We’re edging closer to the game every Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur fan looks out for when the fixture list is first announced in the summer. That’s right: the North London Derby. And despite being just 10 games into the season, the result of this one could be crucial to both clubs’ chances of Premier League glory.
As is often the case with the country’s biggest derbies, Ladbrokes News caught up with fans from either side to talk recent form, rivalries and match predictions!
Ladbrokes News: What’s been your highlight of this fixture in the past? Is there a particular game or goal that stands out in your memory?
Barnaby: The highlight was undoubtedly the 1991 FA Cup Semi Final 3-1 win over Woolwich when Gazza’s free kick from 96 yards burst through the hands of David Seaman and into the top corner.
Yes, this shows how old I am, but more importantly it put us on the way to our last FA Cup victory and stopped the South Londoners from winning the double.
Danny: November 16, 2002. The goal that Thierry Henry scored is one of the most famous in the history of this fixture in the Premier League.
Not many players can pick up the ball in their own half, run three-quarters of the pitch and take it past half the opposition’s players before sticking the ball in the back of the net. One of the greatest goals of all-time.
Ladbrokes News: Given that both Arsenal and Tottenham are flying in the league, would you say this is the biggest meeting between the two sides in recent years?
Barnaby: I actually think last year’s game at White Hart Lane was bigger, as we’d have gone top of the league had we have won, at least temporarily. And as well as bragging rights over our noisy neighbours that may have put Leicester under the kind of pressure they were never really put under in the run-in.
However, this is also a big game as Spurs are now on a run of six without a win in all competitions and Woolwich are seemingly finding ways to win every game. A win would be huge for either side.
Danny: I don’t think so, no. It’s still early days in the league so a defeat for either side wouldn’t be the end of the world in terms of their title chances. If anything I’d say the biggest game in recent years will be the second one of the season – as there will only be three games to go in the campaign after that.
But being a North London Derby, these games are always so important. It would still be a huge battle if we were both sitting in mid-table!
Ladbrokes News: It’s Arsenal who head into this fixture in the better form, with five wins from their last six matches in all competitions, while Tottenham have failed to win in that time. Will that have an effect on the players, or does form go out of the window on occasions like this?
Barbaby: Fingers crossed that Woolwich’s confidence will dip into complacency and that the Good Guys will be full of the aggression, desire and determination to right the wrong of our Champions League debacle against Leverkusen.
Danny: Form does go out of the window on days like this, yeah. But saying that, Spurs have struggled in front of goal while Harry Kane has been out of action. Their new signing Vincent Janssen has scored just one Premier League goal, too, and that came from the penalty spot.
Spurs have found the net twice in their last five outings in all competitions, while we’ve managed 15 in that time. I think that statistic alone will give the players the confidence to go out there and outscore their opponents.
Ladbrokes News: Between them, the Gunners and Spurs have nine clean sheets in the Premier League already this season. Does that point towards a low-scoring affair?
Barnaby: It’s hardly ever a low scoring affair in the North London Derby. It’s more likely to finish 5-5 than 0-0!
Danny: Hopefully not. I may be an Arsenal fan, but I’d much rather watch a 4-4 thriller than a 0-0! Spurs may be without Toby Alderweireld, and Moussa Dembele, which would be great news for us, especially if our back-five are fully fit. But clean sheets are rare in recent North London Derbies.
Ladbrokes News: Where can you see this one being won or lost? Is there a certain area of the pitch you’d be looking to exploit?
Barnaby: If Alderweireld and Kane are somehow fit again then Spurs’ spine will be strong enough to potentially win the game.
Without them playing though, it seems hard to see how Spurs will get a victory, but you never know.
Danny: The only way I can see Spurs scoring is from a Christian Eriksen free-kick, or possibly a fluke from Kane in the dying minutes if he comes off the bench.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have been scoring goals from all over the pitch – especially from out wide, while I wouldn’t be surprised if a little bit of magic from Mesut Ozil wins it for us. We’ve also got options in Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the bench, and they are both in a rich vein of form.
Ladbrokes News: Let’s mix things up a little, who’s impressed you this season?
Barnaby: Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are both world-class players.
Danny: Dele Alli is a great talent and he’s still only 20-years-old. However, his temperament can at times let him down though. Hugo Lloris is a fantastic goalkeeper and the partnership of Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen is arguably one of the best in the league.
I can’t believe you made me say this!
Ladbrokes News: Harry Kane looks set to return just in time for Sunday’s game. How much of a confidence boost is that for Tottenham, and how will Arsenal’s back-four deal with him?
Barnaby: If he’s 100% fit it could be absolutely vital. But I wouldn’t want Mauricio Pochettino to rush him back if it risks him getting injured again.
Danny: He isn’t match fit but I can still see him having a pot-shot or doing his usual by getting a goal off his face or backside! If he comes on we’ll definitely need to keep an eye on him, and we can’t let him turn us inside out.
Ladbrokes News: And finally, if you were to back one thing in particular happening on Sunday what would it be?
Barnaby: Goals, goals, goals, goals and goals! Plus over 2.5 goals is almost a given in a North London Derby. Get your money on it!
Danny: In the last five games between the two sides there have been 28 yellows cards, while 10 of the 14 goals scored have come in the second-half.
With that in mind I’d be looking at over 4.5 yellow cards, more goals in the second-half than the first-half and maybe even both teams to score.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing