Connect with us

Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: Arsenal v Spurs; North London is Red

As an American Gooner, when I am slagged off from other Gooners who don’t like my position on something or from so-called hardcore opposition supporters, it is that moniker – YANK – that I am often labeled with. As if being in America means I know nothing of the sport or the club I love. It is with that moniker however, that I write this piece.

As an American Gooner, when I am slagged off from other Gooners who don’t like my position on something or from so-called hardcore opposition supporters, it is that moniker – YANK – that I am often labeled with. As if being in America means I know nothing of the sport or the club I love. It is with that moniker however, that I write this piece.

Derby days are deliciously European. Rivalries like this just don’t exist in the US. Sorry, for those American Red Sox and Yankee fans, you don’t even come close to how an Arsenal supporter detests the small-time neighbors from only 4 miles away.

And therein is the reason why rivalries in the US will never match the intensity of Derby days – distance. Rivalaries in US sport are divisional not locational. I detest the Pittsburgh Penguins not only because Sidney Crosby is diving, cheating scum but because the Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at some point will be battling each other for playoff honors. But the reality is the banter between those two sports NHL clubs doesn’t exist except when the game or games are happening. Because I am some  hours drive from Pittsburgh (even though its in my own state) I just don’t run into enough Pittsburgh supporters to care.

Even with New York City which is only 2 hours by train and home to the New York Mets (who I despise) I just don’t care because again it’s a regional/divisional thing.

In the US the plain fact is we will never quite understand the rivalry and the intensity it manifests itself in the supporters. Derbies are something to behold and the rivalry is so intense that it is borderline violent at times (who am I kidding it still can be – harkening back to the hooligan era.)

Derbies are Civil War-like in their ability to pit neighbors against neighbors, cousins vs cousins, co-workers against co-workers and the anger is lasting. It doesn’t subside and while some of it is good natured, the constant rivalry and bitterness derived is long-lasting and is passed from generation to generation. Think Hatfield and McCoys but with football as the backdrop not some dodgy Mason-Dixon line.

It is this “locality” of football and its ability to create these intense rivalries that make this sport truly great. No matter where you go in England you are a stone’s throw from a large pitch and stadium and likely right in the middle of a local rivalry so intense, Michigan and Notre Dame fans would quiver.

When I got introduced to Arsenal, on the way to Liverpool, I was told one thing that was stressed to me repeatedly – “WE HATE TOTTNUM (this is the common Arsenal vernacular and I use it proudly).” It was said with such intensity that it was ingrained in my head. Sadly, for all my trips to see the Arsenal the one still on the bucket list to do is a “Norf London Derby.” It will happen and I revel in it and its intensity because I am crazy like that.

The movie Green Street Hooligans focused on a era that is for the most part gone in England. Yes, I am sure some of it still exists in small pockets. The firms as much a part of football as the derbies themselves. But watch the movie and it does a pretty good job giving a good feel of the intensity of these rivalries – in this case West Ham and Milwall as the backdrop. It’s not the greatest movie but you should get a sense of the feeling.

The saying goes that all the stats don’t matter in Derbies because it is one of those matches that is marked on the calendar where you absolutely leave everything you have on the pitch. It’s also the same in the stands. Fans are raucous, loud and belittling of each other. The 700 Level of the old Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia is notorious in US Sports. It is so because of the vitriol they would spew at opposing fans brave enough to enter the stadium to watch their team take on the Eagles. Suffice it to say, they would blush at what is sung, chanted and screamed at opposing supporters on Derby day.

Our rivalries in the US are good and based off of what school you went to or the nearest pro sport to you. They have their own intensity but for the most part they are friendly in nature and after the game is over here in the they usually drift away until the next time the two teams meet up. In England and in Europe they endure and are fanned through the life of a season and seasons. The banter is intense at all times.

I’ve grown to hate Spurds and more so since the advent and use of social media in supporting clubs. The vitriol and abuse is at levels I’d never known. I give as good as I get and while I am no fan of other clubs I actually have a level of interaction with those supporters that results in “friendly banter.” I have no such interactions with Tottnum fans and wish known. And I like it that way.

I may not be able to be in the stands. I may not have the locality on my side but there is no other club I want to see fail than Spurds. We don’t want to beat them because they are a threat to our supremacy – they aren’t – we want to beat them because that’s what you do to your local rivals – you put them into their place, something Arsenal has done the majority of the time.

Rivals for Arsenal consist of those we compete with for the top honors and Tottenham. Above all Tottnum inspires the most intense reactions due to the nature of the Derby.

