The North London Derby has always been one of the most exciting matches of the year. These teams have been showing top performance during the last years and their games attract a lot of attention. As regards the current season, fans’ expectations from these teams ahead of the season’s start have been quite different, as Tottenham are currently believed to have a younger and faster team compared to Arsenal while it is hard for the world football to expect a new start from the Gunners’ long-term manager Arsene Wenger. And the season starts have gone the way fans expected… but is the picture the same by the 12th week into the competition?
It is very hard to account for the teams’ current form after the international break, as usually the club football suffers a bit after their players train elsewhere with their national team partners. However, going through the last games played in all competitions is useful while forming expectations ahead of the game. Arsenal seemed to revive hope in their fans winning four EPL clashes in a row, after the pitiful loss against Watford (2-1). The winning streak also included the confident victory against Everton (5-2). However, after those victorious games the team failed to win the home match against Crvena Zvezda (0-0) in Europa League causing disappointment in their fans. After that they took a loss from current Premier League favorites and the table first position occupiers Manchester City (3-1). Frankly speaking, not many teams in EPL can be proud of their clashes against the Citizens, as the Guardiola side are in an outstanding form. Arsenal clash, by the way, was full of controversial referee decisions and the Gunners fans believe their team was capable of showing a better result. To conclude about Arsenal form, they were obviously not ready to compete against City, but that does not mean they are in a bad form, there is a chance that the opponent was just too strong.
Tottenham have shown an outstanding game against Real Madrid (3-1) in Champions League and also have been showing a good form in EPL with only one loss in last nin games. The one loss, however, is against Manchester United (1-0) and the nine games mentioned count up to the home loss against Chelsea (1-2). Mauricio Pochettino side seem to have issues performing against the big teams. The mediocre team victories ensured them the third place in the league table currently, however performing in a bad manner against big teams will surely be a problem for the Spurs in case they are aiming for the highest honors for the current season. If Pochettino and his team are willing to break the curse against big EPL teams, they need to start it today, against Arsenal.
Clashes The last time Arsenal won against Tottenham in English Premier League, was back in 2014 an away clash. Last time they lost a head-to-head game at home, however, was even earlier, in year 2010. Surprising, isn’t it? The idea behind this is that Tottenham have been performing well at home (The very last game between these teams took place earlier this year and turned out to be a confident Tottenham home win (2-0)), however, the most common score for their head-to-head matches at Emirates Stadium has been the 1-1. Three last games on Arsenal pitch has shown this exact score.
Arsenal will be kicking off without the injured Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, the latter picking up a thigh injury performing for France national team during the international break. Alex Iwobi and Danni Welbeck are still doubtful for the North London derby, and are not likely to be in the start. Laurent Koscielny, in turn, seems to have recovered from the Achilles concerns and is ready to start against Tottenham.
Tottenham will be missing Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld. All the other injury concerns seem to be cleared up ahead of the Arsenal clash, as Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli, Erik Lamela, Michael Vorm and Harry Winks are reported to have trained with the team during the very last training session before the game. They are ready to feature in the North London derby.
Arsenal – Manager: Arsene Wenger (3-4-2-1)
Cech-Koscielny-Mertesacker-Monreal; Bellerin-Ramsey-Xhaka-Kolasinac; Ozil-Sanchez; Lacazette
Tottenham – Manager: Mauricio Pochettino (3-5-2)
Lloris; Sanchez-Dier-Vertonghen; Trippier-Eriksen-Dembele-Alli-Davies; Kane-Heung-Min
Looking back at the history of the games between these teams, the most probable outcome for the current match is a draw 1-1. However, exhibiting current forms of the teams ahead of the match gives an overall feeling that Mauricio Pochettino’s team are currently more ready to handle the pressure. Moreover, if we take a closer look at the players individually and teams tactically, it seems that Tottenham attacks are faster, due to the exceptional midfield and wings they have currently. Though Arsenal are expected to show harsh competition, I would still suggest that the Spurs are more likely to break the unfortunate series at Arsenal home stadium, basing my decision on the current squad and possible tactical alterations.