This could be one of the most important North London derbies in recent history. Tottenham host their local rivals Arsenal with both teams still competing for a place in next season’s Champions League. A victory for the Gunners would all but confirm a top four finish. However, a win for Tottenham and the race would continue for the final two weekends. Spurs’ superior goal difference means that Arsenal would be at risk of dropping out of the top four if they dropped more points this season. The focus will be on Antonio Conte’s men trying to win the game. Anything less than three points would end their Champions League hopes.
Tottenham have their own reasons for wanting to finish in the top four. Antonio Conte is a world class coach and he belongs in the competition. The Italian may acknowledge that a top four finish isn’t a necessity this season, due to his mid season appointment. However, he won’t be willing to give up on the dream this early. Their counter attacking threat makes them very dangerous in this game. Arsenal haven’t been keeping many clean sheets, while Spurs have a very dangerous attack. It would make sense for Arsenal to sit deep, but they don’t really have the ability to do that. The approach of both teams will be interesting.
Mikel Arteta has done an excellent job at Arsenal this season, after a difficult start. There were rumours that he could lose his job earlier in the season, but there have been huge improvements made across the campaign. Recently, he has signed a new deal at the club and he will believe that he can establish the Gunners as one of the top four in the coming seasons. Arsenal have a very young squad with huge potential. There is a feeling that they will only improve further in the coming years. A place in next season’s Champions League is important to maintain their current trajectory.
In 2022, Tottenham have scored 38 Premier League goals. This is the joint-most in the Premier League, alongside Manchester City.
Arsenal haven’t kept a Premier League clean sheet in their last nine matches.
It has been a productive few weeks for the South Korean, with plenty left to play for. His main focus will be helping Tottenham overcome Arsenal to finish fourth. The attacker will believe that his talents deserve to be in the Champions League. This season has been another one of progression for Son Heung-min and he could yet scoop up some individual awards. After his goal at the weekend, he has reached 20 for the campaign. He is only two behind the current top scorer Mohamed Salah. That will be a personal motivation for him, as it would be an incredible achievement to finish the season as the Premier League top scorer. Between Son and Harry Kane, they have scored 55% of Tottenham’s goals in the league, showing their importance to the team. It can be argued that Son is carrying an even bigger goal threat than Kane, due to Kane’s preference to drop deeper to dictate play. Arsenal will know that they need to keep that pairing quiet if they are to avoid defeat.
Arsenal have had an excellent season. There have been a number of important players, but the outstanding player has been Bukayo Saka. He has continued his rapid development and he is now one of the best attackers in the Premier League. It would be a major step in his career to qualify for next season’s Champions League. He has experience at international level, but the next logical step is to play in Europe’s premier club competition. If Arsenal are going to keep hold of Saka for the long term, they will be aware that regular participation in the Champions League is crucial. The 20-year-old has contributed 11 goals and six assists in the Premier League. He will hope that he can add a few more to that before the season concludes. Saka performed well in the previous North London derby this season. He will hope for a similar impact on Thursday.
Tottenham have a few absentees for the rest of the season. It is expected that Japhet Tanganga, Matt Doherty, Oliver Skipp and Sergio Reguilon will be missing for the remainder of the campaign.
Ben White should be back to play for Arsenal in the North London derby. Rob Holding has been a capable deputy, but White is the preferred starter. Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney are both unavailable for the short trip.
This is going to be more tense than normal. There is a lot to play for on Thursday, with both teams knowing a defeat could be devastating. The recent defensive performances from these two teams makes me believe that Tottenham can win. Their home advantage will help and they have been conceding few goals in recent matches. They restricted Liverpool to a few chances. They should get the victory on Thursday to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal