Match Preview: Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur - Could Arteta continue Arsenal's resurgence and condem Spurs to a third striaght loss?
ARSENAL VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
In a myriad of interesting fixtures this weekend in the Premier League, one particularly stands out. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs lock horns in the 190th North London Derby on Sunday night. The famed fixture produced spectacular moments in its hundred-year history. It divided families, opinions and interests between London for a couple of hours. Despite the demise of both sides, this still promises to be a mouth-watering fixture.
🔜 NLD. pic.twitter.com/bBnHus1BE5
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 24, 2021
Arsenal looks like a shadow of themselves. The club are in a massive transition stage and they have entrusted the young Mikel Arteta with the rebuild. The Spaniard has failed to guide Arsenal to European places for the first time in an eternity. To ease the humiliation, the Gunners have spent massively in the transfer market to rebuild. Yet a horror start awaited them. Arsenal were beaten to a pulp in the opening three fixtures as they let in nine goals without an answer.
Credit must be given to Arteta for keeping his head up and turning the situation around. Though they have recorded only two consecutive 1-0 victories, it lifted the mood. The players have given their all to keep clean sheets and have scored a key goal. Far from a finished product, they need to continue their form when their arch rivals visit them.
The opposite must be said for Tottenham Hotspurs. Having spent a summer amidst utter confusion, they found a solution in Nuno Espirito Santo. Though he was not their first priority, the Lilywhites had to adjust with what they got. Also, Harry Kane staying gave them a big boost along with the signings of Emerson Royal and Cristian Romero.
Tottenham won their three opening games 1-0 in the league. They weren’t playing their best football and yet walked away with three points. Just when things were starting to look bright, they were brought crashing back to the Earth. Crystal Palace and Chelsea inflicted humiliating 3-0 losses to end Nuno’s honeymoon. They must hope that Kane opens his account in the all-important game to steer them home.
Arteta experimented with multiple formations during his tenure. However, a stable four-man back is what is giving him solidity. Granit Xhaka’s suspension means that he has to deploy a young and inexperienced midfield to contain Tottenham. He has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from.
🗞 It's a positive update from our medical team ahead of the north London derby 👇#ARSTOT
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 24, 2021
Perhaps the biggest talking point in Arsenal’s lineup is the rise of Aaron Ramsdale. The English goalkeeper was brought in to play second fiddle to Bernd Leno at least in the short term. Yet it has only taken three games for Ramsdale to displace Leno and become the number one. This change in goal might have a huge knock-on effect on the defence in front of him.
Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga, Partey; Odegaard, Smith-Rowe, Saka; Aubameyang
Tottenham have mixed news on the injury front. While Son Heung Min is back to full fitness. But key wingers Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn are out for the game along with youngster Ryan Sessegnon. This has prompted Nuno to stray away from using wingers and use inside forwards to get the best out of his personnel.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 22, 2021
Tanguy N’Dombele was brought out of the dark once again. The French midfielder was set to leave the club after being frozen out of the squad. Yet, the midfielder marked his return with an energetic display in the league and even grabbed a goal in the League Cup. Harry Kane was used as an inside forward while Son is leading the line.
Lloris; Emerson, Romero, Dier, Reguilon; N’Dombele, Hojbjerg; Lo Celso, Kane, Alli; Son
The Norwegian breathed fresh air into the Arsenal side when he signed on loan from Madrid in January. His movement, creativity and end product were all that the Gunners were missing during that time. He helped them to a respectable finish in the league after missing out on European spots. However, the emergence of Emile Smith-Rowe cast a doubt on Odegaard’s return to the Emirates Stadium.
📐 From 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 angle…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 19, 2021
The Arsenal board still backed Arteta to sign Odegaard. Once again he looks set to be the difference maker. Odegaard is instigating chances for the Gunners and can bring Aubameyang back to life again. His dead play is just as dangerous as Burnley felt the effect of his left foot.
Tottenham’s midfield enforcer Pierre Emile Hojbjerg should keep an eye on Odegaard and prevent him from sneaking in behind.
It must be shocking that someone else from Tottenham is becoming the face of the team. Kane was the undisputed golden boy of media and the crowd alike. But the status went up into the air as he tried to force a move away to Manchester City. Though he stayed, his prominence is being overshadowed by his strike partner. Son and Kane formed a deadly partnership in the last season as they scored and assisted each other for fun.
Emerging out of Kane’s shadow, Son is showing he’s more than capable of leading the line. He scored winners against Manchester City and Wolves while playing as the centre-forward. Kane has since returned to the fold but failed to adapt. The English striker hasn’t had a touch in the opposition box against Crystal Palace and suffered massively against Chelsea as well. A half-fit Son was enough to spice up things against Chelsea.
Now returning to full fitness, he must pick on the Arsenal defence with Kane’s help. Tomiyasu on the right flank should track Son’s moment down the left wing as he tries to cut in from the wing.
Though both sides are in contrasting form, this game might go to the wire to get a result. Arsenal despite their wins look unconvincing and Tottenham have to work on their offensive gameplay to attack better. This is that type of game that would be won or lost in the midfield. If that’s the case, Tottenham clearly have a better midfield and might be the favourites to edge Arsenal.
🗣 "They are fully behind the team."
Mikel Arteta is looking forward to experiencing the North London derby in front of the Arsenal fans for the first time pic.twitter.com/wB2FHDkVue
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 24, 2021
Since it’s the North London Derby, the sparks would fly again as players lunge into tackles and try to get the intensity back.
FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 victory to Tottenham Hotspurs with Son and Kane making telling contributions.