Arsenal play hosts to Tottenham Hotspur in the first North London Derby of this season as both sides look to gain momentum in the Premier League season ahead.
It’s only matchday-4, and the North London Derby is already here to add to the thrilling start to the current Premier League season. Arsenal have the momentum going into this game having picked up 6 points out of a possible 9. After two wins in their opening two games, the Gunners succumbed to their first defeat last weekend to Liverpool at Anfield.
Unai Emery will be hopeful of the team repeating last season’s performance at the Emirates in the same fixture as Arsenal beat Tottenham 4-2 in what was a dramatic encounter. Emery is still trying to find ways to get the best out of his new-look squad, although so far the performances from the new boys have been positively received. The manager will be hoping his side break open their chains and put in a remarkable display.
Tottenham, on the other hand, are reeling from a mixed bag start to their season. Spurs opened their campaign with a dramatic 3-1 win over Aston Villa. They did follow up that win with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Manchester City but went on to lose their third game to Newcastle last weekend at their home ground. That loss indeed asks questions about Mauricio Pochettino and his team.
In recent seasons, Tottenham under the leadership of Pochettino have performed better than their North London rivals, and the Argentine will be hoping to better that trend tomorrow. Despite it only still being early in the season, the importance of this NLD cannot be questioned for both teams. Both will hope to build momentum heading into the international break.
Team News & Tactics
Emery’s tactics for the Liverpool game came into intense questioning. However, some quarters did praise the positive outlook those tactics had on the game. In the end, the game was decided by a confident Mohamed Salah who found Arsenal’s defensive weakness in new signing David Luiz and scored a brace. Luiz, however, is likely to keep his place as the next best available option is Calum Chambers.
Emery still has multiple defensive injuries to contend with for this NLD, with Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and new signing Kieran Tierney all still ruled out. Holding is expected to be fit after the international break, while the full-backs are likely to join first-team training soon. That leaves Emery will Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac as his recognised full-back options, following Nacho Monreal’s departure.
However, the biggest problem for Emery lies in midfield and attack, as he has a selection headache ahead due to the number of stars aiming to get into the starting lineup.
Lucas Torreira, who scored Arsenal’s only goal from the bench against Liverpool is expected to come into the starting lineup in place of Granit Xhaka who underperformed at Anfield. Dani Ceballos is still likely to keep his place, as Emery looks to revert to a midfield three, with Joe Willock expected to start from the bench. Matteo Guendouzi is likely to keep his place in the side.
The attack is where Emery needs to make a swift decision as fans have been calling for new signing Nicolas Pepe to play alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman has been nursing an ankle problem, but is understood to be fit. We will likely see the trio start together for the first time this season.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Torreira, Ceballos; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Pochettino has plenty of problems to deal with ahead of the North London Derby. Injuries to some of his key players will force the Argentine manager’s hand in changing the shape of his team for the Arsenal game. Kyle Walker-Peters’ untimely hamstring injury will likely force the manager to set up a back-three with Jan Vertonghen coming back to the side.
With Juan Foyth also injured, Moussa Sissoko could be forced to play as a right wing-back. However, midfield woes could force Pochettino’s hand in recalling Serge Aurier back to the side. New signing Tanguy Ndombele who missed the Newcastle game will also miss the NLD after he failed to recover from his hamstring problem. Harry Winks, however, is expected to start.
Dele Alli is closing in on being match-fit, although it will be surprising if the England attacker is thrown in the mix from the start. Heung-min Son returned last weekend, and he certainly provides a boost to Pochettino and Tottenham’s attack. Christian Eriksen, whose future is still surrounded by speculation, could play from the start this weekend, while Lucas Moura is still expected to impact from the bench.
Harry Kane and Erik Lamela are expected to start after their decent start to the season so far. However, with Son also in the side, Pochettino could change the shape of his team’s attack to accommodate the South Korean and it could come at the expense of Lamela.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Aurier, Sissoko, Winks, Rose; Eriksen; Son, Kane
- Arsenal have won just two of their last 10 Premier League games against rivals Spurs (W2 D5 L3).
- Spurs have won one of their previous 26 Premier League visits to Arsenal (W1 D10 L15), coming from 0-2 down to win 3-2 in November 2010.
- Arsenal were beaten by Crystal Palace in their last home Premier League London derby – they haven’t lost back to back home derbies since February 2006.
- Arsenal have won more Premier League games (60) and have a higher win rate (61%) than any other side in games played in September.
- Tottenham’s Harry Kane has scored nine goals in all competitions against Arsenal – only Emmanuel Adebayor and Bobby Smith (both 10) have ever scored more in matches between the two sides in history.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.57
2. Harry Kane to score anytime @ 2.05
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 3.60
Player to Watch
As Arsenal succumbed to yet another defeat at Anfield against Liverpool, one player stood tall with his performance. Nicolas Pepe had a hugely impressive full-debut as he ripped into the Liverpool defence. In addition to breaking Virgil Van Dijk’s impressive 50 game run of not getting dribbled past, the Ivorian racked up seven dribbles, more than any other players as well as a few shots on target.
Pepe is expected to start again against Tottenham, and all eyes will be on him to see if he can dislodge Spurs’ backline. The winger has the pace to burn and has an eye for goal, something that became clear in the last game. The record signing has a perfect platform to deliver and firmly establish among the fans as well as Unai Emery’s plans for the rest of the season.
Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham
The North London derby, from its one-way traffic style from a few years back, is slowly turning into a goals gala in recent times. This fixture last season produced six goals as Arsenal triumphed, and this time too the story looks to be going the Gunners’ way. Arsenal’s front three, if they start will surely be too much for Tottenham’s defence to handle.
Both sides have their injury problems, but it is Tottenham’s that could affect them more than Arsenal’s. Spurs have an unhappy attacker, an injured key midfielder and are likely to go with a injury-riddled backline, all of which favours Arsenal to snatch all three points. Expect the Gunners to win at the Emirates and heap more pressure on Pochettino and Tottenham.