Premier League 2018-19: Arsenal v Tottenham, Preview and Prediction
The North London derby is without a doubt one of the standout fixtures on the footballing calendar, not just in England but in Europe and around the world too. Both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur come into this game in good form and the pair have a realistic shot at qualifying for the Champions League at the end of the season.
The first North London Derby at the Emirates in a number of weeks gets underway this weekend, and it promises to be an early Christmas cracker.
Vorskla 0-3 Arsenal (Europa League)
Arsenal rested almost their entire first team for the trip to Ukraine on Thursday, but the Gunners ran out comfortable winners nevertheless. Emile Smith Rowe got the opener after ten minutes, the youngster ghosting into space in the box and finishing with aplomb. The second came just before the half-hour, Aaron Ramsey being tripped in the box after some trickery and duly converting the penalty. The contest was all but over just before the half-time whistle, Joe Willock running through on goal and coolly slotting into the far corner to make it 0-3.
The second half was a more even affair, but the away side still held the advantage, although they couldn't make it 4 goals.
Tottenham 1-0 Inter Milan (Champions League)
Tottenham kept their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages with a deserved win against Inter Milan at Wembley.
Spurs dominated the first period but crucially couldn't score, thanks in part to some excellent goalkeeping from Samir Handanovic. Chances kept coming in the second half, not least for Jan Vertonghen, whose header somehow missed at the far post. With time running out, and Inter growing into the game, Tottenham took the lead, thanks to Christian Eriksen tapping in after excellent work from Moussa Sissoko. With Barcelona away being their final match, Spurs have a lot of work still to do, but they are still in with a shot.
After resting almost all of their first team players for the trip to Ukraine, Unai Emery has a nearly fully-fit squad to choose from on Sunday.
Alexander Lacazette should be fit after missing the game against Bournemouth last week and the Frenchman could start up front. This will move Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out to the wing. Mesut Ozil was dropped for the Dean Court game but the German’s playmaking abilities are too good to ignore for a clash like this. Only Rob Holding should remain from Thursday night.
Spurs retain a similar line-up to their Champions League clash with Inter Milan on Wednesday night, but Pochettino is bound to make some changes to keep his side fresh.
Erik Lamela had a decent game at Wembley, but the Argentine might miss out to accommodate Eric Dier’s inclusion into the midfield, the latter being vital in a match like this. Danny Rose will be fit for this clash, but I believe he’ll be eased into the squad rather than thrown in at the deep end, so Ben Davies should retain his place at left-back. Elsewhere, it’s the same eleven which beat Inter, but don’t rule out Heung-Min Son being featured somewhere in the attack.
Key Player: Harry Kane
Harry Kane was originally written off as a one season wonder by some sections of Premier League fans, but he's prolifically proven the doubters wrong. The England captain will be hard to contain for the Arsenal defence, his aerial prowess and physicality making him very hot to handle.
With Spurs being away from home, a lot of their counter-attacking moves with be through Kane, as he sits up top and ready to pounce after periods of Gunners pressure. Whether he's scoring or assisting, the Hurricane will definitely be one to watch.
The Biggest Game in London
Despite what some pundits insist, Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur is the biggest London derby. Until the last five years or so, the Gunners performed better in the league year after year, but that's changed in recent times.
Spurs have developed using their excellent academy and a manager that loves to promote young talent into the spotlight, while Arsenal had stagnated under Arsene Wenger. However, with Unai Emery at the helm for Arsenal, there's new life being breathed into the Emirates side and much optimism around both clubs. With Tottenham in 3rd before this weekend's play and Arsenal in fifth and just three points behind, there is a lot to play for.
When the top 4 is decided at the end of the season, this and the reverse fixture could be looked back at as crucial in deciding who plays in the Champions League and who drops into the Europa League.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham
Arsenal could edge this one, so could Tottenham, but I don't believe either will and it'll end in a tie. With it still being relatively early on in the season, and with tactics attempting neither to lose the game playing a part, I think a draw is on the cards. Predicting the result of this game, though, is like trying to guess tonight's lottery numbers. You could get it right, it is possible, but anything is possible and you should really expect the unexpected. If I had to come off the fence, with Arsenal having the home advantage, I'd give them the edge, but it'll definitely be a close one.
Arsenal Win: 13/8
Tottenham Win: 7/4
First Goalscorer: Kane 10/3, Aubameyang 10/3