The North London Derby is upon us.
Sunday marks the 201st meeting between Arsenal and Spurs, a fixture in which the Gunners hold a sizable advantage over their rivals as they’ve won 82 compared to Spurs’ 65.
But that’s history. Presently the Lilywhites are top of the Premier League having won six of their 10 games so far and haven’t tasted defeat since the opening day reverse against Everton.
Spurs vs. Arsenal betting favourites:
- Spurs to win: 19/20
- Draw: 5/2
- Arsenal to win: 3/1
Arsenal, meanwhile, are much lower down the table and have lost three of their last five league games.
As we know, though, everything can and will change in a derby. The form book goes out of the window in these kinds of games (which is just as well from an Arsenal perspective).
So what is going to happen? We’ve had a look and come up with five predictions for Sunday’s North London Derby.
1. Spurs will line up like…
4-2-3-1: Lloris; Aurier, Rodon, Dier, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Son, Ndombele, Bergwijn; Kane
2. Arsenal will line up like…
3-4-2-1: Leno; Holding, Gabriel; Tierney; Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka; Aubameyang, Willian, Lacazette
3. Arteta will take no risks
Given where Arsenal are at right about now, there’s one of two ways Mikel Arteta can approach the game. Either he throws caution to the wind and tries to out-gun Spurs, to out-play them. To embrace the coach we all thought he’d be given his time playing for Arsene Wenger and working with Pep Guardiola. The other approach is for him to retreat, to channel former bosses David Moyes and Alex McLeish, to park the bus and play on the break.
We’d like to think he’ll do the former, but it’s far more likely that he does the latter, because as much as a 0-0 draw would be underwhelming right now, it would stem the bleeding in a big bad way and that is clearly Arteta’s priority. Yes, he has drilled his side to play proactive passing football, especially in the build-up phase, but it’s clear that his biggest concern is stabilising the Arsenal defence and making the Gunners much harder to play against.
So there is no chance he’s going to open up against Spurs and risk taking a beating in the North London Derby. Arteta knows that the famously demanding Arsenal could turn on him at any moment, and he won’t want to speed that process up by handing the old enemy a big win. So don’t expect any risks coming.
4. Kane to make the difference
Arsenal are one of Harry Kane’s four favourite opponents. The striker has 10 goals in 12 games against the Gunners; he’s only scored more against West Ham (11 in 13) and Leicester (16 in 10). The striker announced himself to the world with a storming brace in his very first derby, handing Spurs a 2-1 win and he’s never looked back.
Kane has scored against Arsenal at least once a season and he’s also only ever lost three derbies to the Gunners. He’s not put up any big numbers but he is a consistent producer of goals, so you can expect he will score at least one on Sunday. However as we’ve seen this season Kane can do more than just score and he is just as likely to pick up an assist (he has a league high nine) although given how low Arsenal are expected to defend it’s more likely to be a layoff for a long shot than playing Heung-min Son behind.
We think he’ll score, or maybe even assist; Harry Kane will be the difference in the North London Derby.
5. There will be a power shift
Eight points currently separate Spurs and Arsenal, and in a dramatic and drastic reversal of fortunes from a decade (and especially two decades) ago, it’s Spurs atop the Premier League and Arsenal languishing in mid-table.
This is the lowest Arsenal have been going into a league game against Spurs for 27 years, and back then it was just the second game of the season and an opening day defeat was their excuse for being so low.
Now the season is 10 games old and for seven of those 10 games, Arsenal have been basically rubbish. They were alright against Sheffield and Manchester United, and of course in their opening day win over Fulham too. Otherwise it’s been mostly miserable and they are now closer to the relegation spots (seven points) than the title (the aforementioned eight).
Meanwhile, Spurs are flying high. They’re playing cohesive and creative football with an organised defence and a lightning attack led by Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, the deadliest double act in the division, tearing through everyone (Son is second top-scorer in the league, Kane is outright top assister).
Spurs won the last north London Derby, a 2-1 Premier League victory in July, and will now be looking to confirm their dominance with another three points. Now, they haven’t won back-to-back derbies since 1992/93 when Clive Allen gave them a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane before goals from John Hendry and Teddy Sheringham led to a 1-3 win at Highbury on the final day of the season. Harry Kane wasn’t even alive when that happened. That’s how long ago it was.
2020/21 Premier League outright winners betting favourites:
- Man City: 9/5
- Liverpool: 9/5
- Chelsea: 11/2
- Spurs: 11/2
- Man Utd: 20/1
- Leicester: 50/1
- Arsenal: 100/1
All odds in this article are accurate at time of publication (16:00, 3/12/20). 18+ only. BeGambleAware.
As much as their positions in the table point to a shift in fortunes and power, if Arsenal were to win they’d close the gap to just five points. However, should Spurs win and extend the gap to 11 points, potentially driving Arsenal even further down the table if results go against Mikel Arteta’s side, then not only will it be a decisive and historic derby victory, but it could well be the beginning of the biggest shift in north London footballing power since George Graham transformed the Gunners into a defensive powerhouse in the mid-1980s.
In a sense Mauricio Pochettino had already swung the pendulum in Spurs’ favour by finishing above Arsenal in most of his seasons. But his North London Derbies mostly ended in draws, never putting back-to-back wins together and, trophy-wise, the Gunners were the more successful club during his tenure.
Right now north London is still tentatively red, but duck and cover sports fans, because the Spurs are marching on!