Arsenal host Spurs in what is bound to be another feisty North London Derby on Saturday to kick off the Premier League weekend. The stakes are high after both teams have started the campaign strongly, with The Gunners currently sitting top of the Premier League, a point ahead of Spurs who remain unbeaten.
The two North London sides have put on some spectacular games over time, dating back to the first fixture in 1896. Saturday’s game is set to be the 206th time the pair have met across all competitions, with Arsenal winning 84 times to Spurs’ 67.
Arsenal head into the derby in 1st position in the league. The Gunners recorded 6 wins from their opening 7 games, with their only defeat coming away to Manchester United.
Mikel Arteta’s men bounced back the following game with an impressive win over Brentford. Arsenal looked convincing and dominated the game, despite key players missing such captain Martin Ødegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
The Gunners are playing an expansive, attractive brand of football that is clearly based off the Manchester City blueprint. At this moment in time, it wouldn’t be considered crazy to say that Arsenal are playing the best football in the league, especially since Pep Guardiola’s men haven’t kicked into full gear yet.
Despite many claiming Arsenal’s position is a result of a favourable run-in, they’ve dealt with teams in a convincing manner, being the better side in every fixture this season so far, Including in the defeat at Old Trafford. Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger suggests the Gunners could go all the way this season, such is how formidable they look thus far.
However, Arsenal face another tough test as Spurs rock up to the Emirates off an unbeaten start, winning 5 of their opening 7 games. The Lilywhites sit 3rd in the Premier League, behind their opponents by the aforementioned point, and Man City on goal difference.
Antonio Conte’s men may not be playing the most easy-on-the-eye football, but their ability to grind out results by scoring an abundance of goals is admirable. Despite Heung-Min Son only hitting the net for the first time in their last fixture, albeit with a hat-trick, Spurs have scored the second most goals in the league this season with 18, one ahead of their North London counterparts.
Spurs will be sweating on the fitness of their captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was withdrawn from the France squad early after picking up a knock on international duty.
Speaking to SPURSPLAY ahead of the game, Conte said: “To be honest, we have to check some players because they returned from the international break with some physical problems. Tomorrow, we have another training session to check their physical condition and then to make the best decision for Saturday. Hugo is one of the players with some physical problems, but we hope to see him on Saturday.”
Both sides have a lot riding on the derby, with the Gunners needing to showcase their abilities against a fellow ‘Big Six’ club rival given the easy fixtures argument. Arsenal will also be hoping to stay top of the league, something that can only be guaranteed of with a win. Furthermore, Arsenal play Liverpool next weekend, so Mikel Arteta will be looking to build some momentum ahead of that clash.
For Spurs, they remain one of two unbeaten teams in the league, along with Man City. Not only would they not want to surrender their invincibility to the hands of Arsenal, but with reports linking Conte to Juventus, Spurs seem obliged to compete for top honours across all competitions. Hence, they would not want to lose ground on their rivals at the top of the table.
Unfortunately for Spurs, history is not on their side with this fixture being particularly dominated by the home side. Tottenham have only picked up one victory in their last 29 league games at Arsenal, a 3-2 win back in 2010.
The stakes couldn’t be higher at this point in the season.
Arsenal 3 – 2 Spurs
There will be goals in this game for sure, but with history favouring the Gunners as well as a brilliant start to the season, I tip them slightly to rid Spurs of their invincibility. Although form does go out the window on Derby Day.