There is a huge game for football fans to look forward to in the Premier League tomorrow, as the first North London derby takes place. Spurs will be looking for the points to stay top, while the Gunners will be hoping to get back to winning ways and ease the pressure on Mikel Arteta, writes OLUWAMAYOMIKUN OREKOYA.
There haven’t been many North London derbies in the past where Spurs have come in as the heavy favourites.
However, that will be the case tomorrow , as Jose Mourinho has his Tottenham side pulling in the same direction so far this season. Tottenham have lost just one game so far this season, with that defeat coming on the opening day against Everton. Since then, they have won six and drawn three. Mourinho’s side couldn’t be in better form coming into this fixture, as they have won four from five.
They have taken four points from six in their last two fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea. The draw came in their most recent fixture against Chelsea, as it seemed to be a game that neither side wanted to lose. However, it could have been a different story in the final moments of that game, as both Chelsea and Spurs missed glorious chances to take all three points from the game. Mourinho would have still been pleased with the point, as it means that his side come into this round of fixtures as the league leaders.
Mikel Arteta was heralded as the hero when it was revealed that he was to return to Arsenal as head coach. Three years of experience working as number two to Pep Guardiola got Gunners fans excited, but this season’s form so far has already indicated a shift of the fanbase against the Spanish manager. Arsenal have won just once in their last six games, and have struggled to score goals from open play throughout the season.
Only Burnley, Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion have scored fewer goals than the Gunners so far this season. The pressure began to build on Arteta last time out, as his Arsenal side were beaten by Wolves at the Emirates. The only bright spark from that game was a goal from Gabriel, which was the first time that they have hit the back of the net from open play in nearly eight hours. This will be a bigger challenge this weekend.
Jose Mourinho will see this weekend as an opportunity for his side to put down a marker for the season ahead. The Portuguese manager has never lost a game against the Gunners on the ten occasions that he has faced them, and won the previous match with Spurs last season. Harry Kane and Heung Min Son will likely be at the forefront of everything good Spurs do, and both stars could find the back of the net in a significant win for Tottenham.
Mourinho noted Mikel Arteta is a “talented” coach and that he would not be at Arsenal were that not the case.
Arsenal’s disappointing form this season has led some to question how much progress they have made since Arteta replaced Unai Emery, but Mourinho says their FA Cup triumph in August is evidence of his counterpart’s quality.
He told Sky Sports News: “He is a good coach. He is a talented coach. He won already an important competition in the first few months of his career; that we cannot deny.
“To be the Arsenal coach, you have to be good – if you are not good, you are not there.
“So yes, I think Mikel is a good coach but I want to respect the others – especially the others that I don’t know well and probably are also very talented.”
Legendary former Gunners frontman Ian Wright believes Arteta should drop “negative” Willian, urging the Spaniard to shuffle his pack in a contest that has a Gunners great feeling “afraid”.
“I’d try to throw something else into the mix, Reiss Nelson or even [Bukayo] Saka on the right.
“But Saka’s going to be on the left so I’d put Reiss Nelson on the right instead of Willian because we know what Willian’s going to do.
“For me he’s been a little bit negative with the way he’s been playing, a lot of backwards passing.
“You need somebody who can at least get back and progress the ball.
“If Saka can go and really put pressure on [Serge] Aurier, that’s where I think, if we’re going to get any kind of joy, then I think Saka’s got to go up there and put pressure on him, then [Granit] Xhaka can pull in on the left, just to put that body in there, then [Mohamed] Elneny should hold.”
Wright added on the tension that is building ahead of an eagerly-anticipated encounter: “Going into the north London derby, I’m always nervous about it simply because for me it is one of the best games, I enjoyed everything about it.
“And when I went to Arsenal it was the game which meant the most to the fans and at the time to the players because we had a lot of players who came through that derby from the age of nine or 10. This is the first one I’m going to where I am afraid.
“I’m afraid simply because of where Tottenham are at the moment and we can’t ignore where they are at the moment, they’re in the ascendency.
“This is as afraid as I’ve been for a north London derby as I’ve been for a while and they’ve got Mourinho managing them. He wants to embarrass us.”