It has been a good start for both Arsenal and Tottenham this season, but each club will know the importance of this weekend. A win for either club would inject a lot of momentum into their season, while a loss would have the opposite impact. As the home team, there is more pressure on Arsenal, but Ange Postecoglou won’t want to lose Spurs’ positive momentum.
Arsenal are full of confidence after their return to Champions League football. It is the first time since Arsenal Wenger left the club and the feeling around the club is as good as it has been in a while. Mikel Arteta has been a revolutionary appointment, but he now needs to take the next step and that is to win the league title. The ambition showed during the summer showed the club clearly want that. It might not come this season. A win this weekend will make a lot of people believe that it is possible.
Tottenham started the season with relatively little pressure on them and that has had a freeing impact on the squad. The sale of Harry Kane could have had an unsettling impact, but Postecoglou has managed it well. Now, some are talking Spurs up as potential top four finishers and that means that pressure will start to build over the coming months if the form maintains. This weekend, there remains relatively little pressure. They can go to the Emirates Stadium with good energy and that makes them a dangerous opponent.
Arsenal’s home form is a concern, especially defensively, as they have kept only four clean sheets from their last 27 home league matches.
Tottenham have only won twice away against Arsenal in the Premier League era.
The news of Martin Odegaard’s new contract was met with a celebration online. He has become a central figure in the Arsenal attack and his leadership is there for all to see. Tottenham will take a positive approach to the game and they won’t be shy in committing players forward. That could play into Arsenal’s hands, as there will be space for them to exploit. Odegaard is one of the most creative players in the league. He has the quality to inflict damage in this game. It is early in the season. The midfielder already has two goals, while he added one in the Champions League. The stage could be set for him.
James Maddison has spoken about his he likes to take centre stage. There is no bigger occasion than the North London derby and it would be expected that he is relishing the opportunity to show his class in this fixture. The fans have quickly taken to him, but this would increase his popularity even more should he play a match winning role. Arsenal have shown vulnerabilities, as their new midfield is gelling. Declan Rice will also be playing in his first North London derby and that is an individual battle that could shape the result.
Gabriel Martinelli is a doubt for the weekend after he picked up a hamstring injury. Leandro Trossard has scored in successive matches, so is likely to start regardless of Martinelli’s fitness. Thomas Partey and Jurrien Timber are both absent.
Ivan Perisic has suffered a serious injury and could miss the rest of the season. Giovani Lo Celso, Bryan Gil and Rodrigo Bentancur are all going to be unavailable.
This is going to be the game of the weekend. Arsenal are an established top force now, so it is a good test for Tottenham. If they manage to get three points, the excitement over Postecoglou’ steam will reach new heights. I’d expect goals at both ends with the home side just snatching it.
Arsenal 3-2 Tottenham