Tottenham Hotspur will be aiming to strengthen their hold at the top of the Premier League table when they take on local rivals Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to continue their unbeaten run in the Premier League when they lock horns with arch-rivals Arsenal in the first North London Derby of the 2020/21 season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend.
Tottenham, after the opening day defeat to Everton, are nine games unbeaten in the league, rising to the top of the standings with 21 points from 10 games. With Liverpool and Chelsea breathing down their necks, Jose Mourinho’s men, who head into the weekend clash on the back of a 3-3 draw against LASK in the UEFA Europa League, will be intent on strengthening their grip at the top.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have endured a difficult start to the campaign and find themselves 14th in the standings, having managed just 13 points from 10 games and are closer to the drop zone than to their rivals in pole position. The Gunners are without a win in their last three Premier League games although come into Sunday’s fixture after defeating Rapid Wien 4-0 in Europe.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Tottenham come back from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 as Son Heung-min cancelled out Alexandre Lacazette’s goal before Toby Alderweireld scored a late winner. And ahead of their latest encounter, which will see 2,000 fans returning to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Star striker Harry Kane missed the midweek tie against LASK due to an injury issue, as did Toby Alderweireld along with summer signings Sergio Reguilon and Carlos Vinicius. However, Jose Mourinho expects the quartet to be available for the derby, although a late call will be taken on Alderweireld’s involvement in the contest.
But, there are question marks over the involvement of captain and first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after the Frenchman did not travel to Austria for the LASK clash. In case the seasoned campaigner is unavailable, Joe Hart could be in line to make his Premier League debut for Tottenham, in spite of a poor display in midweek.
Serge Aurier should return in the right-back slot, replacing summer signing Matt Doherty while Reguilon ought to slot in on the left. Joe Rodon, who impressed on his full debut against Chelsea last weekend, should continue alongside Eric Dier at the heart of the Spurs’ defence, with Alderweireld likely to be eased back into action.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has made a huge difference for Tottenham since his arrival from Southampton in the summer. He is a certain starter in the midfield double pivot, alongside Moussa Sissoko, who brings a lot of value with his ability to drop back and cover for the likes of Aurier and Rodon.
Tanguy Ndombele has become a certain starter this season and should feature as the No. 10, flanked by the dynamic duo of Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min. Spearheading the attack for Tottenham will be the fit-again Kane, who will time and again drop deep to get on the ball and set the wingers through with his playmaking abilities coming to the fore this term.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hart; Aurier, Rodon, Dier, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Son, Ndombele, Bergwijn; Kane
Mikel Arteta will be sweating over the fitness of summer signing Thomas Partey, who has missed the last few games due to a thigh injury. While the Ghanaian is closing in a return, the derby might come a little too soon for him. David Luiz, on the other hand, is expected to be fit after suffering a facial injury following his nasty collision with Raul Jimenez last weekend.
Gabriel Martinelli remains unavailable for the visitors on Sunday while fellow forward Nicolas Pepe is suspended for the contest after being sent off against Leeds United a fortnight ago. There will be changes made to the side that took the field against Rapid Wien in Europe, with the Gunners likely to mirror Tottenham’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
Bernd Leno ought to return in goal after being rested in midweek, while the entire backline will bear a new look with Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney coming into the starting XI after not featuring on Thursday night.
Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka ought to be the two central midfielders shielding the Arsenal defence, with Alexandre Lacazette likely to reprise the No. 10 role after impressing in the position in midweek. The Frenchman ought to be flanked by Willian and Bukayo Saka on the right and left sides, respectively.
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should return to spearhead the attack against Tottenham and the Gabonese forward will be itching to bring an end to his torrid run in front of goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Willian, Lacazette, Saka; Aubameyang
- Tottenham to win @ 1.95
- Tottenham to WIN to NIL @ 3.50
- Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home games against Arsenal (W4 D2), since a 1-0 loss in March 2014. It is their longest unbeaten home league run against the Gunners since a run of nine between January 1960 and January 1968.
- Arsenal have only lost back-to-back Premier League games against Tottenham twice – in May 1993 and November 2010.
- Tottenham have dropped 42 points from winning positions in Premier League games against Arsenal, more than any side has lost against another in the competition’s history.
- This will be the lowest in the table Arsenal have been going into a North London Derby since August 1993, when they sat 21st after just one game before a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane.
- Tottenham are on the longest current unbeaten run in the Premier League (9 – W6 D3). In contrast, Arsenal are on the second-longest run without a win in the competition (3 – D1 L2), with only Sheffield United (13) worse off than the Gunners.
Player to Watch
The England captain has been the driving force behind Tottenham’s rise to the pinnacle of the Premier League table this season, with seven goals and nine assists in ten outings so far. So, naturally, the fans will be sweating over his availability for the game after he missed the midweek contest against LASK due to an injury.
Mourinho, though, is positive that Kane should be available for the game and if he is, expect him to make a telling impact. Kane, till date, has scored 10 goals in a competitive setting against Arsenal and is tied with Bobby Smith and Emmanuel Adebayor as the highest scorer in these clashes across all competitions.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Arsenal
Tottenham are unbeaten in nine matches in the league and boast the best defensive record, having let in just nine goals so far while they are the team with second-most goals scored (21) behind Liverpool and Chelsea (both 22).
In contrast, Arsenal are without a win in their last three in the Premier League. The Gunners have netted just 10 times in the competition and have generally struggled in the final third with a lack of creativity. So, going up against the best defence in the league means things will hardly get any easier for Mikel Arteta & co.
Throw in the fact that Mourinho has never lost a home league game against Arsenal at any of his clubs and the Gunners have failed to win on their last six visits to their rivals, Tottenham go into the game with an edge and should be able to make good on the favourites tag. The Hard Tackle predicts another win and another clean sheet for Jose Mourinho & co.