STAR PREVIEW: Arsenal v Tottenham

This is only the fourth game of the season for Arsenal and Tottenham but it is already a crucial North London Derby for both these clubs and it could be one with plenty of thrills too.

Arsenal’s flying start to the season came crashing back to earth with defeat at Liverpool, but Unai Emery will still be happy with his work so far this season. Wins against Newcastle and Burnley, without his side being quite at their best, were not results to be sniffed at and Emery will be delighted with the performances of Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe in the 2-1 win against Burnley a fortnight ago before they went to Anfield.

Arsenal were second best at Anfield but they did make chances there and for the first 40 minutes they were in the contest before Joel Matip’s opener, followed by David Luiz’s crazy challenge on Mohamed Salah, and there’s still plenty for them to be positive about. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have both notched already this season and there should be more to come from Ceballos and Pepe.

Tottenham have troubles both on and off the pitch, with transfer troubles creating an air of uncertainty over Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who were lacklustre to say the least when losing to Newcastle.

Pochettino has dismissed speculation he will leave Tottenham following today’s clash as “stupid” after some bookmakers stopped taking bets on him becoming the first Premier League manager to quit in the wake of rumours he will quit on Monday began to spread on social media.

That is far-fetched, but the mood there is not helped by rumours around key players; Jan Vertonghen (in the final year of his contract) has not played at all this season, Toby Alderweireld is also a free agent next summer, Danny Rose was told he could find himself a new club before the campaign began but is still in a Spurs shirt, and Victor Wanyama has been linked with a move to Belgium for a while.

That is not ideal, but Tottenham do have the quality to succeed without them; more worrying was the nature of their 1-0 defeat against Newcastle, when Tottenham managed just two shots on target from a total of 17. Despite having 80% possession, they failed to impress on the metrics and Newcastle deserved their points on an afternoon where Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, Hueung-Min Son and Lucas Moura were all strangely subdued.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
16:30 Sky Sports Premier League / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
MAR 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal
DEC 2018 CARABAO CUP Arsenal 0-2 Tottenham
DEC 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham
FEB 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal
NOV 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham
APR 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal
NOV 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
MAR 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal
NOV 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
SEP 2015 CAPITAL ONE CUP Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal
FEB 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
SEP 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham

Predictions of Tottenham’s demise are probably over-exaggerated – it’s 92 days since they were in the Champions League final and they did finish fourth last season – and they were deserved 3-1 winners against Aston Villa before somehow managing to take a 2-2 draw from Manchester City.

Perhaps Spurs’ biggest challenge will be the short journey to the Emirates. In the Premier League’s home table last season, Arsenal finished third and Tottenham are without a win in their last seven away Premier League matches. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last eight home North London Derbies in the Premier League, and Spurs can count on Arsenal finding another gear here.

The best way to play this could be to go for goals. Arsenal have pace to burn in their side with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front as a striking duo whilst Nicolas Pepe will also look to get at Spurs’ right. They are defensively vulnerable though, with David Luiz having had a nightmare against pace last week, and in Harry Kane (nine goals in nine North London Derbies), Hueng-Min Son, and Lucas Moura (even if he starts on the bench) to run at the Brazilian too whilst fullbacks Nacho Monreal and Ashley Maitland-Niles can also be targeted.

Last season’s meeting here finished 4-2 to Arsenal when both sides wrought havoc on the break and Over 3.5 Goals could be a live runner here given the pace on display. Two of Spurs three games so far have gone over that mark and Arsenal have more than enough attacking quality to make a serious mark.

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