It feels like ages since Tottenham Hotspur last played, but thats what happens when you support a rip-roaring side. After defeating Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley, eh hem, after TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR CRUSHED REAL MADRID 3-1 IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AT WEMBLEY STADIUM, Spurs secured a gritty three points against a resurgent Crystal Palace. It was another amazing week for the club in what is already a memorable first half of the 2017-18 campaign.
Spurs head to the Emirates taking twenty-three points in their first eleven matches and, with Manchester United’s loss to Chelsea last match-day, have drawn level with the Red Devils again in second place, though United are still are ahead of Tottenham via goal differential. Spurs trail league leaders Manchester City by eight points, lead fourth-placed Chelsea by one point, and are four points clear of both Arsenal and Liverpool.
The North London Derby is one of football’s great rivalries, but the tone of this fixture has shifted this year. There have always been games and even years where Spurs were favorites over Arsenal and its hard to pinpoint a time in the last decade where Tottenham were, on paper at least, completely overmatched, but never has the direction, promise, and even prestige of the two clubs been hurtling in such opposite directions. One knew that Gareth Bale would handle business against the Gunners in March of 2013, but it wasn’t clear that that victory, and even finishing above Arsenal that year if it had happened, would swing the transfer market and opinion of world football to the favor of the boys from White Hart Lane. This year really is different. For the third consecutive season Tottenham have a significantly better squad than Arsenal and the foundations for a bright and sustainable future in place. Arsenal are the underdogs, not just on the day, but for the coming years ahead.
To an extent, Arsenal found some form in October, but that was extinguished with their 3-1 loss to City. They secured a 0-0 draw against Chelsea, which is a good result, but other than that, their performances haven’t been overly impressive. In their other biggest fixture of the season they lost to Liverpool 4-0 and have dropped three points in poor fashion to the likes of Watford and Stoke. They’ve still racked up nineteen points, but outside of the Chelsea result, nothing really stands out.
Alexandre Lancazette, Arsenal’s record breaking summer signing, has six goals and twelve appearances on the year, but hasn’t been the true difference maker that his price tag would suggest. Causing controversy, he didn’t start against City or Liverpool leaving many to believe that there is a lack of trust between he and Wenger. With Olivier Giroud sidelined for Saturday though, the French national will have his shot to make an impact. Alexis Sanchez remains a world class talent, but is going through the motions under Wenger and surely will be gone in January. Mesut Ozil is mercurial, sometimes, but also lazy and invisible at times too. That said, these three, on their day, can cause fits to any backline.
Arsenal is bolstered by Granit Xhaka who is the fulcrum of their central midfield, though his form has been questionable this campaign. The squad’s weakness though continues to be its defense . The Gunners have bled sixteen goals this season already, which puts them in thirteenth place in the Premier League. That is a really bad stat and says a whole heck of a lot about the teams character. They actually have four shutouts this year, but when they concede, they often give away goals in droves. If Spurs can unhinge their defense early, it could be a high scoring affair for the lilywhites.
With all of these observations though, it is a North London Derby. If each club could say one nice thing about each other, its that no matter the roster, nor form of the club, each team brings it each year in these fixtures. They are absolutely terrifying, nauseating, and exhilarating affairs for the supporter, but that what makes them a lot of fun. When fixture lists come out, one immediately finds the date of the first North London Derby. It is here. COYS.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday 12:30 p.m. (UK), 7:30 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: The Emirates, London, UK
Official: Mike Dean
TV: NBCSN (NBC Sports Live Extra), Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Go UK, BBC Radio (UK), TSN4, TSN3, TSN 1, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Toby Alderweireld is expected to be out through the Christmas period and that is awful news. Victor Wanyama joins him on the injury list as he continues to rehabilitate his knee. Outside of that though, Spurs have a clean bill of health and that includes one Mr. Erik Lamela who is finally back after a year absence. Its incredible news for him and great to see him back.
Poch will stay in the 3-4-3 and simply shift Eric Dier into Alderweireld’s position. The only two real questions are who he pairs in central midfield and who he prefers at left-back. Ben Davies has had a great campaign and deserves all the praise he’s received, but Danny Rose has been training with the first team long enough where he can rightfully be considered to start in that spot. I think Poch will stick with Davies, as he has done little to lose the position, but its something to monitor. Top Danny Rose is better than top Ben Davies, so we will see. In the center of the park, with Dier moving back to defense, the sensible pairing is Harry Winks and Moose. Maybe Moussa Sissoko is in consideration or even Dele or Christian dropping back to pave way for Sonny to start, but I think the Winks-Moose combos allows the most well-rounded play of those combinations.
As such, Hugo starts in net with Dier, Sanchez, and Vertonghen across the back three. Winks and Moose start in center midfield, while Serge Aurier and Ben Davies play the wing-back positions. In the attack, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Harry Kane all start.
Pardeep Cattry nailed the 1-0 scoreline for the Crystal Palace match and vaults herself into a four way tie for second place. Eleven games through the Prediction League season and the pack at the tops remains tight!
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Table 2017-18
|Earl of Shoop||8|
Dustin Menno: Spurs are better than Arsenal. But it’s the North London Derby, so throw all that out the window. 2-2 draw.
Matthew Pachniuk: Haven't defeated the lesser half at the Emirates for a good long while. Lets change that. Spurs 2-1.
Jake Meador: It's at the Emirates. This worries me. 1-1.
GN Punk: The last few results at the Emirates have shown what we all know: It's not easy to win there. Spurs are a really good road team, though. Hesitantly, I'll go with the good guys. 2-1 Spurs.
Ed F: Lads, it’s Arsenal. 3-1 Spurs.
Early of Shoop: The NLD always makes me incredibly nervous, and never more so than when we're favorites. On this particular occasion, I'm so nervous that I can't even think of something witty for you to ignore. Still, we win because we're better. Spurs 3-1.
Bryan A: TBD.
Pardeep Cattry: It might not be as easy some think it will be, but well rested Harry Kane and Dele Alli should help. Tottenham 2-1.
Salmon Chase: Is Arsene fired yet? 3-0 Spurs.
Joe Patrick: 2-1 Spurs. Everything will seem fine and joyous until they get one back ~80', at which point we sweat out the the last ten minutes while nervously huffing down cigs.
Alex Greenberg: I’m probably just being naive, but this is going to be the day we clearly step out from their shadow. 3-0 Spurs and it’ll trigger a hell of a party.
Joel Wertheimer: Normally I worry about overconfidence. Arsenal are actually pretty good and are probably the 5th best team in the Prem right now. It's at the Emirates. Toby is hurt and Eriksen just played his heart out this week to send Denmark to the world cup. It won't matter. Spurs are a stylistic nightmare for this Arsenal squad, and Spurs will run them off the pitch. 3-1 Spurs.
Nathan Giannini: I stupidly booked a flight that will take off around the 85th minute of this match, meaning I will spend 4+ hours asking myself "do you actually want to pay $8.95 to get Wi-Fi just to check the result?" The answer, after much cursing, will obviously be yes. So it better be a good result. 2-1 Spurs.