavani has opened the scoring each of the 8 times their side has done so. Each player has netted that all important first goal on four occasions this season, and only two players (Stefan Kiessling and Gonzalo Higuiain) have scored more opening goals in Europe's top five leagues this season.
Marek Hamsik has the better odds to do so once again, and given that Cavani has only scored in two of the ten games he has played against Milan, the Slovakian could be a clever bet. He has odds of 7.50 to open the scoring, providing what is potentially a very profitable 'longshot' bet.