Arsenal will host Tottenham Hotspurs this afternoon at the Emirate Stadium in one of the most competitive derby in English football. For both teams, it is more than three points that is at stake as bragging rights is cherished by their fans. The Lilly White would want to continue the scintillating form so far this season while the Gunners would be craving to recover from the 3-1 loss to league leaders-Manchester City before the international break. The neutrals are in for a match to be enjoyed
The 184th North London Derby is soon upon us, and both Arsenal and Spurs will want to leave a mark on the other as they go head to head today. A win is a must for either side and yet neither may emerge victorious.
Recent trends have seen four draws in six games between the London clubs, and two victories for Spurs. However, Arsenal will look to set the record straight after finishing below Tottenham for the first time in 20 years last season.
The Gunners side barely look shaken by that fact and it simply is because they aren’t. Petr Cech’s recent interview stating that “Spurs have been there in the last few years so now I think they have to make sure they win something to show the progression“, shows his position on the supposed ‘change of guard’.
And it is banter like this that kicks off the week before any North London Derby. Years of dislike have made both sides capable enough to dish it out when needed. Sadly for Arsenal, the dishing out has not been happening much on the pitch recently.
A decent draw against Chelsea was followed by dire first half vs Manchester City. The Gunners’ ‘Big 6’ record has been erratic of late and they need to make sure that the fans are not demoralized after today.This is best occasion to keep the unbeaten home run going and give the fans a passionate showing against Spurs.
Of course, a passionate showing might not be as easy as it sounds given the presence of Mike Dean at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger’s comments last week about the referee at the Etihad have clearly not gone well with the FA. The appointment of the single most hated official for the Gunners surely is one way of punishing the manager.
Meanwhile, Wenger has dismissed the idea that Arsenal are underdogs for today’s north London derby against Tottenham.
The Gunners finished behind their huge rivals last season for the first time since Wenger took charge in 1996 and are four points adrift of third-placed Spurs already this term.
But Wenger denied the tide had turned to the extent that he considered his side the underdogs for the eagerly-awaited derby at the Emirates.
“Not at all. I think Tottenham is a good side but we have the quality to win this game and that is what we want to show,” said the Arsenal manager.
Wenger has a superb record in the north London derby and agreed that it is a fixture he always looks forward to.
“There is always pride involved, a desire to beat your opponent,” he said.
“You need to have full commitment, but as well be lucid enough and calm enough to focus on the game. It is one of the fixtures of course that is very important for us and that you want to win. Basically as well, in the table, we have to make some ground up with the top teams.
“At home we have been very strong and our home strength will certainly be vital to decide where we finish at the end of the season.”
Wenger said defender Shkodran Mustafi and forward Danny Welbeck will have fitness tests ahead of Saturday’s game.
But French striker Olivier Giroud is unlikely to be available after picking up a thigh strain while on international duty.
Meanwhile, Manchester United take on Newcastle at Old Trafford this evening hoping to get their title charge back on track.
United sit second in the table, but are eight points behind the leaders Man City after losing to Chelsea 1-0 before the international break. Newcastle meanwhile are in 11th place, nine points off United.
Jose Mourinho’s injury worries are beginning to thin out, but there are still various big stars unavailable. Phil Jones is the latest to suffer a knock and is a doubt, while the game will probably come too soon for Paul Pogba to return in time for. Carrick, Ibrahimovic and Rojo remain unavailable.
Newcastle could be without Jamaal Lascelles, who has sustained an ankle injury, and will almost certainly be without Atsu, Dummett and Merino.
Manchester United have won 22 and lost just one of their last 32 league games against Newcastle United at Old Trafford. Newcastle have lost 84 matches in all competitions against the Red Devils, more than versus any other side in their history.
However, Jose Mourinho’s side have lost two of their last three games in the Premier League, as many as in the previous 37 combined. But at Old Trafford, Man Utd are unbeaten in 22 Premier League games, winning the last six in a row without conceding.
Benitez has won four of his 13 previous Premier League matches against Man Utd as manager – only Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier and Jose Mourinho have won more against the Red Devils in the PL.
Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in nine goals in eight Premier League appearances against Newcastle United (five goals, four assists).