This weekend, we get to see our first North London Derby of the season. Arsenal and Tottenham have both shot out of the gate through the first ten matches of the season; and between them they’ve recorded just a single loss. Despite being undefeated on the campaign, Tottenham still find themselves behind the Gunners by a three-point margin, and fans at White Hart Lane will be hoping for a statement win on Sunday to get one step closer to their bitter rivals. Can Arsene Wenger navigate his way to another derby day victory at the Emirates, or is it finally Tottenham’s time to shine?
One man that could help Spurs’ chances is Harry Kane. The 23-year-old striker hasn’t made an appearance for the club since September 18th due to injury, but Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that he will at least be in the 18-man squad for the derby. While he hadn’t quite found his goal scoring boots before his injury layoff (two goals through five matches), Kane still provided Tottenham with an attacker that forced opposing defenders to keep a constant eye on throughout the match. Since his last match, Spurs have struggled in the goals department. In their last three matches, they’ve scored just twice and were even stonewalled against Bournemouth. While Vincent Janssen has shown promise, the Dutchman just doesn’t have the same ability that Kane provides. I doubt that Kane plays the full 90 minutes against the Gunners, but even with a brief cameo he can make a big difference.
Tottenham fans will be especially eager for a win this weekend after their lackluster run of form during October. After beating Manchester City 2-0 to start the month, Spurs decided to emulate the Sky Blues by going winless in their next six fixtures. That includes draws to West Brom (currently 16th in the league), Bournemouth and Leicester. On top of that, they were also knocked out of the EFL Cup at the hands of Liverpool. While they’re still undefeated in the league, they’ve dropped 10 points along the way. I guess on the bright side, their home and away records are identical, and they’ve even managed to score more away from White Hart Lane. A win at the Emirates is always going to be special for Tottenham, but this one, in particular, could prove to be just the momentum shift Spurs need to replicate their title push from last season.
Without a doubt, the man of the moment at Arsenal has to be Mesut Özil. The Bug-Eyed Magician delivered what could be the goal of the season midweek against Ludogorets in the Champions League, and he looks to be brimming with confidence going into this blockbuster fixture. Ever since his move to North London back in 2013, the 28-year-old has been looked to as Arsenal’s creative playmaker in the midfield, and while he’s frustrated fans during some brief spurts, there’s no doubting that he has the ability to turn the match on its head at the drop of a hat. During his three-and-a-half years at Arsenal, Özil has scored just once against Tottenham. I think that this is the match where he doubles or even triples that tally.
While Tottenham have been on a bit of a dry spell lately, Arsenal have been unbeatable. You have to go all the way back to seven-goal shootout with Liverpool in August to see their last loss in any competition. In their last three games alone, Wenger’s men have outscored their opposition 9-3. The Gunners currently sit tied with Manchester City and Liverpool for the most points in the league, and they’re only two goals behind City on goal differential for sole possession of the top spot. For some reason, November has always been a troublesome month for Wenger at Arsenal. During his tenure, November has yielded the lowest points per game average (1.6). Last season, this month saw the Gunners drop points against Tottenham (1-1), West Brom (1-2) and Norwich (1-1). Will Sunday’s derby be the start of another cursed month, or can Wenger replicate the Chicago Cubs and reverse the club’s fortunes.
As much as I love a good curse, I don’t think that Arsenal are going to let this derby slip through their fingers. They have all of the momentum in the world behind them, and an Özil playing with confidence is a terrifying thing to go up against. Final score Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham