It is North London Derby (NLD) time in the Premier league as Spurs make the short journey to the Emirates. There is nothing quite as passionate and intriguing as a derby match. From the El Clasico in Spain, Derby della Madonnina in Milan, the Manchester Derby, Der Klassiker in Germany, the Merseyside derby, the Old Firm derby.
The North London Derby is certainly not an exception. With just 4 miles (6.4km) separating the Emirates stadium in Islington and neighbouring borough of Haringey where Tottenham are based, the rivalry is unprecedented.
It is about pride, history and tradition. It is the bragging rights for the fans, the players know what is at stake (the new players are quickly inducted on what a derby match means), managers understand that the match is more than the three points at stake, like Unai Emery found out in the 4-2 win in December 2018 – Emery’s best match since taking over as Arsenal Manager.
With just four games into the season and both teams smarting from loses, the NLD could not have come at a better time. Arsenal under Unai Emery look like a team struggling to find an identity while Spurs despite all the gloating and bragging rights have still not been able to dominate a NLD.
Spurs have been unconvincing in their first three matches of the season and the shocking defeat at home to Newcastle at White Hart Lane is a testament to that. The rumblings about the future of Christian Eriksen; Jan Vertonghen being dropped by Mauricio Pochettino and other players searching for form, will be a concern going into this game.
Arsenal have been undergoing a transformation process under Emery. The issue of an “Arsenal Identity” has been in the forefront since the Spaniard took over. The arrivals of Nichola Pepe, Dani Ceballos (albeit on loan), Kieran Tierney and David Luiz show that Unai Emery is being backed by the board. The onus now lies on him to deliver on the field.
A section of the Arsenal fans believed he gave too much respect to Liverpool at Anfield. Only a win today will soothe the nerves of those fans.
One thing you are sure of when it comes to the NLD is that it will be fierce, there will be goals (expect the odd penalty), scintillating football and the atmosphere will be turbo charged.
Harry Kane is the record goal scorer in the derby with 9 goals but expect Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – the joint top scorer from last season – to have a say today. He loves scoring against Tottenham. If Emery is brave enough to unleash PAL – Pepe-Aubameyang-Lacazette in this game, then we are likely to see a high score line with Spurs on the receiving end.
The mercurial Mesut Ozil is yet to feature for Arsenal this season but if Arsenal must return to its free flowing football, Emery must work-out a formation that puts Ozil as the leader of the Arsenal orchestra. His strength must be harnessed to the benefit of the team.
One thing you are sure of is that the derby has an endless capacity to surprise. It will be entertaining, suspense-filled and there will be goals.
#Arsenal #NorthLondonDerby #NLD #Tottenham
Bimboh Adekoya @Bimboh5 is an ardent Football lover an Arsenal supporter for over thirty years.