Arsene Wenger was bullish ahead of the North London derby this Sunday, but can Arsenal end Tottenham Hotspur’s unbeaten run and add to their misery?


The Arsenal manager emphasised the need for his team to win the big games, saying in his pre-match press conference (via ESPN): “This is more than a derby. It’s an important game for us because it’s a big home game and we have an opportunity to show that we have an interesting role to play in this Premier League, and that we can win these kinds of games. We go into a period where we play big games and we want to win the big games.”

Arsenal are on a 15-match unbeaten run, which includes an impressive victory over Chelsea, a 6-0 thrashing of Ludogorets, but also a disappointing 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough.

Arsenal are also facing a mini injury crisis, with midfielder Santi Cazorla set to miss out, and Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Hector Bellerin all facing late tests ahead of the game. This hasn’t stopped Arsenal’s progress though, with Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and the returning Olivier Giroud all in fine form.

Tottenham Hotspur remain the only team unbeaten in the league, but have disappointingly drawn five out of their ten games so far this season. They also lost to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in midweek, which has left them with an uphill task of qualifying for the knockout stages.

It is clear that this Tottenham team is currently low on confidence, especially after the defeat on Wednesday. They have been resolute enough thus far this season, with one of the meanest defences in the Premier League, but they are coming up against what is one of the best attacking sides in the league.

FILE PHOTO - (EDITORS NOTE: COMPOSITE OF TWO IMAGES - Image numbers (L) 609115656 and 602278616) In this composite image a comparision has been made between Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal (L) and Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur meet in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on November 6, 2016 in London. ***LEFT IMAGE*** NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Nottingham Forest and Arsenal at City Ground on September 20, 2016 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Britannia Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal (L) and Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur meet in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on November 6, 2016 in London. . (Photo courtesy – Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

A victory for Tottenham will take them level on points with Arsenal, but a victory for the Gunners will mean that the gap between the two will double itself and extend to 6 points. While this is still not a huge gap, the result itself could be a lot more significant than the points earned.

Arsenal have the home advantage, but if Spurs get an early goal, the negativity around the Emirates — seen in fan protests against Wenger earlier this season — could return and add to the pressure on the Frenchman and his players. However, the Gunners have also shown a maturity when starting games which makes it unlikely that Spurs will be able to score early.

The steady partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny has contributed to a resolute Arsenal defence — a significant improvement on the opening day of the season, when youngsters Rob Holding and Calum Chambers played the full 90 minutes at centre-back.

Tottenham’s inability to win games, coupled with Arsenal’s resolute victories against Sunderland and Ludogorets, mean that the signs point towards an Arsenal victory on Sunday. Arsenal have also won 9 of their last 10 games, while Spurs have only won 5, so the Gunners are clearly in better form at present. A positive result for the Gunners would go a long way towards easing doubts about a sustained title challenge.

A victory could provide a good springboard for Tottenham to turn their season around, but it looks very unlikely that they will be able to get the three points. Arsenal are the clear favourites, and it looks like Spurs’ poor start to the season is set to continue.

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