For a few years now, Tottenham have overtaken their closest rivals to be the premier force in north London.
But ahead of the derby this weekend, and after their respective starts to the season, are Arsenal the favourites to prevail in this single fixture – and maybe even in the league table?
That was the vibe from the panel on the Totally Football Show this week, particularly following the teams’ respective defeats to Liverpool and Newcastle last weekend. So which of those was more damaging?
“Definitely Spurs,” said Frida Fagerlund from Sportbladet. “I haven’t seen Spurs play well for a very long time. I was at Arsenal’s game against Burnley, and they played very well. Arsenal is probably the team with the better self-esteem, and Tottenham has a lot to show [in this game].”
That was compounded by Mauricio Pochettino’s quite surprisingly candid comments about the mood in the Spurs squad, but Frida reckons there was more to it than that.
“Everything he says, there’s a background story to it, especially when he said ‘I’m not the manager, I’m actually the coach.’ There’s something going on, and maybe it has to do with the Christian Eriksen situation – he was on the bench against Newcastle, but it now looks like he’s going to stay. It will be interesting to see how Pochettino manages that.”
Michael Cox concurred that all does not seem well in the Spurs camp.
“There’s a little bit of a hangover from reaching the Champions League final last season – it’s obviously very unlikely they’ll be able to replicate that and I think that’s weighing on the players.
“For all the talk about Eriksen and what they’re doing in attack, I think defensively they’ve been really bad so far. They’ve got a big problem at right-back: I know Kieran Trippier didn’t have a great season last time out, but Kyle Walker-Peters has looked quite shaky, they tried Moussa Sissoko there but I’m not sure about that. Jan Vertonghen hasn’t been playing and I think Davinson Sanchez and Danny Rose were guilty for quite a poor concession last week.
“I do think there are some holes in the side that Arsenal will be able to exploit, particularly after the way they attacked against Liverpool – they didn’t score until late, but I liked the way Nicolas Pepe attacked.”
Pat Nevin is looking forward to seeing all three of Arsenal’s big attacking talents in the same side.
“Are they going to play Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe at the same time? If you get all three attacking at the same time, that’s got to be scary. If I was Spurs I would be very worried about those three.
Even at the back, Pat reckons people have got things wrong about their new central defender, who he has watched every week for the last few seasons at Chelsea. “David Luiz had a couple of those games every season. He was never mentioned unless he made a mistake – it was a real ‘fake news’ situation.”
So who’s going to finish higher in the table, come the season’s end? Michael Cox put his head on the block: “Neither side have been impressive, but I would say Arsenal based on the season so far, although it’s only been three games.”
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