It’s another North London Derby! The King of North London Arsenal host perennial underachievers – Tottenham Hotspur after contrasting results in the Champions League in midweek. Arsenal won away at Ludogorets courtesy of a terrific world class goal from Mesut Ozil while Spurs lost to Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley. However, in the North London Derby, current form means nothing.
- Arsenal are winless in their last four Premier League north London derbies (D3 L1) – they’ve never gone five without a win against Tottenham in the league under Arsene Wenger.
- Indeed, Mauricio Pochettino is undefeated as a manager in his four Premier League north London derbies. No Spurs manager has ever gone unbeaten in their first five league games against Arsenal in top flight history.
- The only previous north London derby that kicked off at noon in the Premier League was in November 2004 – Arsenal won 5-4 at White Hart Lane.
- The team scoring first has failed to win this fixture on 23 occasions, the highest number in Premier League history (15 draws, eight defeats).
- The Gunners have scored at least once in 42 of their last 43 meetings with Tottenham in all competitions.
- Indeed, Tottenham have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 14 league meetings with Arsenal – their longest current run against an opponent in the Premier League.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 20 Premier League games (W12 D7 L1).
- Tottenham are without defeat in their first 10 league games of a season for the first time since 1990/91. They eventually finished 10th that season.
- Since his debut in 2013/14, Mesut Ozil has provided 12 Premier League assists for Olivier Giroud, more than any other player has managed for a single team-mate in the competition during this period.
- Olivier Giroud has scored six goals in his last six Premier League appearances for Arsenal – three of these have been headers. In fact, since his PL debut, Giroud has scored the most headed goals in the competition (20).
- Arsenal have averaged 1.59 points per game in November during Arsene Wenger’s reign at the club; their worst performing month in the Premier League under the Frenchman.
- Alexis Sanchez has been directly involved in nine goals in his last eight Premier League appearances (six goals, three assists).
- The Chilean netted his 50th goal in all competitions for the Gunners last weekend at Sunderland, becoming the 10th player to do so under Arsene Wenger.
- Since Mauricio Pochettino took over at Spurs, the Lilywhites have amassed 154 Premier League points (the 4th highest total), with Arsenal accruing the most (169).
- Tottenham have shipped a league-low five goals this season, with only 10 sides in Premier League history conceding fewer goals at this stage of a campaign.
(Stats courtesy of Statszone)
Arsenal welcome back Hector Bellerin, Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal from injuries and they are all expected to start on Sunday either side of ”Kostafi”. Santi Cazorla remains a doubt for the game. Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck remain long term absentees. Granit Xhaka also returns from domestic suspension.
Harry Kane is in the squad for Spurs for the first time since early September after recovering from injury. Toby Alderweireld is still out injured and Moussa Dembele is a doubt. Moussa Sissoko is suspended.
Bellerin and Monreal should reclaim their full back spots from Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs respectively ( even though I’d have love Gibbs to start). Francis Coquelin will certainly start but if Cazorla is not fit enough, Granit Xhaka or Mohamed Elneny will step in. Mesut Ozil is untouchable. The biggest question is in the attack. I expect Theo Walcott to certainly start if fit but will Wenger start Olivier Giroud or Alexis Sanchez in the striker role? Both players are in red hot form. Personally, I will prefer Sanchez starting to give us pace and penetration especially with Walcott returning. Giroud can be a plan B when things go tight. Alex Iwobi has been a little ineffective lately (due to overplaying) but this is a North London Derby and I expect him to be fired up for it.
Spurs have little options to pick from but they still have a solid squad. Hugo Lloris will certainly start, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose will play either side of Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier. Victor Wanyama will be partnered by Moussa Dembele (if fit) and Christian Eriksen will be the playmaker. Eric Lamela and Dele Alli will support Harry Kane in attack.
Arsenal are the team in form. We have won 13 of our last 15 games. Spurs are playing well and haven’t lost a league game this season but they are yet to winless in their last 6 games across all competitions. They have particularly struggled for goals without Harry Kane scoring only 2 goals in their last 3 games.
A lot will depend on which team starts better. Spurs won’t sit back and defend so, this is the right game for Alexis Sanchez to start in the middle of the attack. With additional pace from Walcott and Iwobi, we should be very quick in attack like against Chelsea. Spurs greatest weapon is their overlapping full backs (Rose and Walker) so, we must be wary of them and take advantage of the spaces they leave behind. The biggest concern for us will be how well Iwobi tracks back to help Monreal who has regressed a bit and getting slower. In the middle, Wanyama is very strong in the tackle so, we must unsettle him early by getting him booked and running rings around him (Oh Santi). We must take our chances as they come as well. We must be wary of Referee Mark Clattenburg too.
I believe both teams will be fired up for this game but Arsenal have the momentum and almost every player is in form. It won’t be an easy game but barring any refereeing errors and individual mistakes, I believe we will win 3-1.