It’s that time of the year again – another North London Derby is about to happen and fans of Arsenal and Spuds are anxious to see whether the healthy tradition of Arsenal teaching Spuds a valuable lesson about the natural order will be respected.
It’s interesting how things change in just thirteen months. Prior to this fixture in September 2013, Spuds were considered by a lot of people as the favourites for the clash – they had spent over hundred million pounds to sign replacements for Gareth Bale who was yet to sign for Real Madrid. Arsenal – by that time – had signed Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer. Spuds had won two opening matches before the NLD and wanted to keep the run going but Olivier Giroud’s clever strike left them stunned. We should have scored at least one more time but Lloris was the best player of the visitors. In the last minutes of the game, Roberto Soldado could have scored a goal that might have changed everything; not just how the Arsenal and Spuds seasons would go from that point but also his own. His shot that was destined for the net was blocked thanks to the brave Giroud’s intervention. Only a day after that victory we signed Özil and went on to win the first trophy in nine years (FA Cup) while the Spuds had one of their worst campaigns in years that included three defeats to Arsenal without scoring a goal. Roberto Soldado was renamed Roberto Soldado (pen) as his only successful efforts were those from the spot.
We haven’t been beaten in the league since April’s visit to Goodison Park – we have won seven and drawn three since that defeat. Our form in the league this season have left a lot to be desired though – we haven’t had the best defensive campaign so far and sometimes our attacking play looks like it lacks mutual understanding between the players. Still, we have averaged two goals per game so far.
Spuds have lost two games so far – both of them at home (Liverpool and West Brom). They have beaten West Ham (despite being a man down for half an hour and conceding a penalty) with Eric Dier’s goal in the last minute of the game; and an awful QPR side (4:0). Their away form (W1 D1 L0) simply asks for a defeat and hopefully that will happen today.
Nacer Chadli leads their scoring charts with three goals. He is a winger who had missed a sitter in our last clash – Laurent Koscielny prevented an equalizer after Wojciech Szczesny’s mistake. Emmanuel Adebayor is the most controversial person in this derby – he has played for both sides and scored a lot of times. His best goal in an Arsenal shirt came against the Spuds in our 3:1 victory at White Hart Lane. He also scored the opener two seasons ago before he got himself a direct red card. Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris were heavily connected with Arsenal in the past, Lloris even after signing for the Spuds.
Szczesny will certainly return to the team. He likes the NLD and will be thrilled to have some new material for mocking Spuds on the social networks.
Calum Chambers is a safe bet for our right full-back despite Hector Bellerin’s excellent performance against Southampton in the mid-week clash.
Per Mertesacker has scored two goals in North London Derby – both in 2012-13. He’ll try to add to his tally at set-pieces but the most important thing for him is to keep our goal safe.
Laurent Koscielny should help our BFG. Kos has been the cause of so much frustration for the Spuds during his Arsenal career – Koscielny’s goals have secured two celebrations of St Totteringham’s Day already and perhaps it’s time for Kos to score one against the Spuds in a direct clash.
Kieran Gibbs returns to his position as well. He was excellent against Aston Villa and will try to provide width for our attack.
Mikel Arteta will probably start in the middle of the pitch again. Perhaps a penalty will be given to us so he can get his first goal of the season.
Alexis Sánchez is going to be the biggest threat to Spuds’ goal again. His pace, never-surrender-attitude and directness will be too much for the Spuds today.
Mesut Özil is about to make his NLD debut as he didn’t feature in any of our three victories over the Spuds last season. We expect pin-point passes from him and to build on that great performance at Villa Park.
Aaron Ramsey got a bit of a rest against Southampton which means he should be prepared for the NLD. He didn’t have the best of performances against Villa but against the Spuds he should prove his worth one more time.
Santi Cazorla has scored against the Spuds in two matches at the Emirates – he gave a MoTM-performance in our 5:2 victory in 2012 and fired in the opener in our FA Cup victory in January this year.
Finally, Danny Welbeck was on the Spuds’ radar this summer but opted for a team that plays in the Champions’ League. After all, unlike Spuds, Arsenal have won the league after colour TV was invented! Welbeck might get his first goal at the Emirates today.
Head to Head
Premier League (EPL) 16 Mar 2014 Tottenham 0 – Arsenal FC 1
FA Cup (FAC) 4 Jan 2014 Arsenal FC 2 – Tottenham 0
Premier League (EPL) 1 Sep 2013 Arsenal FC 1 – Tottenham 0
Premier League (EPL) 3 Mar 2013 Tottenham 2 – Arsenal FC 1
Premier League (EPL) 17 Nov 2012 Arsenal FC 5 – Tottenham 2
Chambers Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Alexis Özil Ramsey Cazorla
Arsenal 3 v 1 Tottenham