Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal will be fighting for a spot in the top six as they lock horns on Matchday 35 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The second North London Derby of the season is upon us as Tottenham Hotspur get ready to host their arch-rivals Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in gameweek 35. It will also be the first North London Derby for both managers – Jose Mourinho and Mikel Arteta.
The start of the season was not kind on Spurs, who lost four games and drew five in the first 12 fixtures in the Premier League. They were also hit for seven in the UEFA Champions League against Bayern, at their home ground. Mauricio Pochettino was sacked after the London outfit drew against Sheffield United, and Mourinho was announced as the replacement hours later.
It would be far-fetched to say Tottenham have been brilliant under new management, but there have been faint signs of improvement. They are currently 10th in the table, five points off of sixth-placed Sheffield United. A win for them would take them to 7th in only one leap. Their last game came against AFC Bournemouth who held them to a goalless draw.
Arsenal’s season resembles their worst enemy’s quite closely. Unai Emery was relieved of his duties a week after Pochettino was with club legend Freddie Ljungberg taking his spot as an interim before Arteta was announced as the new manager. The Spaniard took responsibility of the team when they were 11th, and has taken them to 8th, four points behind Sheffield United in sixth.
The Gunners travel to the other side of London on the back of a 1-1 draw with Leicester City. The first NLD of the season ended in a 2-2 draw as Arsenal came back from a two-goal deficit courtesy goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane had given Tottenham the lead.
Ahead of what will be the first-ever North London Derby at the Totteham Hotspur Stadium, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
There are no fresh injury concerns for Jose Mourinho to deal with, but he will be without three defenders, namely Japhet Tanganga, Juan Foyth and Eric Dier, who is unavailable after the FA imposed a four-game ban on him for jumping into the stands and confronting a fan in their FA Cup defeat to Norwich City. Dele Alli misses out again with a hamstring issue.
Davinson Sanchez is expected to replace Jan Vertonghen while Toby Alderweireld should partner him at the heart of the defence. The full-backs will be unchanged, though, as Ben Davies and Serge Aurier provide the width from the back. Ryan Sessegnon is in contention for a participation certifciate for this game, but there is little to no chance that he starts. Hugo Lloris will start in goal.
Harry Winks will retain his spot as the deepest midfielder after putting in impressive performances in that role. He will be arched by Giovanni Lo Celso on the right and Moussa Sissoko on the left. Lo Celso is expected to aid the creative aspects of the midfield while Sissoko brings the grit.
Lucas Moura will retain his spot in the front-three but Steven Bergwijn will be replaced by Heung-Min Son who will take charge of the left-wing. Harry Kane will start as the sole striker in this 4-3-3. However, his recent performances player-map place him more as a defensive midfielder than a striker. The Englishman will have to push very high if he wants to get back to goal-scoring ways.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Lo Celso, Winks, Sissoko; Moura, Kane, Son
Mikel Arteta will have to cater to a vast list of missing players ahead of the derby. Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli and Mesut Ozil will miss the game because of injury. At the same time, Eddie Nketiah is suspended after picking up a red card against Leicester City.
Emiliano Martinez will continue in goal in the absence of Leno. The Argentine has kept three clean sheets in the five games he has played so far, and it would be huge for him if he comes up clutch against Tottenham Hotspur. A three-man backline of Sead Kolasinac, David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi will shield Martinez.
Kieren Tierney and Hector Bellerin will continue as the wing-backs, flanking the double pivot of Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos. Arsenal’s midfield has had the most shares of their plaudits recently after they shifted to the 3-4-3. Ceballos will have more license to roam ahead and add creativity from the final third while Xhaka drops deep to cover.
Alexandre Lacazette will lead the frontline and will look for his ninth goal of a very underwhelming season. He will be aided by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left and Bukayo Saka on the right. Nicolas Pepe is contention to start as well, but after Saka’s stellar performance in midweek, it is unlikely that Arsenal’s club-record signing gets the nod ahead of him.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Martinez; Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney; Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang
- Of 55 North London Derbies in the Premier League era, Arsenal have won 20 and Spurs have won just 12. 23 have been draws.
- Harry Kane is the all-time top scorer in the North London Derbies with ten goals.
- Arsenal have won two of the last five NLDs, and Spurs have won just once. The previous two have been draws.
- Tottenham are undefeated in their last five home games against Arsenal, winning thrice.
- Jose Mourinho has lost just two of the 20 games he has managed against Arsenal in his career, both losses coming as manager of Manchester United.
Player to watch
The young Englishman has scored just one goal this season in the Premier League but has created several goal-scoring chances which has taken his assist tally to five for 2019/20.
Initially, Bukayo Saka had not been utilised much in his preferred left-wing slot but had to fill in as a left-back after injuries to Kieren Tierney and Sead Kolasinac. However, after proving his quality on the left, he has been transitioned into a right-winger where he has more charge of taking a go at goal.
Saka has been Arsenal’s rising star this season, and he has continued to deliver in the post-lockdown phase. He was their best player against Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and there is no reason for him not to continue his string of stellar form. He will be placed head-to-head with a weak Tottenham defence, and there is no reason to think that he will not terrorise them.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Arsenal
North London Derbies are very entertaining one way or the other. Either we see the players continue to create chances and score a handful of goals, or we see them settle out things with brawls. And with Jose Mourinho on the touchline against Arsenal, we can expect tomorrow to be no different; in fact, it could get better.
Tottenham’s cohesiveness has become increasingly worrying in the Mourinho era which has seen them losing against Sheffield United, dropping out of the Champions League, FA Cup, and a four-match losing streak in February and March among several other things.
Arsenal are in spectacular form since Arteta made a crucial shift in their formation. They have gone undefeated for five games in all competitions, taking points off Leicester City and Wolves along the way. As a result, The Hard Tackle expects the Gunners to continue on their merry ways and heap further misery on Mourinho & co. this Sunday.