One of the best things about the Premier League is the rivalries between clubs - and the 2nd game on Sunday sees one of the oldest and most famous derby games in the world take place in North London.
Less than 10 years ago the North London derby was a battle simply for pride (such was the difference in standings between the clubs) – but this has now changed dramatically and over recent seasons the game has produced some fantastic (and pivotal) games whilst providing both teams with turning points in different seasons.
There is a lot more than pride riding on this game. But who will come out on top? Arsenal or Tottenham?
Despite the opening day blip against Aston Villa, Arsenal’s form is good with 3 wins from their last 4 games. They can score goals at home or away and have made a marked improvement on their defending from this point two seasons ago.
The current problem however (at the time of writing and secretly hoping that some action will have taken place by the time of publication) is the completely threadbare squad.
Arsenal are at the stage where another injury in any position will cause problems. The first part of the plan for the window was completed and that was that the deadwood was shipped out.
The problem is the lack of incoming signings to balance the squad – and that has left the squad “a bit short” according to Wenger (or “scarily short” according to the fans).
Arsenal are already seeing the effects of this and have a lengthy injury list just 3 weeks into the season (don’t panic though, Diaby will be “like a new signing” when he eventually returns). Following their midweek Champions League exertions – could a derby on Sunday be a step too far for Arsenal?
Now before you think that I’ve failed to mention that Tottenham have also played in midweek, it’s worth mentioning that Tottenham have substantially strengthened their squad this summer and have more players available.
Tottenham can rotate their starting line up to leave their players fresh for the derby – and that could well be key on Sunday. This season Tottenham have played 3 games and scored 7 goals whilst conceding none (correct before Europa League game).
Admittedly their two victories in the Premiership have come courtesy of penalties, but as the team continue to gel more they will prove to be much more of an attacking threat and some high scoring victories will inevitably emerge later in the season.
On paper, Tottenham’s team is stronger than ever before (with or without Bale – and yes I know that’s a strong thing to say) and they will challenge harder than ever before for a place in the top 4.
So. My verdict? I think that it is lucky for Arsenal that this game isn’t later in the season as I think they could really struggle once all of Tottenham’s signings click in and once Arsenal’s players start to tire (and get injured).
I still think Arsenal will get into the top 4 – but this certainly won’t be the season of change that Arsenal fans were hoping for. Just a bit more of the same.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1
image: © wonker