Thursday, October 29, 2009

EPL Handicapping: Gunners over Spurs

By El Chupacabra
Gunners over Spurs (8:30 EDT on ESPN2). Do it. Here's why.

The odds aren't great, but we think talk of Spurs going into Emirates and earning the draw, let alone the win, is mistaken. Here's the key: Spurs' defense is far weaker. They allow far more Shots, Shots on Goal, and Corners Against than do the Gunners. Yes, the Spurs score goals, but they've scored far fewer than Wenger's XI. And in our measure of Quality Chances Created, the Gunners are far superior. For example, Arsenal scores a goal 40% of the time when they create a SOG compared to the Spurs' 31% (the league average is 28%). And the Gunners lead Spurs in Goals per game, 3.22 to 2.10. They've both allowed the same number of Goals Against per Game, which may speak to the Gunners' goalkeeping woes. Regardless, the rest of the numbers reveal how loose Spurs is at the back. Overall, we consider Arsenal to be a better side by far and the cream of the EPL at this moment (along with Chelsea). We're thinking Gunners 3 Spurs 1.

OUR PREDICTION: Arsenal to Win.

LINE: Arsenal -180 Spurs +500 Draw +275

LUCHAMETRIC: Advantage: Arsenal -
The Gunners have an advantage of 1.2 Stand Devs in the LM measure of production per game. We consider 1.0 StdDevs as indicating a significant competitive difference between any two teams. Further, in the raw metric measuring production per game Arsenal are nearly twice as good as Spurs. And our measure of Quality Scoring Chances has them nearly three StandDevs over Tottenham. Look for Arsenal to light Spurs up at home on Saturday.

RECENT TRAVEL: Draw - Both teams played at home midweek in the Carling Cup. And this is a North London Derby, so both teams will be rested and won't have to travel. But Arsenal is at home and will still have a slight-to-significant advantage.

MOTIVATION Draw: This is a Derby and both teams will be up for the game. Spurs want to prove they are a top four team. But Keane has run his mouth off, and I suspect the home fans at Emirates will let him know it, the twit.

RECENT FORM: Advantage: Arsenal. The Gunners have earned thirteen points in their last six matches, Spurs a mere 7. And Arsenal just beat Liverpool. Keane is going to eat his words.

INJURIES: Advantage: Spurs - Arsenal just got their starting keeper back--and just lost him for three more weeks. Almunia has been in Wenger's dog house but might get the chance to regain his manager's confidence on Saturday, given that Mannone made a rather egregious error against West Ham last Sunday, leading to a goal that started the Hammers' comeback, which resulted in Arsenal blowing a two-goal lead and letting a sure three points slip away.

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