If you are an American and getting to know the sport for the first time, derbies are deliciously fun and intense. The TV doesn’t do the crowds or the feelings of the players any justice but trust me – you want to watch it because they are what makes this sport so grand.

About this weekend’s match.

Okay enough of the Derby day primer, the noisy neighbors from cross town come in for a visit.  In the past few years we’ve been hit up with how likely it is they will finish above the Arsenal. Every year however, they don’t. This year it is eerily quiet on that front as Tottnum continue to disappoint the anti-Arsenal establishment.

I have to admit over the last few seasons keeping an eye on them fearing they might catch lightening in the bottle and actually manage to overtake us. But each year they continue to be, well Tottnum. This year I haven’t bothered. Maybe that is overly confident but their team has hardly changed over last season with the exception of a manager (same ole Tottnum) and they aren’t as dynamic as everyone thought.

The players everyone thought would light up the Premier League last season are still failing to impress. There are glimpses from Lamela and Ericksen but for the most part they are more Saldado-ish then Coasta-ish in their ability to adapt to the Premier League. Throw in some mug named Adebayor and well, you hardly are given over to fits of thinking this is the year they manage it.

Now look it’s a derby and well, that means anything can happen but in the bigger picture of things, Arsenal should be more concerned with the normal cadre of clubs – United and Liverpool – nipping them to the top 4 then the local neighbors.

Both teams are having defensive issues but Arsenal are now third best in the league with goals scored – 10 and Tottnum are still struggling to find someone who can regularly put the ball into the back of the net. I would expect that Arsenal are more likely to resolve their defensive issues sooner than Tottnum will find a scoring solution and that could (and should) spell trouble for that lot.

Last season Arsenal took all 3 meetings without conceding a goal. In previous years Tottnum looked a threat especially as the likes of Bale, Modric, Defoe and Van der Vaart featured regularly in their lineups. Now, they look as if their time in the sun is fading and they will drift back to their mid-upper table mediocrity we all know and love.

It will be an intense affair for sure but in the end I think that Arsenal have too much on the pitch and on the bench to not outscore the scum.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Danny Welbeck. All the signs are there that the signing from United is finding his feet at Arsenal. His assist and goal last week were perfect examples of the confidence he has playing up front and it will only grow.

Spurs. Emmanuel Adebayor. Any time he plays against his former club something happens. He may score but there is also a high probability he could get sent off. We’ll have to wait and see.


Lineups, Arsenal, Spurs, AFC, THFC, Infographic, North London Derby, Derby, Gunners, Gooners, Spurs

Arsenal 4-1-4-1 (4-3-3) Spurs (4-2-3-1)

Injuries & Suspensions:
Arsenal: Walcott (fitness), Giroud (foot), Debuchy (ankle), Gnabry (knee) Monreal (late test) Flamini (late test)

Spurs: Walker (pelvis)

Head to Head:
Arsenal, Tottenham, Spurs, Gooners, Gunners, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Alexis, Infographic, stats, North London Derby, AFC, Emirates, Head to Head, stats, Comparison

Match Officials:
Referee: Michael Oliver (4M, 11Y 0R)
Assistant Referees: Burt, Brooks
Fourth Official: Pawson

 Broadcast Info:
UK: Sky Sports 1 17.30 GMT
US: NBC Sports Network 12:30 PM EST

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal 2 – 1 Spurs

Match Facts (courtesy FourFourTwo)


  • Arsenal have won four of their last five Barclays Premier League games against Tottenham (two 1-0 wins and two 5-2 wins).
  • Tottenham have won just one of their last 21 Barclays Premier League games away at Arsenal.
  • Arsenal last failed to score at home to Spurs in the Premier League in November 1998. Since then the Gunners have scored 38 times in 15 games.
  • Tottenham have conceded six penalties in the Premier League in 2014, only Manchester United have conceded as many.
  • Arsenal took 25 points from their 10 London derbies in the Premier League last season (W8 D1 L1) and defeated Crystal Palace on the opening weekend this season.
  • Six of Tottenham’s seven league points this season have come in London derbies.
  • If there are four goals in this game then it will become the outright highest scoring fixture in Premier League history (currently 126 goals).
  • Seven points from five games is Tottenham’s slowest start since gaining just two under Juande Ramos in 2008-09.
  • Arsenal (154) and Tottenham (125) are first and third respectively for dribbles attempted this season.
  • Emmanuel Adebayor has scored more goals than any other player in north London derby history (8 for Arsenal and 2 for Spurs)



More in Match Previews