Educated Guesswork: Analysis of the North London and Merseyside derbies

Kyle Walker 2

Andi Foster previews Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool v Everton.

With the League Cup out of the way for the time being, and over for the season for some clubs, focus switches back to the Premier League this weekend.

It's been an exciting start to the season, and given the upsets and some of the results that we have already seen so far, there is very little to suggest that trend is likely to change any time soon - especially with two massive local derbies in this weekend's fixtures.

And whilst the Merseyside derby is the longest running top flight derby in England (and the most ill-disciplined since the Premiership began), no Premiership fixture has produced more goals than the North London derby with 126 goals in 44 games (as if derby results weren't hard enough to call anyway).

Heroes can be made in a derby and reputations can be shattered - but who will come out on top this weekend. Let's take a look.

Arsenal are the highest placed team involved on Derby day (4th), but aside from their victory over Aston Villa last weekend they have been far from their fluent best (and in small patches at their worst) for the majority of the season so far.

Their attacking play has them ranked at 5th (at home) in the Premier League scoring an average of 2 goals per game (they rarely left the top 2 last year) but their real issue has come in defence at the Emirates where they are ranked at 12th conceding on average 1.5 goals per game with no clean sheets.

Arsenal have generally had the upper hand in this fixture in the past but on Saturday Tottenham will get chances. The question however is whether they will convert them.

Tottenham are unbeaten away from home so far this season, however they have not yet come up against one of the top 4 on the road - so Arsenal should be a much bigger test for them.

Defensively, Tottenham have the 3rd best defence in the Premier League away from home and have kept a clean sheet (unlike Arsenal's home record), however despite scoring in both of their away games so far this season, Tottenham's away attacking play ranks at 10th and overall they are without a win in their last 3 league games.

Spurs need a victory to kick-start their season and Arsenal need a victory to keep pace with Chelsea. And with neither team on top form, it's going to be a question of desire and probably a game with lots of chances - but few goals.

Meanwhile further north, the Merseyside derby is typically a fiery affair which has recently produced a stack of goals. In recent years at Anfield Liverpool have without question had the upper hand, but with the current form of both sides stuttering, Saturday could potentially be the day that the trend stops.

Everton have not struggled to score so far this season. The goals have been flowing and overall Everton lie 2nd in the Premier League for attacking play scoring on average two goals a game (both at home and away).

Everton's major problem however (not mentioning line-up changes) has been defensively where they are ranked 20th overall. Interestingly however, Everton's away defensive form has them ranked 3rd (their home record is really bad) and they will need to be on that kind of form to keep Liverpool out on Saturday (especially if Sturridge returns).

Liverpool meanwhile have been a Jekyll and Hyde side so far this season with a good away victory over Spurs preceding losses to West Ham and Aston Villa. At home, Liverpool stand with the 3rd best defence so far this season. However in attacking play, Liverpool have struggled as they currently sit at 14th when compared to the other Premiership clubs scoring an average of a goal a game.

Rodgers himself has said that Liverpool have been left a “little bit broken” by the departure of Suarez, but with Suarez gone, Liverpool haven’t just lost goals they have also lost a player that links play and creates for others.

Liverpool need to learn how to play without him and it is going to take a while for them to properly adapt (especially with so many new players needing to be integrated). Liverpool will bounce back, but any victory on Saturday will be powered by derby feelings and moments of individualism.

Liverpool have a better squad overall than last season, but it is going to be a while yet before the squad properly clicks together and this new version of Liverpool football club is really seen. When that happens though……

Predictions

Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1

(Welbeck to score)

Liverpool 2 Everton 2

(More than 2.5 goals is a good bet. As is a red card.)

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