After the international break, the Premier League will be lit up by the first North London Derby of the season, as Arsenal hosts arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium. The clash between the two giants of English football has produced 141 goals since the start of the Premiership – the third most between two top-flight clubs.
Yet for the game slated for Sunday, both teams come in with varying form. The hosts have struggled with inconsistency since the start of the season. And barring the goalless draw the Gunners fought for at Stamford Bridge against defending champions Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s team has been a shadow of the team that once dominated English football. So much so that they slumped to a disastrous 3-1 away loss to league leaders Manchester City in their previous tie before the break.
It has left them reeling in sixth place – low by Arsenal’s standards.
Spurs meanwhile are placed third on the league table, level with second-placed Manchester United with 23 points in 11 games. And Mauricio Pochettino’s team has been getting in good results in all competitions.
In the Champions League, Spurs held defending champions Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. When the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Galacticos travelled to Spurs’ temporary host stadium, Wembley, for the return fixture, the London club came up with a stellar 3-1 win.
The Spurs are high on confidence. And on Sunday they will go into battle with their talisman – striker Harry Kane—hoping to continue the form that has made him one of the League’s best forwards. The Englishman has netted eight times so far this season, making him the joint highest with City’s Sergio Aguero.
Among the current crop of players from Arsenal and Spurs, Kane has scored the most in the North London Derby, having netted six times – third only behind Emmanuel Adebayor (8) and Robert Pires (7).
In the past few seasons though, power has steadily shifted towards Spurs in North London. And there is a sense that the visitors are slowly edging to winning their first match at the Emirates Stadium since their 3-2 away win back in 2010. In fact, Arsenal themselves haven’t managed to find a win in the fixture on the last three occasions – each ending as 1-1 draws (twice they had to come from behind) to earn a point.
On this occasion though, three points will be most crucial for both clubs. Spurs will want to earn the bragging rights, but also keep up with the clubs placed above them in the league. Arsenal however, will want to start rebuilding their season.