For the first time in 21 years, Arsenal will take on Tottenham Hotspurs, having finished below them in the table the previous season. Nothing has hurt Arsenal as much as that. There is nothing that pumps fans of both these teams more than these encounters. For years, Arsenal has had the upper hand in the rivalry. Their fans will still boast to be the superior team, while Tottenham Hotspur supporters are certain, there is a shift in balance. One might argue that Spurs’ insurgence has ensured the rivalry between the two North London powerhouses is at its fiercest. On Saturday, at the Emirates Stadium, it will at a lot more than 3 vital points at stake.
While the difference in the recent form might be only of 1 more loss, there is no hiding from the fact that Spurs have begun the season in much better form. Tottenham stands joint second on the table, 4 points ahead of Arsenal. The true distinction behind the sides is seen elsewhere as Tottenham Hotspur’s impressive 3-1 victory over Real Madrid reflect how good a side they are.
Arsenal can take solace from their impressive record at home this season. So far, the Gunners have won every game they have played at the Emirates stadium this season. While this will give Arsenal hope going into the encounter, the away form of Pochettino’s side is as impressive. Last season’s runners-up Tottenham Hotspur have won every game away from home this season except for the loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Since Mauricio Pochettino has taken charge, Tottenham Hotspur has not lost to Arsenal in the Premier League. In the six encounters, four have finished in draws (including all 3 at Emirates) and Spurs have the other two. Pochettino evidently has a psychological edge over Arsene Wenger. The onus is on Arsene Wenger to be able to break it. The Past doesn’t read well for Arsenal fans as it took him 13 years to break a similar streak with Jose Mourinho.
If there is one thing that can break the best of teams, it is injuries. Tottenham faces a severe injury crisis, coming into this encounter. While Toby Alderweireld, Hugo Lloris, Victor Wyanama are confirmed absentees, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Jan Vertoghen opted out of international commitments due to fitness issues. Pochettino will nervously hope, that he has all these players available at his disposal as they return to training.
If there is one definite weakness in Arsenal’s set up, it is their midfield. Though Wenger has persisted with it, since the start of the season, the pivot of Xhaka and Ramsey is a vulnerable one. While it does offer greater attacking potent, Arsenal has suffered because of it more than once defensively. On the other hand, Spurs possess one of the best midfield in the league. If Arsenal let Spurs bully them in midfield like they have against big teams, getting a result out of the match would be an uphill challenge.
The game will kick off at 12:30 PM Local time/ 6:00 PM IST.