It’s a bumper weekend of Premier League action as the North London derby is just one of a few great fixtures. Who will take the honours, Arsenal or Spurs?
The Gunners will be aiming to continue clawing their way back up the Premier League standings, while Tottenham Hotspur will be desperate to rebound from back-to-back 3-0 defeats, when these two teams clash on Sunday.
After an embarrassing start to the season that left the Gunners on the receiving end of criticism and ridicule, there has been somewhat of a recovery.
Martin Odegaard’s pin-point free-kick handed Arsenal a 1-0 victory at Burnley last weekend, which came on the back of another 1-0 win over Norwich City, and offered a reprieve to manager Mikel Arteta after Arsenal had lost their first three games in the league.
“We are building some leadership in the group,” said Arteta before Wednesday’s tie against third-tier AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the League Cup.
“Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, rhythm and the way he presses.”
The Gunners have now also kept two consecutive clean-sheets after conceding nine goals in their three defeats, and lie 13th on the League standings, but there is still plenty of pressure on Arsenal to front up when bigger challenges present themselves.
Arteta – who had reportedly been given four games to save his job after the last international window – suggested there was some appreciation starting to build between the players and supporters after the Burnley game.
“There was some connection building. The players have to show that appreciation and gratitude,” Arteta said. “That only brings more cohesion, more connection and closer relationships — that will strengthen the team for sure.”
Similarly to Arsenal, pressure is rapidly building on Spurs after heavy defeats to Crystal Palace and Chelsea in their most recent League games.
There is an opportunity to build some momentum when they face Wolves in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, with plenty of attention remaining on striker Harry Kane, who has looked a shadow of his former self.
The “attacking and entertaining football” promised by chairman Daniel Levy has yet to materialise for Tottenham, and head coach Nuno Espirito Santo has not denied there are a number of troubles facing the club.
“Problems are the situation, the momentum we are in, problems are what we suffered during the international break, problems are the absence of players, problems are levels of performance, problems are we concede goals from set-pieces and that we could not sustain a good first-half (against Chelsea). So many problems that we have to solve.”
Tottenham have only scored one goal from open play in the League, and have netted just three times in total, but should view this fixture against Arsenal as an opportunity to rediscover some goal-scoring form.
“My message is clear: we are working hard, we are working very hard and the players are committed to it,” Santo commented this week. “Our reaction to our problems is hard work, it’s helping each other. It’s how I work, with everybody involved. This is the right path for us.
“We have to find the balance. We have to find the balance in our game. With the talented and quality players we have, when they start to gel I’m positive it’s going to be good. Playing good is always the balance between the two boxes.”
Sunday’s match at the Emirates kicks off at 5:30pm.