Premier League Preview; Tottenham vs Arsenal in the North London Derby
This weekend, Tottenham Hotspur welcomes rivals Arsenal in the latest installation of the infamous North London Derby.
Despite being less than halfway through the Premier League campaign, both sides have a lot to play for in what looks to be a season-defining game, so let’s look at how Sunday’s game might unfold.
It’s been an eventful start to the year for Spurs, with a disappointing New Year’s Day home defeat to Aston Villa followed by a statement win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and victory last weekend to League 1 side Portsmouth in the FA Cup.
Granted, injuries continue to plague Antonio Conte’s squad, with Rodrigo Bentancur, Dejan Kulusevski, and Richarlison having been side-lined, with the former two a particular miss in the first team.
On the contrary, and to the distaste of Spurs fans, visitors Arsenal remain the league leaders and have regrettably been one of the division’s most consistent sides under Mikel Arteta. The Gunners sit five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, having lost just one game all season, and boast the second-best defensive record in the league, conceding just 14 times.
However, Arteta will still be without forward Gabriel Jesus, who sustained a long-term injury on international duty with Brazil in the World Cup, with Eddie Nketiah presumably continuing to start in his place.
Following our strong performance against Palace last time in the league, Antonio Conte will be hopeful Spurs can pick up where we left off as if we revert to our habit of conceding first; we may struggle to come back against a resolute Arsenal defence.
Midfielder Yves Bissouma will be back available for selection whilst Conte has been audibly hopeful that Bentancur may also make a welcomed return to the side. Furthermore, Kulusevski is also expected to return to action and hopefully provide some much-needed creativity in an otherwise often uninspiring attack.
Arsenal is the perfect time for Kane to reach a major milestone for Tottenham
Tottenham fans will watch talisman Harry Kane this weekend – the all-time North London Derby top scorer, with the Englishman in line to break a previously unimaginable club record.
With 265 club goals, Kane sits just one behind Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s top scorer; now is a matter of when and not if he will claim the record.
In the eyes of Spurs fans, there’s perhaps no better opponent to achieve such a feat against than Arsenal, with a brace this weekend being enough for Kane to become Spurs’ outright top scorer.
But, as much as everyone associated with the club would love to see Kane reach this milestone, this cannot take away focus from the fact this is a mammoth game for Tottenham; in our hunt for European football next season, we cannot afford to keep dropping points regardless of the opponent.
With pressure mounting on the side, perhaps now is an ideal time for the North London Derby, as in truth, form almost goes out the window in a game of “who wants it most.”
One thing is for sure, Conte will be desperate to replicate last season’s 3-0 thrashing of Arsenal at N17, but he will be acutely aware it’s a completely different ball game this time around.
Spurs fans can take refuge because the North London Derby historically favours the home side. However, it’s still paramount that we get behind the team and generate the kind of atmosphere that will intimidate our London rivals.
Ultimately, Tottenham needs to approach Sunday tentatively, as Arsenal has shown the ability to pick off any signs of weakness this season, as we cruelly found out back in October.
However, with Kane, Son, and Kulusevski in the side, there’s every chance we can again overpower Arsenal in terms of attacking force and deliver what would be a much-needed three points and a statement win for Tottenham and Conte.