On Saturday, Nov. 18 one of the Premier League’s great rivalries will add another chapter to its storied history.
The North London derby pits Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal, and the animosity between the two clubs knows no bounds.
The result of Saturday’s match will have substantial implications for both clubs, as Tottenham desperately needs three points in order to catch Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, and Arsenal needs three points to reach the top-four and make up for their slow start.
Tottenham has looked impressive this season, as Mauricio Pochettino’s squad boasts a 7-2-2 record in the Premier League and are well on their way to winning their Champions League group. The club’s most impressive win of the season, and perhaps the best result during the Pochettino era, came against the defending title holders, Real Madrid. Tottenham dominated Zinedine Zidane’s team en route to an historic 3-1 victory, as the match saw Dele Alli return to form and net two goals.
The result secured Tottenham a place in the Champions League knockout phase and a decisive victory over Europe’s top club instilled confidence in Pochettino’s young team.
One of Tottenham’s more surprising developments this season has been the emergence of Harry Winks, a 21-year-old midfielder who grew up in the Tottenham Hotspur youth system. Winks has not looked the least beat out of place since taking over a starting role and provided a signature performance at Real Madrid that pitted him against Luka Modric, who is considered by many to be the greatest midfielder in the world. Winks has provided Tottenham with some much-needed energy and security in the midfield, as injuries have limited the minutes of Moussa Dembele and Erik Lamela, and Moussa Sissoko still has not proven himself capable of maintaining top form.
Harry Kane, Tottenham’s star striker, has picked up where he left off at the close of last season. Kane has 18 goals across all competitions this season, including eight in the Premier League. After some nagging leg issues limited him over the past few weeks, Kane’s fitness has confirmed for the Arsenal match this weekend, and his presence at the front will undoubtedly prove vital for Spurs.
Arsenal’s 2017-18 campaign could best be characterized as inconsistent, as they boast a mediocre 6-1-4 record, though they still boast a roster with as much talent as any side in the Premier League. Arsenal’s forward Alexandre Lacazette leads the club with six goals this season, and he has impressed throughout the season. His positive performances, however, have been magnified due to the lack of form from both midfielder Mesut Ozil and forward Alexis Sanchez. The pair usually provides the majority of Arsenal’s offensive creation, but this season both have appeared uninspired and ineffective. Transfer rumors surround Sanchez and Ozil at the moment, and both have turned in performances all year that decidedly lack desire and reflect an interest in continuing their careers elsewhere.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger desperately needs a positive result this weekend to try and salvage the season and his job, as Arsenal fans now almost universally desire a coaching change.
Wenger will require his despondent stars to find some motivation if he wants his club to compete with a Tottenham group entering the fixture with supreme confidence.
This fixture of the North London derby features no shortage of narratives, and both sides recognize its importance both in terms of pride and standing within the league. The enmity that each club harbors toward the other will appear on the pitch and in the stands throughout the match, and the result of this emotional match will reverberate across London and the Premier league.