One of England’s fiercest and longest-standing rivalries commences this Super Sunday as Arsenal host Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium. What a way to kick-start the jam-packed festive season of football. The Gunners come into this tie after a superb run of 12 Premier League games without defeat, while Spurs are off the back of another London derby, in which they bulldozed their way past Chelsea, humbling the Blues to a 3-1 defeat. For both sides, this is undoubtedly their biggest game in the calendar year, but it seems that this fixture is one that Arsenal have favoured in recent times – with Spurs failing to beat the Gunners in their last eight visits to the Emirates Stadium. This will be Unai Emery’s first North London derby as Gunners boss, while Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping his experience in this fixture can distance his Tottenham side six points clear of Arsenal.
Arsenal will be looking to get back into the top four and stay within touching distance of qualifying for next year’s UEFA Champions League. A win here over their crosstown rivals will see the Gunners leapfrog Spurs, due to their superior goal difference, while Arsenal could also move into third spot if Chelsea fail to beat Fulham in what is also considered to be a London derby.
The Gunners have come under a ton of criticism in the past, in fact, even when they were on that fantastic winning streak, but since then, critics have been quiet and have rightfully applauded Arsenal’s hard work – which, in all honesty, has come down to one man – Unai Emery.
Talk of complacency, signs of being weak, failing to turn up in big games and as Troy Deeney once said, a side with no “cojones”, is all talk of yesteryear under Arsene Wenger. Under Emery, the Gunners look much more up for it each match. Their passion, determination and never-say-die attitude has seen them endure an impressive unbeaten run stretching to 12 league outings after their 2-1 win at Bournemouth last weekend.
The Gunners have always possessed a lethal strikeforce – it’s almost what they became known for since the late ‘90s, with players like Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin Van Persie to all don the famous red and white jersey. Now, the lethal partnership of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seem to be next on the list as great forwards to represent the club, with both strikers gelling well together, both with goals to show for their efforts, with Aubameyang currently leading the goalscoring charts – alongside Sergio Aguero – with eight to his tally for the season.
As brilliant as the duo have been, for me, one of Arsenal’s most important players this term has been Lucas Torreira, who has also been one of the signings of the season to date. The little Uruguayan has been immense in breaking up the play and has nullified the threat Arsenal usually face on the counter-attack – something that will be key in this weekend’s North London derby.
As far as performances are concerned, Tottenham come off the back of their best yet, beating Chelsea 3-1 in front of a jam-packed Wembley Stadium. Exactly what was required heading into the first North London derby of the season.
Spurs now sit third behind only Manchester City and Liverpool, and although overtaking the Reds in second place might be too difficult of a task to happen this weekend, Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be hoping to stretch the gap between Chelsea and Arsenal, who are both breathing down their necks in fourth and fifth spot respectively.
Tottenham are certainly not in third spot by luck, in fact, they might have the edge over Chelsea and Arsenal in qualifying for the Champions League – despite being so cheaply written off after failing to sign a single player in the transfer market. Spurs have arguably been the most consistent team in England, especially since Poch’s arrival in 2014. A giant club, Spurs have become.
They have won their last five away matches in the Premier League, and prior to their defeat at Watford, Spurs overcame the odds to beat Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford.
In Spurs’ match against Chelsea, Pochettino fielded Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min for the first time this season, and it certainly paid off. Despite the excellent form that Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela have been in this campaign, its clear to see who makes up Tottenham’s best attack.
Kane has proven to be an absolute beast in front of goal, while Son, Alli and Eriksen provide the extra spark that ignites flames when Spurs are on the ascendancy. Against what has been a frail Arsenal backline this season, Pochettino’s men will surely fancy their chances. They’ve got the players capable of rewriting history, while their manager is slowly becoming one of the world’s best.
Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Sissoko; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane.
Prediction: Arsenal (15/10)
This promises to be an epic encounter, but my money is on Arsenal. They’ve shown great character and fight this season and have been a joy to watch at times. The combination of Lacazette and Aubameyang have been outstanding, although, in derby games, the winner usually comes from an unlikely scorer, so I would suggest you just back the Gunners straight here at 15/10.
You might like to check out our Soccer / Football App