Tottenham will head to Emirates Stadium on Sunday to take on arch-rivals Arsenal in the Premier League. The North London derby between both the clubs is considered one of the most enduring and polarising rivalries in English football, and with both clubs on level terms in terms of their strength and form, the derby is likely to be a tightly-contested fixture.
Both sides enter the fixture with contrasting form – Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are on the rise after a terrible start, while the Spurs have lost back-to-back fixtures after a fantastic start to the season.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s Premier League fixture between Arsenal and Tottenham.
The Gunners have had a disastrous start to the season, leaving people questioning Mikel Arteta’s tactics and ability to lead the team despite having the most activity during the transfer window.
They were inflicted a confidence-crushing defeat in the opening game of the season as newly-promoted Brentford registered a 2-0 victory over them. It was followed by defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Manchester City, bringing into doubt the Gunners claim to be a big-six club.
But Mikel Arteta’s side seems to have made a turnaround – winning back-to-back fixtures against Norwich City and Burnley.
Arsenal have added on to their wins on Wednesday with a 3-0 thumping victory over Wimbledon AFC, progressing to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup in front of 50,000 strong fans.
Mikel Arteta has often mentioned the need for fans to repose their faith in the team and they now sit comfortably in the league, just three points behind Tottenham. With Mikel Arteta yet to re-sign for the Gunners, the results in the next few fixtures will become crucial for both him and the club’s future.
Alexandre Lacazette, Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Martin Odegaard have all scored in the past two weeks and will be entering the fixture with momentum.
Kieran Tierney has been forced off the field with a cramp against Burnley and has missed the EFL Cup fixture. He is expected to recover and feature in the game.
Mikel Arteta has no other injury concerns and the return of Granit Xhaka after a three-match ban will boost their squad.
Nuno Espírito Santo announced his debut for Tottenham by leading his side to a 1-0 victory against defending champions Manchester City. The Lilywhites then followed it up with back-to-back wins against minnows Wolverhampton and Watford.
But a quick turnaround of events saw them lose both their London derbies – first to Crystal Palace and then to Chelsea. On paper, Tottenham have the weakest squad of the big-six clubs, and Santo has to rely on more than player’s skills if he is to take his club ahead this season.
The biggest concern for the Spurs is the lack of form of their lead player and English captain Harry Kane. It is no secret that Kane wanted to leave Tottenham at all costs this season, but after a failed bid to move to Manchester City, it is time for him to move beyond the slump and return to his prime form.
Injury woes have added to Santo’s troubles with Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura ruled out of the game. Heung-Min Son returned in the game against Chelsea but could not shine as well as expected in front of Harry Kane.
Much of Tottenham’s fortunes rest with the duo, and Santo has already indicated that it is time for them to move on and face the urgency of the situation.
HEAD TO HEAD
The rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham is one of the oldest in English football, with the first encounter between both clubs way back in 1887. Arsenal’s move to North London in 1913 right next to the Spurs turbocharged the rivalry.
A total of 189 games have been played between the clubs – with Arsenal emerging victorious on 78 occasions. Tottenham have won 60 fixtures while the remaining 51 games have ended in a tie.
The Spurs have won two of the last five fixtures and lost just one – partly due to Arsenal’s disastrous form last season. The last encounter between the rivals in a club-friendly match ended with Tottenham edging past Arsenal with a 1-0 victory.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Despite being lambasted by critics for a poor start to the season, Arteta has rallied his troops to turn around the team’s fortunes. Arsenal looked solid in their past three fixtures, dominating the opposition with high press football.
Tottenham have looked shaky in the past few weeks with Harry Kane’s slump being the biggest void. It is unlikely that they are likely to pose a threat to Arsenal, especially in front of a raucous home crowd who are hopeful of their team’s prospects this season.
Expect Arsenal to register their third consecutive victory and level on points with their North London rivals.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Aaron Ramsdale, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Ben White, Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka, Albert-Sambi Lokonga, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe, Martin Odegaard.
Tottenham Predicted XI: Hugo Lloris, Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilon, Oliver Skipp, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Dele Alli, Lo Celso, Son Heung-Min. Harry Kane
When: Sunday, 26 September 2021, 9:00 PM IST
Where: Emirates Stadium, London.
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures will be featured on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be telecasted live on Star Sports and Star Sports Select Channels.