North London Derby: Arsenal vs Spurs PreviewPublished November 4, 2016
The form book
The first North London derby of the season is gearing up to be something special. Arsenal are coming off the back of a dramatic 3-2 win at Ludogorets that displayed them at their best and worst. Falling two goals behind in the opening fifteen minutes was embarrassing but the comeback showed steel and, in Mesut Ozil’s jaw-dropping winner, class. The Gunners have succumbed to banana skins like that in the Champions League over the last few years. Either they’ve turned a corner or it’s treacherous skin is further down the road.
Spurs remain unbeaten in the Premier League after ten games but haven’t won a match in any competition since ending Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten start as Manchester City boss. That’s a worrying run that has included three successive draws in the Premier League. Their biggest problem during this period has been a lack of goals, scoring just three in that period. The return of Harry Kane could change that. He’s going to be in the Spurs squad for this derby.
Ahead of the derby, let’s look at some key battles.
Harry Kane vs Mustafi and Koscielny
Harry Kane couldn’t have chosen a more tasty fixture to make his comeback in. The striker has been out of action for more than a month and can’t expect any favours from a defensive duo who have looked formidable at times this season. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have forged a solid partnership very quickly. It’s tough to get an inch with them. Just ask Diego Costa.
Victor Wanyama vs Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil is in magnificent form right now. Renowned for his assisting ability, the German playmaker has been a goal machine in the first few months of the season. He’s only one goal away from equalling his best ever tally. Such a creative force will need to be shackled and Mauricio Pochettino will hope that Victor Wanyama can be the enforcer he was against Manchester City.
Eric Dier vs Alexis Sanchez
Assuming that Arsene Wenger doesn’t opt to start Olivier Giroud in this game, Eric Dier’s biggest problem will be a devilish Chilean. Alexis Sanchez has looked like he’s back to his best in this campaign. Having performed well as a deputy to Toby Alderweireld, Dier will have his hands full here and Sanchez could capitalise on his uneasiness.
The likes of Kieran Gibbs and Santi Cazorla probably won’t be fit for the match but otherwise, Arsene Wenger has plenty of options. Olivier Giroud was summoned from the bench to undo Sunderland last week. He’s in good form and could start here. Toby Alderweireld is still out for Spurs and Erik Lamela is a doubt. Moussa Sissoko is still suspended.
Arsenal predicted XI: Cech, Monreal, Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneny, Ozil, Alexis, Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Spurs predicted XI: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Son, Kane