The North London derby is being played this weekend and there will be a small section of Tottenham supporters will be there to witness it. Albeit a small number, it will be good to see fans back in the Premier League, especially for a fixture such as this one. The home team will go into the match as favourites, as they are currently top of the table, while Arsenal languish in the bottom half. If Spurs manage to win, they will move 11 points clear of their rivals after just 11 matches. The questions being asked of Mikel Arteta will multiply should they taste their third defeat in four league matches.
Tottenham are in the stronger position and have managed to progress under their new manager. There were doubts about Jose Mourinho at the highest level, but he is quickly putting those to bed as he has led Spurs to the top of the table. He will be hungry to maintain their current level and challenge for the title, even if he isn’t willing to state them openly in the public domain. This weekend, the Portuguese coach will be in his element in front of supporters in a derby match. Back-to-back clean sheets against Manchester City and Chelsea show how the defence has improved. The team will be confident of coming out on top this weekend.
It has been a slow start to the season for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta. It was believed that he was a better coach than either Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard following the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph. However, the Spaniard is now the one under the most pressure and a derby defeat would be extremely damaging to his position. At the time of writing, they are closer to the relegation zone than they are the top of the league. This is a worrying statistic, as they are set for another middling season unless results improve quickly.
If Tottenham manage to win this weekend, it will be the first time they have won five consecutive home matches in two years.
Arsenal have taken 13 points from 10 matches, which represents their worst start to a season in the Premier League era.
It has been an incredible start to the season for Harry Kane, as he has found his best form under Jose Mourinho. There were fears that he would regress under the Portuguese coach, but it has been the opposite. The England captain has already contributed seven goals and nine assists in the Premier League. It is rare for a player to compete to finish the season as the top scorer and top assister, but the 27-year-old remains in the race for both. In a season such as this one, there will be worries about his fitness, as he has suffered muscle injuries in the past. At the time of writing, he has managed to avoid serious injury. Mourinho has commented that he is a doubt for this weekend, but there is a belief that this is mind games rather than a serious concern. In 11 Premier League matches against Arsenal, the striker has scored ten times and he relishes the opportunity to go up against the Gunners. He will be desperate to play a match-winning role this weekend.
There has been a lot of discussion on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his influence since signing a new contract. The 31-year-old has contributed two goals and an assist in ten Premier League matches. That isn’t good enough for a player that is generally considered world class and possibly the only one with that status in the current squad. Although his performances haven’t been great, he can’t solely be blamed for this as the attack has been starved of service. Throughout his career, he has showed himself to be a quality finisher. At the moment, he isn’t being given the platform to thrive. His position on the pitch keeps changing, while he is averaging a lowly 1.8 shots per game. For Arsenal to improve, they need to get him into more dangerous positions in the final third. It will be tough at the weekend, as Tottenham have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the division. However, the occasion could bring out the best in the 31-year-old. One thing is for certain, he won’t be kept out of the goals for too long.
Harry Kane is a doubt, but it is expected that he will start on Sunday. Toby Alderweireld is back in training and he could be back to start. Hugo Lloris is another doubt, with Joe Hart on standby to take the gloves.
Thomas Partey could be available to play in his first North London derby. David Luiz is a doubt following his head collision with Raul Jimenez last weekend.
By definition, derby matches are unpredictable and the form book goes out of the window. Tottenham will be favourites, but it could be an occasion that allows Arsenal to get back into form. Mikel Arteta has managed to do okay in big matches since taking charge, as the FA Cup run showed. That said, Jose Mourinho is a master in the big matches and this season, he is unbeaten against traditional top six clubs, with notable victories over Manchester United and Manchester City. They should have the quality and game management to come out on top this weekend.
Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal