Match Preview: Arsenal v Tottenham; Fireworks for the Weekend
It’s only fitting that the North London Derby take place on the weekend that Bonfire Night occurs. The traditional recognition of 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament. Given the fireworks that exist between Arsenal and Tottenham it’s appropriate that the match be played this weekend.
There are many derbies in the UK that hold special meaning. There is the Tyneside Derby, Manchester United v Liverpool and the newly minted Manchester Derby – newly minted because before City had money that derby had little impact on anything but local pride.
To be honest though they all lack the vim and vigor of the North London Derby. It’s one of the only derbies that’s truly based on one fan base hating another. It was always heated but ever since that dark day when Sol Campbell allowed his contract to run out and move from Tottnum to Arsenal – the rest we shall say is history.
To be fair Arsenal have gotten the better of Spurs on most occasions. Sure under “new” manager Mauricio Pochettino they’ve managed 4 games without a loss (1W 3D) and every year this is supposed to be the year they finish above the Arsenal. Well, we know how that goes.
It’s the bitterest of rivalries and it fills each side up with equal parts bravado and worry. We know on our day we should run rampant over them. But this is a derby and league form can take a rest for the day. Each team will want to show that they are the kings of the town on that day.
For some the derby has lost some of its lustre. It used to be that the sides were not friendly with each other and the dislike permeated throughout the terraces and the squad. Nowadays with so many internationals playing for each team, the importance seems lost on the players. Still they act their part and make this the highlight of the season.
Yet a lot of that may be changing. More is at stake this season. Arsenal are coming in on good form and high on confidence. Tottenham come in undefeated in the league this season and have ambitions usually above their station. There may be a little bit more bite to this affair then recent years.
Alexis Sanchez had this to say:
“It’s going to have everything,” he said. “It’ll be a high-intensity match with plenty of hustle and bustle. I’ve played them a few times now and the first time I didn’t know what to expect.
“They told me I had to start strong, and I remember I got taken out early on but then told myself that wouldn’t happen again.
“They’re a massive rival. My team-mates and I will leave everything on the pitch.
At least the human energizer bunny gets it and that fills me with joy because a derby needs that passion. It needs that fire or it just becomes another match and derbies shouldn’t just be another match.
What to Expect?
Tottenham are in a bit of a low run of form right now. But we have to take that away. If they arrive for the derby they will want to prove a point. But I spent time watching them against Bayer Leverkusen and the one thing that stuck out was how uncomfortable the high press made them.
They rushed passes, got bad touches on the ball and made mistake after mistake. They are a team used to setting the tempo and they were unable to do so and had Leverkusen been more clinical around the 18 it’s likely the score would’ve been a little more daunting.
When Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-0 this season and United 3-0 last season, they employed a high press all across the field. We were winning the ball up high and creating repeated odd man chances. Throw that in with the speed of the attack and Arsenal looked rampant.
It’s my hope that Wenger saw Tottnum’s difficulty with the press (against Liverpool too) and decides to go with either his normal front 4 of Alexis up top, Walcott on the right, Iwobi on the left and Özil in the 10 role or swaps the Ox for Iwobi. This is our pacey pressing lineup and it can cause so many problems for opposition defenders.
If Arsenal can establish the press and tempo of the game early and get a running start, they can have joy. The visitors’ best defender Toby Alderweireld is out as is Moussa Dembele. This weakens them not only in the back line but in the middle of the pitch. An Arsenal team on form as it is can cause all kinds of problems to this side.
What we can’t do is be slow and prodding. We can’t sit back and play a tiki taka game. Tottnum will see this and look to press us off the ball and deny the passing channels. They may be short in terms of their players right now, but they can still score and they can still create problems.
Simply put Arsenal should come out of the blocks flying. Forget possession. Let Tottnum have the ball. But put so much pressure on them that we can create chances from the havoc we can create. We did it before and against better teams. We should do it again.
Where to Worry.
It remains to be seen if Harry Kane will start. He was held out of the midweek tie as he came back from injury. If he starts, he has shown a decent return rate against Arsenal. He can cause problems, and as much improved as our defense is, he will cause issues.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez. The high press all starts with him. He conducts it like a maestro. He hunts down the ball looking to force a turnover and create a chance. If he starts on fire – so will the rest of the team.
Spurs. Hugo Lloris. With a key cog in his back 4 out, Lloris could find himself very busy.
Injuries & Suspensions:
Arsenal: Pérez (ankle), Mertesacker (knee), Welbeck (knee)
Spurs: Alderweireld (knee), Lamela (hip), Dembélé (ankle), Sissoko (suspended 3 of 3)
Goals Scored Per Game:
Goals Conceded Per Game:
The Manager’s Take (Courtesy Arsenal.com)
“Maybe subconsciously sometimes when the team comes back to draw, both teams subconsciously say ‘OK at least it is a result we can live with’,” the boss told Arsenal.com.
“But we play at home on Sunday, and we want to win the game. It is an important fixture, yes, but for us overall in the situation we are in it’s a big game that we need to win and we will absolutely focus on that.
“We are in a strong position in the league and we want to strengthen this position. It’s a derby and before a derby you need to prepare mentally as well to be at your best, to fight no matter what happens and as well to be effective. That means mastering every situation we face on the day. You prepare mentally for that.”
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (7M, 30Y, 1R)
Assistants: J Collin, S Bennett
Fourth official: A Marriner
UK: BT Sport 12.00 GMT
US: NBC Sports Network 7:00 AM EST
Arsenal 2 – 1 Tottenham
Match Facts (Courtesy FourFourTwo.com via Opta)
- 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.