The North London derbies are the standout fixtures every year. Goals, red cards and fights characterize this fiercely contested game. Arsenal play Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium this Sunday and will be looking to take advantage of a vulnerable looking Tottenham side. Although it can also be said that Arsenal are vulnerable themselves. Here is a preview looking at what to expect from Tottenham, where Arsenal can hurt them and the important stats behind both sides.
What can be expected from Tottenham?
The past form usually goes out of the window when it comes to derbies. This is where Arsenal will have to be wary of their North-London neighbours. Spurs have a quality side without a doubt. However, looking at this fixture it is easy to see why Arsenal may have a comparative advantage. With regards to the team news, Tottenham will be without Ryan Sessegnon, Juan Foyth and Kyle Walkers-Peters while Dele Alli, Eric Dier and most notably Tanguy Ndombele are major doubts. The absence of Ndombele is a major blow for Tottenham as he is arguably the best ball progressor they have. This could hamper their transition from defence to midfield and midfield to attack and force Christian Eriksen to drop into a deeper role.
Given these notable absentees, Spurs are likely to take a more direct approach. With Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura likely to start on the wings, Spurs will heavily rely on their pace and dribbling to hit Arsenal on the counter. In their last game against Newcastle, Spurs could not convert a whopping 80 per cent of the possession into goals and considering Arsenal will most probably edge them out in possession at the Emirates, a very pragmatic Spurs side can be expected.
Tottenham will also be a threat from set-pieces as we’ve seen in the past. In both derbies last season, Spurs scored from a set-piece. Eriksen’s delivery is usually accurate and Tottenham have the height as well as a clinical finisher in Kane to punish Arsenal from set-pieces.
Where should Arsenal target?
Arsenal should look to target the wide areasl, especially the right flank, given Tottenham’s injuries and the potency of Arsenal’s attack. Nicolas Pepe will have the chance to run at a shaky defence without much impediment and should look to keep the Spurs defenders occupied. Arsenal also need to win the battle in midfield and dominate possession. Spurs cannot be given time on the ball for the likes of Eriksen, Son and Lucas to find space. Arsenal have scored four goals in three games this season and to be honest haven’t looked particularly fluid or aesthetic in general. Both the wins over Newcastle and Burnley papered over some persistent cracks in defence. Arsenal have been allowing opposition sides far too many shots on goal and need to increase the intensity when it comes to putting the opposition under pressure.
Personally, I would like to see Aubameyang start up front. The Gabonese striker is wasted playing out wide and should be leading the attack no matter the circumstance. While Emery is likely to play a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, Arsenal need to take the game to Tottenham and not allow the visitors settle in the early stages. By overloading the wide areas, Emery’s side can put pressure on Spurs’ defence to force errors and create chances themselves . At the same time, pressing from the Arsenal frontline can stagger Tottenham’s transitions and open up opportunities.
Sticking to a four-man defence is a must no matter the opponent. We look far more balanced when playing such a defence. The composition in midfield will be interesting to see. The main question is whether Arsenal opt for three midfielders or a 4-2-3-1. Dani Ceballos must start and at the same time I would like to see a place for Özil in the side. Lucas Torreira should be another starter as the Uruguayan’s tenacity, tackling and defensive contribution will be important in keeping the side vigilant to the threat of a counter-attack. Emery’s haphazard team selection and a lack of a plan as such makes it difficult to predict the lineup but hopefully whoever walk out onto the pitch can put in a performance worthy of a derby.
In conclusion, Arsenal have the tools to really take apart an unsettled, injury-stricken Tottenham side. At the same time, Arsenal have the ability to self-destruct themselves. Emery’s side need to make the most of buoyant home support and put Spurs under real pressure constantly. A derby victory and three points before the international break would a morale-boosting result. By targeting Tottenham’s weaknesses without exposing themselves too much, Arsenal can certainly claim the bragging rights and are considered favourites to do so.
Arsenal 2 – 1 Tottenham
What the Head Coach Says (courtesy Football.London)
“Yes, intensity was very important. They are going to try and play with identity and need to impose our gameplan against them, knowing it’s going to be difficult. We need to look at our position defensively and offensively. Above all, we need to play each ball, each metre, each minute with that intensity. After, we need to be clever when we have the ball and are in good situations to make the difference against them. Also, I think it’s a very, very big challenge for us and it’s a very, very good moment, a good match and the possibility of winning against them on Sunday gives a chance for good success. We also remember that last year we finished behind them with only one point’s difference in 38 matches. We are going to play against the Champions League finalists and there are a lot of positives for us, for our supporters, to enjoy that match on Sunday.”
Arsenal record vs Tottenham (Premier League only)
54M 20W 12L 22D
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Assistants: Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis.
Fourth official: Andre Marriner.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.
UK: Sky Sports 16.30 BST
US: NBC Sports Network 11:30 AM EST
Match Facts (courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Tottenham have only won two of their 27 Premier League away matches versus Arsenal, in May 1993 and November 2010.
- Spurs won 2-0 at the Emirates in the League Cup last December. In all competitions, Spurs have won consecutive away matches at Arsenal just once, in 1925 and 1926.
- The 18 penalties scored in this fixture is the joint highest in Premier League history along with Everton against Newcastle United.
- This is the 186th north London derby. Arsenal have won 77 times, Tottenham 58 with 50 draws.
- The Gunners have won more Premier League games (60) and have a higher win rate (61%) than any other side in games played in September.
- They also haven’t lost a north London derby in September since 1969, winning six and drawing four of 10 such meetings in all competitions.
- Arsenal have given away eight Premier League penalties since the start of last season – only Brighton (10) have conceded more.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored just three goals in 14 league games against sides from the established top six. In matches against other clubs he has scored 31 times in 38 matches.
- Arsenal have attempted 28 shots in the Premier League this season – only Crystal Palace (16) and Newcastle United (25) registered fewer in the opening three rounds.