The gap between both sides in north London is closing year on year, with Tottenham Hotspur establishing themselves as genuine title contenders alongside local rivals Arsenal. And with just days to go until the first clash of the season between the two sides, Ladbrokes News are assessing the key areas of the pitch where this fixture can be won or lost.
We begin in the dugouts, where Mauricio Pochettino, a man who’s relatively new to this fixture faces north London derby veteran Arsene Wenger, who is preparing for his 49th meeting with Spurs.
Wenger’s experience could be key
Of those previous 48 meetings between the two sides under Wenger, Spurs have celebrated just seven victories to Arsenal’s 22.
And it’s that experience which could give the Gunners the edge heading into their biggest game of the season so far.
Add to that the fact that Spurs have tasted victory just once at the Emirates – that win coming back in 2010 under Harry Redknapp – and it’s easy to understand why Arsenal are favourites here.
However, Pochettino has just one defeat to his name against the Gunners since taking over at White Hart Lane, and it’s likely the Argentine will set his team out to frustrate Arsenal’s attacking line – meaning there could be some value in backing the draw at 5/2.
But we must not forget the curse of November which looms over the French boss. In his 20 years in charge of the north London outfit, this is by far his worst month in terms of points won.
Why? That remains a mystery. But Spurs fans will be quietly confident heading into this match.
And in case you were wondering in which month it was that Redknapp’s Spurs side recorded that win at the Emirates six years ago, it’ll come as little surprise to you to learn that it was in fact November.
Recent performances point towards stalemate
Arsenal fans will tell you that they now boast the strongest defensive unit they’ve had since their Invincible days, and in truth, that’s not a bad statement to make.
New signing Shkodran Mustafi is already forming a great understanding with Laurent Koscielny, while Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are establishing themselves as two of the best full-backs in the division.
Throw into the mix the reliable Petr Cech in between the sticks behind them and the Gunners have a back-five most clubs in the Premier League can only dream of.
That’s excluding Tottenham, though. Pochettino’s men conceded just 35 goals in the top-flight last campaign – a figure that can’t be beaten by any other side, and they’ve only shipped five goals this campaign.
And between them, the two teams have kept nine clean sheets in their 20 combined league games already this season, suggesting that there may be some value in backing a first 0-0 draw between Arsenal and Tottenham since 2009 at 11/1.
Number 10’s could be crucial
All eyes have been on Dele Alli this season, as fans and pundits alike are out to see whether the England international can replicate the kind of performances that saw him force his way into the PFA Team of the Year last campaign ahead of Mesut Ozil.
And so far, the 20-year-old has not disappointed, scoring three goals and creating 18 chances in 10 Premier League games this year.
However, in Mesut Ozil, Arsenal have the best number 10 in world football, according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
The Germany international has added goals to his game this season, too, scoring seven goals in 13 appearances in all competitions.
In fact, the ‘Assist King’ has even started setting himself up, as his incredible goal against Ludogorets this week showed.
Super-subs could have final say
Such is the depth of attacking talent at Arsene Wenger’s disposal, he could be heading into this fixture with last season’s top goalscorer Olivier Giroud starting on the bench, while Spurs striker Harry Kane will probably feature at some point after just returning from injury, although he’s unlikely to start.
So this fixture may well be decided by one of these two strikers, who between them scored a staggering 50 goals in all competitions last campaign.
Think there’s an even bigger battle on the pitch this Sunday? Have your say in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing