Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League preview - 5 points to note in the first North London Derby of 18/19
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have been, for many decades, fierce rivals.
Of all the London rivalries, this is definitely the strongest, fiercest, and most intense.
Other London clubs, such as Chelsea and West Ham, despise Tottenham for various different reasons. But the overarching enmity exists between Arsenal and Spurs, due to reasons of history and geography.
For those who don't know the origin of the rivalry, the area of Tottenham in North London was is roughly 8-10 miles north of central London, and all the noted sights and attractions like the Palace of Westminster, Tower Bridge, etc. Arsenal was founded in Woolwich, about 6-7 miles east of central London, at the Royal Arsenal - a major munitions factory supplying the British armed forces. Woolwich Arsenal, as the club was named then, moved to its current locale near Islington in North London, and thus was "invading" Tottenham territory.
There also were allegations of corruption concerning the then Arsenal owner Sir Henry Norris, since Arsenal were promoted to the First Division, whilst Tottenham had finished higher in Second Division and in placement terms were more "worthy" to rise.
These injustices in Spurs' part caused a rivalry existing to the current day.
The successes of both clubs have also heightened the rivalry over the years, and occasionally at others' expense. Arsenal has won the league decisively at White Hart Lane twice - in 1971 and 2004 respectively. Tottenham won a noted victory over Arsenal in 1991 - with England legend Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne scoring a wondrous free-kick in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Arsenal won the FA Cup in 1993, and in the process gained revenge for the 1991 defeat by beating Spurs in the semi-final. And Spurs, in winning the League Cup in 2008, defeated Arsenal 5-1 in the semi-final, which to date was their last major trophy win.
As for this season, both teams are well-poised, both on and off the pitch, and Spurs arguably are the more balanced and organised between them.
Both hold potent attacks, strong midfields, and Spurs possibly are more secure at the back.
However, Tottenham hasn't won at Arsenal since 2010. And they've only won twice at Arsenal in Premier League history, and only three times since 1985. Clearly Arsenal holds dominance at home in this fixture, and the improvements seen under Unai Emery this season will factor.
There may be some key battlegrounds in this game, namely:
- Battle of the attacks
- The midfield crunch
- Can Emery "out-tactic" Poch or vice versa?
What's sure is that the game will be an intriguing one, full of top players, and between two capable sides.