Can Arsenal overtake Tottenham in the North London battle?
It’s a battle that’s intensified tenfold in recent years as Tottenham Hotspur have continued to push for a top-four spot while Arsenal have drifted away from genuine sustainable title challenges since their Invincible campaign back in 2003-04.
And while Gooners narrowly won last summer’s north London bragging rights, it’s their neighbours that are leading the way so far this season, albeit by just one point. So could this finally be the year that Spurs finish above their closest rivals?
Granted, it’s a tough one to call so early in the season, but Ladbrokes News have assessed the starts both sides have had. We’ll leave you to decide who’ll finish on top come May!
Last year’s eventual runners-up haven’t had the best of starts this time out, losing 4-3 to Liverpool on the opening day before drawing 0-0 with Leicester and edging past Southampton thanks to a last-minute penalty from Santi Cazorla.
But they have won their last two on the bounce in the league, and that goalless draw with Leicester may have raised a few eyebrows this time last year, but they are the reigning Premier League champions after all.
A hard-fought 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the week is just the confidence boost this side needs heading into Saturday’s game with Hull City.
And a victory against this season’s over-performers will see Arsenal leapfrog title-chasing Manchester United and (more importantly) Tottenham – for 24 hours at least.
They’ve hardly been outstanding up to this point, but winning and playing badly is the sign of a strong team, isn’t it?
Draws against Everton and Liverpool and wins against Crystal Palace and Stoke City mean Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unbeaten thus far in the league.
But while last weekend’s resounding 4-0 win in Staffordshire seemed like the perfect preparation for Spurs’ opening Champions League tie against Monaco, Harry Kane and co struggled to get going in the week, and ended up losing 2-1 to the Ligue 1 leaders as a result.
All eyes will be on the north London outfit when they welcome Sunderland to White Hart Lane on Sunday, and Spurs will be desperate to get back to winning ways.
New signings yet to settle
For much of the transfer window business in north London was worryingly quiet. Arsenal had been linked with just about every player in Europe while Spurs struggled to get deals over the line. But between them, the two sides ended up welcoming ten new faces.
However, of those arrivals, none have made a real impact as of yet.
It’s still early days, but Gunners fans will be hoping the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez will settle sooner rather than later, while Vincent Janssen and Victor Wanyama are just two names who face pressure to prove their worth.
It’s a general rule of thumb that when Mesut Ozil plays well, his teammates follow his example. His influence last season was key to Arsenal’s second-place finish. If he can match the levels he reached in 2015-16, they have every chance of going one better this time out.
Likewise across the city, Harry Kane’s role will once again be pivotal to Tottenham’s success. Keep him fit and get him scoring consistently again, and this may finally be the year Spurs surpass their most fierce of rivals.
Of course domestic glory is priority, but failing that, an Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur fan would be lying if they told you they weren’t bothered where their rivals finished.
So, in the battle for bragging rights, which side will win? Can Wenger pip Pochettino to the post once again? Will Spurs widen the gap further? Will it come down to how the new boys perform?
Have your say in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.