Our writer previews the mouth-watering North London derby between fierce rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.
Arsenal and Tottenham lock horns this weekend in what is arguably London’s biggest footballing rivalry. In the league last season, the Gunners pipped Spurs on the final day to finish second behind Leicester City, adding more banter to the rivalry. Arsenal fans even celebrate St. Totteringham's day, which is the day in the season when Spurs cannot mathematically finish above Arsenal on the league table.
This season, though, the Lilywhites are the only undefeated team in the Premier League and have been formidable from the start. The Gunners suffered an opening day defeat to Liverpool, but have gone on a nine-game unbeaten run in the Premier League since then and now lead the way, alongside Manchester City and Liverpool. Theo Walcott and Harry Kane are the highest goalscorers in the North London derby from the current squad, both with four goals each to their name. The duo are both deemed as a doubt by their respective managers, but will be itching to get back to full fitness in time for the clash. This promises to be a spectacular matchup, with both teams in full throttle this season.
English Premier League | Sunday 6 November | Emirates Stadium | 14:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Arsenal 1/1 | Draw 51/20 | Tottenham 26/10
It may be Tottenham with the bird on their crest, but Arsenal are flying high this season. Arsene Wenger’s side have been in scintillating form this campaign. It could be the start of something new, or it could just be the same old Arsenal, lifting the expectations for themselves and giving the fans hope of what looks very likely until the month of May every year.
However, the Gunners look like a different team that have dominated in the past. Since the arrival of Skhodran Mustafi in particular, Wenger’s side are yet to taste defeat in all competitions – at the time of writing. The new signings along with the youth players showing maturity, has made Arsenal unstoppable at times.
Arsenal are the most in-form team in Europe at the moment, going 14 games undefeated at the time of writing. As much as Wenger is to thank for their incredible form, it’s the players that make the difference on the pitch.
Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny have been rock-solid, forming one of the best centre-back partnerships in Europe. Granit Xhaka served up his suspension and is available for selection this weekend. As class of a player he has been so far for the Gunners, he still has to compete with the likes of Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey.
Further forward, Wenger has plenty of players to choose from. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are the first names on the team sheet, leaving the likes of Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud all fighting for a starting berth. Giroud scored from his first two touches last weekend, proving that the Gunners have quality in depth this season.
The Gunners have not conceded in three home matches in all competitions and will face one of their toughest battles yet at the Emirates Stadium.
Tottenham come into this game as the only undefeated team left in the Premier League. As great as that sounds, Spurs still find themselves out of the top four and only in the UEFA Europa League places.
Spurs got their season off to a flying start, knocking all the big teams off their porch, being the first and only team to beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the league. That form has somewhat dropped in recent weeks, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side winless in five matches in all competitions at the time of writing. In the Premier League, Spurs have drawn three consecutive matches in what was all considered to be winnable games for the London side.
Much of Spurs’ slump in form this season has been pointed at Harry Kane, who got injured a while back, but could make the return this weekend. Vincent Janssen failed to live up to his potential in the absence of Kane, scoring just once in the league – a penalty against Leicester City.
One player who looks set to miss out is Belgian centre-back, Toby Alderweireld. Eric Dier has been given the role to fill his boots, alongside Jan Vertonghen. Further up the park, Mousa Dembele has formed a decent partnership with Victor Wanyama, breaking up the play and turning defence into attack.
The three behind the striker will most likely be Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son, with Erik Lamela being a doubt for the clash. If anyone has filled Kane’s scoring boots, it’s been Son. The South Korean has found the back of the net four times and will be looking for his first North London derby goal.
Verdict: Arsenal (1/1)
Arsenal are just a class above this season and have had the upper hand against Spurs at the Emirates stadium in recent seasons. The Gunners are undefeated against their local rivals at home in five meetings.
Spurs come into this game off the back of three consecutive draws in the league, while the Arsenal have not conceded in three matches at the Emirates Stadium. With home advantage, Wenger’s side are tipped to claim maximum points and inflict Spurs’ first defeat of the campaign.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets