It’s the big one. The North London Derby has returned.
For me, the North London Derby carries a sense of sheer panic, worry, excitement and suspense.
It’s the one game I look for when the fixtures are released and it’s the one game I dread all season long. It’s the fear knowing that however prepared Spurs are, however strong or powerful they may appear; this fixture wipes the slate clean and can emerge some true surprises.
The North London Derby really spiced up around 2010, the year Spurs performed and achieved a place in the UEFA Champions League. On the 14th of April (with a difficult run in) Spurs faced Arsenal at White Hart Lane. I remember this fixture as being a real shift in the usual Arsenal dominance (despite the 4-4 result in 2008 and 5-1 cup win). Spurs began the game so very strongly and youngster Danny Rose provided Spurs fans with one of the true classic Derby moments when he volleyed home a stunning effort to give us the lead. This was only bettered by Gareth Bale hitting home in the second half to give Tottenham a deserved home result over their rivals. The joy and screaming involved in such a game capitalises the power of the fixture and how passionately we Yids follow it.
To me this game is more than a Premier League fixture, its more than another game ticked off the list. It’s a Cup Final, it’s the bragging rights at work the next day and it symbolises the true spirit in which we all follow Football.
To me, the Derby is David Bentley hitting home from 40 yards, to me its Rafael Van der Vaart shooshing the Gooners, to me its Kyle Walker leaping with joy as he scored his low driven effort and to me its Aaron Lennon slipping round the keeper to gift us our latest victory of the noisy neighbours. The Derby provides the memories we shall forever cherish as fans, it’s the results everyone knows and no-one forgets.
Arsenal have not won on any of their last five league visits to White Hart Lane (D2, L3), losing their last two matches there 2-1. Their last victory at Tottenham was a 3-1 win on 15 September 2007, when Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice. Tottenham are seeking their 50th league win over the Gunners.
Spurs have netted 16 times in their 14 home league games this season. Prior to this weekend, it was the lowest tally in the top half of the Premier League table.
They are unbeaten in the 16 league games in which they have scored first this season, winning 13 of those matches. Of the 37 goals Tottenham have conceded in the Premier League, 20 have come in four games (home and away to Manchester City, plus away to Liverpool and Chelsea). According to Opta statistics, Tottenham have made 13 errors leading to goals in the Premier League this season, three more than any other side. Three of them came last weekend against Chelsea.
The Gunners have won only two of their last six league games (W2, D2, L2).
Defeat would see the Gunners lose three successive away league games for the first time since August-October 2011. The third game in that sequence was a 2-1 loss to Tottenham on 2 October. Arsenal have conceded 21 of their 28 goals this season away from home. They have kept only one clean sheet in their last seven away league games, conceding a total of 16 goals.
Injury wise, Mousa Dembélé (calf), Emmanuel Adebayor (knee/ankle) and Kyle Walker (groin) are doubts. Erik Lamela (thigh/back), Vlad Chiriches (back), Etienne Capoue (ankle) and Michael Dawson (hamstring) are out. Danny Rose and Gylfi Sigurdsson return for duty. For the Scum, Arsene Wenger’s injury-hit squad could take positives from the fixture in Germany, but they will be without Mesut Ozil for at least four weeks after the German midfielder picked up a hamstring injury. Rosicky is likely to replace Ozil, while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny should regain his starting spot.
Predicted team: Lloris; Walker, Rose, Kaboul, Vertonghen; Sandro, Lennon, Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor, Soldado
Predicted score: I never predict the derby!
It’s the big one. Let’s hope we come out of it better off!