Arsenal gear up for one of the most important North London Derbies in many years, as Tottenham aims to gain supremacy in this fixture.
Around this time last year Arsenal got a foothold on their season after a disastrous start. Goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka secured a memorable victory for Mikel Arteta for the first time in front of the Emirates crowd since becoming the club’s manager.
Things have changed drastically for the Gunners, sitting on top of the Premier League table after seven rounds of fixtures. Arsenal have six wins from those games, losing only to Manchester United at Old Trafford. They did recover from that with a more controlled win over Brentford before the international break.
That win also saw them register a clean sheet for the first time in four games, but Mikel Arteta knows the importance of the North London Derby up next. The Gunners will be targetting a win to stay on top of the table and avenge a defeat in this fixture from the tail end of last season, which saw them miss out on the top four.
Tottenham, meanwhile, have not been at their best this season, yet remain unbeaten in the league alongside Manchester City. Spurs are level on points with Pep Guardiola’s men and sit behind Arsenal in third. Antonio Conte will be eager to break the Gunners’ hearts with good performances to boost their chances of winning the Premier League title.
Tottenham have not played a game in a while, with their last coming in the Champions League, where Conte’s men suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Sporting CP. The manager will take that as a blip to their decent start to the season, but the Italian boss would like to see massive improvements with games coming thick and fast between now and the World Cup break.
Spurs have only one victory in 29 away outings against Arsenal, and Conte will be eager to improve that record this time. He will have a good setup for the showdown at the Emirates, as a positive result could shape their season. A loss to Arsenal usually has ramifications, but the Italian will be eager to avoid the same.
Team News & Tactics
Arteta has managed to keep much of the team news out of the Arsenal training ground under tight wraps. The international break saw many Gunners fans concerned with updates regarding fitness problems with their players.
Working for the weekend ?
?London Colney pic.twitter.com/7dusfwXEPx
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 27, 2022
Most notable is Thomas Partey, who only returned to the squad against Brentford. The Ghanaian suffered a suspected knee problem on international duty and was subsequently called back to London for further assessment.
Reports suggest the midfielder could be available, but Arteta will have to confirm the same via his press conference. Oleksandr Zinchenko is the other star who has concerns. The Ukrainian did not join up with his national team squad, although his fitness status remains unknown at the time of writing.
Kieran Tierney suffered a head injury and was called back to London Colney. If he can pass the concussion protocols, the Scotland international could be available for the NLD. Besides that, Takehiro Tomiyasu was also called back early due to a problem but is expected to be fit.
Emile Smith Rowe underwent surgery this week to solve a groin issue and will be unavailable until after the World Cup. Reiss Nelson is back in full training, and Arteta will have a strong squad to pick from for the clash against Tottenham on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3) – Ramsdale; Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
Conte refused to be drawn into naming a few of his stars who are a fitness doubt ahead of the NLD. The international break saw some of Tottenham’s key players pick up problems including Hugo Lloris and Dejan Kulusevski. The duo will likely not participate in the game, but Spurs have sufficient cover for them.
? “It's an important game for both teams, we want to play at our best”
Antonio Conte previews tomorrow's North London Derby on SPURSPLAY! ⤵️
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 30, 2022
Fraser Forster could replace Lloris, while Richarlison could be the natural replacement for Kulusevski on the pitch. Ben Davies remains a major doubt, although it looks like Clement Lenglet is preferred in the Welsh defender’s absence in the back three.
Conte will continue to fill a back three with Cristian Romero and Eric Dier the other candidates. Ivan Perisic, who was forced off with a knock while playing for Croatia, is reportedly available for the NLD. He may have to compete with Ryan Sessegnon for a spot at left wing-back.
Harry Kane is expected to lead the line for Spurs alongside Richarlison and Heung-min Son. In central midfield, Conte is expected to retain the partnership between Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur, with Yves Bissouma again an option off the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1) – Forster; Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Royal, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Perisic; Richarlison, Son; Kane
- Arsenal have won their last 6 home Premier League matches.
- Arsenal are undefeated in 26 of their last 28 home matches against Tottenham in all competitions.
- Arsenal scored at least 2 goals in their last 6 home Premier League games.
- Tottenham have won 8 of their last 10 Premier League matches.
- Tottenham have only defeated Arsenal once in 29 games away from home in the Premier League.
Player to Watch
The Swiss midfielder has been in top form this season, after a summer when many wanted the club to replace him. Xhaka has become a key man under Arteta this season, with visible improvements to his attacking game. He has already surpassed the numbers from the last few seasons and is one of Arsenal’s most improved stars this campaign.
His new role has made him a vital component in Arteta’s system, and he will look forward to wielding control of midfield activities. There’s an interesting-looking battle in the middle with Hojbjerg and Bentancur awaiting Xhaka. With his form, the Emirates crowd are firmly behind the Swiss star to overcome his adversaries.
Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham
The Gunners have not been given much credit for their efficient performances this term. They might be sitting on top of the pile after seven games, but the lack of quality opponents is often cited against them. With their only loss coming to Manchester United away from home, the Gunners could be assumed to make their mark at the Emirates.
Despite their opponents being the formidable Tottenham side, the Gunners are expected to take all three points against their bitter rivals. It may not be a star-showing victory they achieved last season, but this time it will be enough to keep Arsenal on top of the league.
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