Premier League football returns this weekend with a showcase event as Arsenal host Tottenham in the latest installation of the North London Derby.
Last season’s games were more than eventful, with both sides recording emphatic home wins to help propel their Champions League aspirations.
Almost exactly a year ago, an explosive first half saw Arsenal enter the break three goals to the good, and despite Heung-Min Son’s late consolation strike, the match ended 3-1.
More recently – and pleasingly for Spurs fans, a Rob Holding red card coupled with a Tottenham masterclass saw Antonio Conte’s sides run out 3-0 winners; the true swing in momentum needed in securing a top-four finish.
Both sides securing home wins is certainly intrinsic to Premier League NLD’s, as whoever hosts more often than not emerges victorious.
Tottenham has struggled at the Emirates in the League
The League Cup is a strange exception with several away team NLD victories in recent years, with the last upset coming in 2018/19 where Spurs won 2-0 at the Emirates, but in the Premier League, home advantage is paramount.
Spurs’ last league victory at Arsenal came in 2010/11 in dramatic fashion; goals from Samir Nasri and Marounne Chamakh saw the Gunners lead 2-0 at half-time. But an inspired comeback saw Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham claim the points thanks to goals from Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, and a late Younnes Kaboul header.
This weekend, Tottenham must attempt to break this stigma, as picking up any points could have mammoth repercussions moving forward in the league.
Both sides have started well; Spurs remain unbeaten in a record-breaking start to the season whilst Arsenal sit top of the table, but besides Manchester United – to whom they lost, they are arguably yet to face a top side.
Conte has a big stylistic decision to make ahead of the game, as the Italian must choose between his tried and tested 3-4-2-1 or the 3-5-2, which saw success last time out.
At Leicester, 20 minutes in the 3-5-2 saw Tottenham become a robust, defensively- sound unit with more midfield presence – something that could be useful against an Arsenal side likely to be on the front foot.
However, with so much at stake, Conte may be reluctant to change what has been a winning formula, so we fans will eagerly await Saturday’s line-up.
Three points this weekend would see Spurs leap-frog Arsenal, but perhaps the bigger victory would be psychological, from winning at the Emirates.
If Conte can take something home, Spurs would remain unbeaten having gone to both Chelsea and Arsenal, sending a clear message to the rest of the league that we must be taken seriously.
Saturday is bound to be a hard-fought game, as both sides will know the significance of a win, but we must hope Spurs can continue our fine early-season league form.