Caulker strike on the cards

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: March 3 2013, 15:56 GMT

With fourth place and a Champions League spot very much up for grabs, Sunday's North London derby is, as ever, one of the most anticipated games of the season.

Caulker: Interesting bet to grab a goal
Caulker: Interesting bet to grab a goal

Spurs are on a tremendous run with the talismanic Gareth Bale wreaking havoc and nothing would give the Gunners greater pleasure than throwing a spanner in the works.

Our David John picks out his best bets from a mouthwatering clash.

Tottenham v Arsenal (1600 GMT)

Spurs are the most-talked about team in the Premier League at the moment and it will be fascinating to see how far the form of Gareth Bale will take them between now and the end of the season.

Tottenham possess quality all over the field but it is clearly Bale who is taking a fair chunk of attention when opposition sides come to game-planning.

At the moment it is near impossible to combat him. His winner against West Ham saw him upended following a hefty challenge and seemingly out of the game but 10 seconds later the ball was in the top corner of the net from 25 yards.

The Welshman will surely be pivotal again as Andre Villas-Boas gives him the option to take up a more central role during a game and the momentum he is creating will surely never give the hosts a better chance to not only win this game but also finisher higher up the table than their fiercest rivals.

Whether it is Bale or the increasing influence of Villas-Boas, Spurs' victory over West Ham highlighted a much greater belief in themselves.

That was a game they would not have won last season - or even in the first part of this one - and sets them up beautifully to perhaps stretch seven points clear of the Gunners in the chase for the Champions League.

But before we get swept away and lump on Spurs at a best price of 7/5, just remember that Arsenal have won the last two north London derbies 5-2 and have lost just five times to their rivals in 39 encounters under Arsene Wenger.

Despite high-profile domestic Cup exits and an iffy first leg in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Arsenal's current league form over the past six games has been bettered only by Manchester United.

They have notched four wins, a draw and a loss although it was all a bit of a scramble to beat lowly Aston Villa 2-1 at the Emirates last weekend.

Some of the pressure on Wenger will surely lift if he can deliver three points but a defence that is struggling to cope with the basic fundamentals is going to be under intense pressure at White Hart Lane.

Plenty of punters will be returning to the Bale cash machine at 5/1 for first goalscorer and 7/5 anytime but an interesting option could be central defender Steven Caulker at 13/1 with Paddy Power to score at some stage.

He could have taken full advantage of Bale's delivery on more than one occasion at Upton Park and it was only the athleticism of Jussi Jaaskelainen that thwarted him.

He looks to have every chance to add to his tally of three goals this season as I really don't think that Per Mertesacker and co will be looking forward to dealing with the 6ft 3in, 21-year-old at set-pieces.

It follows then that another bet I am interested in is over 3.5 goals at 7/4 with William Hill. Defences have been breached on 39 occasions in the last eight meetings and current form says there will be more of the same.

Verdict: Tottenham 3 Arsenal 1

  • The match is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.

  • Preview posted at 1515GMT on 28/02/2013.