Henry Winter claimed in the Times that three years of bragging rights must be claimed before a power shift can be said to have occurred. It’s been more than three years since Arsenal last won the North London Derby on their own turf in the Premier League.
Do wins in both domestic cups count? No Arsenal fan ever thought they would be grateful to Mathieu Flamini for his winning goals in a Capital One Cup tie.
There’s no doubt that Tottenham are ruling the roost at the moment yet question marks hang over the squad. They have yet to win a trophy under Mauricio Pochettino and until they do so, they remain just a good Tottenham side.
Defeat at the Etihad before the international break was no surprise for Arsenal, but the performance of referee Michael Oliver received strong criticism from Arsene Wenger. Mike Dean’s appointment ought to fill him with some hope; the Gunners haven’t lost a home league match he officiated since November 2014.
The 3 – 1 reverse against Manchester City was a fair reflection of the game, even if controversy surrounded the two decisive goals. Arsenal chased shadows for much of the ninety minutes but doggedly remained in the match until Nacho Monreal was adjudged to have fouled Raheem Sterling.
Eyebrows were raised however, with the omission of Alexandre Lacazette, with supporters baffled why the £52m striker was left on the bench. Even more so when his clinical finish brought the Gunners level.
At the other end of the pitch, questions remain over Petr Cech despite good performances in the past two away games. At both Everton and City, the veteran kept Arsenal in the match with key saves. Despite this, there are signs of age catching up with him. Lapses in concentration which are largely unpunished at present, are becoming a regular feature of his season.
Wenger’s major injury concern is Laurent Koscielny. Before the trip to Manchester City, the Arsenal boss hoped Shkodran Mustafi would return. With the French international’s chronic Achilles tendon problem flaring up the international break, the German may be pressed back into action sooner than expected.
Olivier Giroud picked up a thigh strain, leaving the Gunners light on the bench if the injury keeps him out of the squad. Wenger may be more concerned with having him fit for the tip to Cologne later in the week. Danny Welbeck’s return to full fitness has proven timely in that sense.
Aaron Ramsey was rested by Chris Coleman for Wales defeat against France – Lacazette scored a brace for Les Bleus – but declared this was planned and he fully expects the midfielder to be fit for this match.
After defeat at Old Trafford, Spurs responded with a win over Crystal Palace to pull them level with Manchester United in second place.
Once again, Tottenham find themselves firmly ensconced in the top four with their feet firmly under Europe’s top table. The stigma of playing their home games at Wembley is a distant memory, with the regularity of playing there in the Premier League lifting the weight off their Champions League shoulders.
The 3 – 1 victory over Real Madrid was rightly praised; efficient counter-attacking backed with strong defending. To win this fixture, they need more of the same.
The two sides both operate a back three system. Whereas Arsenal use 3-4-2-1, Pochettino has his team set in a more orthodox 3-5-2. It suits Alli to sit deeper and arrive late in the box in a style similar to David Platt or Frank Lampard.
The freedom afforded Alli and Christian Eriksen is key to Tottenham’s success, providing a creativity without weakening their defensive structure. Pochettino has drilled his side well and they have a strong work ethic, reflected in Tottenham conceding fewest goals in the last two Premier League seasons.
In season’s past, losing a player of Toby Alderweireld’s calibre would derail Tottenham’s season but their defensive star is Davinson Sanchez, the club’s record signing. The Colombian is the sort of player Arsenal used to snaffle, but has earned every penny of his £42m fee so far.
Up front, Harry Kane’s scoring record against Arsenal is formidable. Six in total, he found the net in the last five meetings between the two sides. If he scores on Saturday, Kane becomes the first player to score in six consecutive Premier League matches against Arsenal during Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Injuries suffered by Kane, Harry Winks and Dele Alli were enough to keep them out of England’s two fixtures against Germany and Brazil but Pochettino is hopeful all three will be fit for the North London Derby.
FORM (Last six Premier League games)
Arsenal - WWLWWL
Tottenham Hotspur - WWWWLW
- With five goals or more on Saturday, the north London derby will become highest scoring Premier League fixture in history.
- Tottenham have won just 1 of their last 16 away games against a top six side in the Premier League.
- Petr Cech has yet to save a penalty for Arsenal with all 13 he has faced, scoring.
- Tottenham have won just 1 of their last 25 visits to Arsenal.
- Arsenal have scored 2+ goals in their last 8 home games.
CURRENT MATCH ODDS (BEST PRICED ODDS)
HEAD TO HEAD
|Last six meetings|
Arsenal are far from their best this season but despite that, are clinging onto the coat-tails of the top four. Arsene Wenger knows that his aspirations for a Champions League place next season will be badly damaged by defeat in the North London Derby.
Spurs meanwhile, feel they are overdue a win at the Emirates. The Gareth Bale inspired 3 – 2 victory in 2010 was their only joy in this fixture since 1993. They may never be presented with a better chance.
Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester City damaged confidence but left them frustrated at officialdom. In years gone by, those were the grounds for a siege mentality, but Wenger is not great an inspiring that thinking in his troops.
While Spurs have the edge going into the game, this is a derby and the form book goes out of the window. Fans are already building up to the game and that atmosphere is sure to spill over into Saturday.
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Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (12:00 15th November 2017) and are subject to change.