Arsenal vs Tottenham | Sunday 01 September | Emirates Stadium | 17:00
One of the biggest derbies in English football will take place this weekend as London rivals Arsenal take on Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium. Despite it being the early part of the 2013/2014 Barclays Premiership season, both clubs will be out to make an early statement. Their rivalry has certainly intensified in recent years, as the Gunners have been in freefall for quite some time and have gone seven seasons without a trophy, whilst Spurs have acquitted themselves well as top four hopefuls and made the quarter-finals of the 2010/11 Champions League. In fact, both clubs were only separated by a single point at the end of last season, in favour of Wenger’s men who claimed the fourth and all important Champions League spot with a final day victory over Newcastle.
While Spurs have been able to close the gap between them and the Gunners, the red side of North London can still rightly boast a healthy edge, given the fact that they have finished above their rivals for so many seasons. Spurs may be on the verge of losing their ‘shining light’, Gareth Bale, but Villas-Boas has been busy in the market and has acquired some very useful players, most notably ex-Valencia striker, Roberto Soldado. On the flip side, Wenger hasn’t been successful during the transfer window in his pursuit of Luis Suarez, but his side has shown real promising signs over the past week.
To Win (90mins)
After a poor opening day loss to Aston Villa at home, and being booed off by their own supporters, the Gunners turned things around with convincing back-to-back wins within the space of four days. First, playing away to tricky Turkish side Fenerbahce in the Champions League 1st leg qualifying stage, the Londoners triumphed emphatically 3-0, courtesy of goals from Giroud, Ramsey and Gibbs. Then Wenger’s men faced another potential banana skin in the form of fellow London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage, but produced a promising display in the rain and ran out 3-1 victors. Lukas Podolski grabbed a goal in each half as Arsenal were sharper early on and led through Olivier Giroud's strike. Substitute Darren Bent pulled one back, from close range, for the home team, but Arsenal were full value for the win. The Gunners will need to make a few big name signings before the transfer window closes if they are to seriously contend for the Premier League title. The concern for Wenger is that they have conceded four goals in two Premier League matches, but their defence will be bolstered by the return from suspension of Laurent Koscielny, after he was sent off in his team’s 3-1 opening day loss.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have claimed back-to-back 1-0 victories over Crystal Palace and Swansea and along with Liverpool are the only two remaining teams with 100% records in the league. They are yet to score a goal from open play though, as both wins were secured by convincing Soldado penalties. That said, Spurs have been solid at the back but this will certainly be their acid test and they will need to raise their game.
VERDICT: Arsenal 1/1
Arsenal versus Tottenham has become one of the most high scoring fixtures in the league and this game should be no different. The Gunners have dominated this fixture at home in recent seasons and are tipped to get the bragging rights once again.