The last couple of decades in English football saw a gradual power shift. We witnessed the emergence of a new Machester-based powerhouse in Manchester City, while a team from West London in Chelsea took control of the English capital.
North London lost its lustre significantly, with Arsenal’s last league win coming way back in 2004, while Tottenham Hotspur’s only trophy in this century is an EFL Cup triumph in 2008. However, when it comes to a Derby clash, trophies and league titles do not dictate emotions and sentiments.
Hence, when Tottenham Hotspur will take on Arsenal at their home ground on Sunday, 16th January, it will not merely be a clash between the fifth and sixth-placed teams in the points table, but it will be the 205th instalment of a historic, fierce and riveting rivalry, known as the North London Derby.
Spurs are currently placed in the sixth position in the standings, having won 10 of their 18 fixtures and accumulated 33 points. The Gunners are sitting right above them with 35 points in their account, but they have played a couple of matches more than their rivals and will need to win this match to safeguard their top five position.
Let us have an in-depth look at what we can expect from this North London Derby:
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Tottenham had a fantastic start to their 2021/22 Premier League campaign under the tutelage of former manager Nuno Espirito Santo, as they won all of their first three matches. However, it was followed by a nightmarish run that lasted seven games.
Spurs lost five of those seven encounters, which eventually led to the sacking of Santo. However, they have looked a much better side since the appointment of Antonio Conte as the manager.
Harry Kane & Co. are unbeaten in their last eight matches in the league, winning five of them. Having said that, they are coming into this match on the back of a frustrating 1-0 defeat against London rivals Chelsea in the EFL Cup, and will be eager to get back to winning ways.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST ARSENAL
Conte will miss three players in the North London Derby, with Heung-min Son being the most notable of the trio. The South Korean attacker is currently nursing a muscular problem and his absence is likely to force the 2016-17 Premier League-winning manager to switch to a 3-5-2 formation, with Harry Kane and Lucas Moura being the only available forwards. Dutch attacker Steven Bergwijn is also out with a calf problem.
Argentine centre-back Cristian Romero will miss this match owing to a thigh injury, but his defensive partner Eric Dier could feature after recovering from a muscular problem. Alongside Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies are likely to form the three-man backline.
Left wing-back Sergio Reguilon is also expected to feature in the starting XI after recovering from his injury, with Emerson Royal retaining his place at the opposite flank. Harry Winks, Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are expected to man the midfield.
Probable Playing XI (3-5-2): Hugo Lloris; Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Ben Davies; Emerson Royal, Harry Winks, Oliver Skipp, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Sergio Reguilon; Harry Kane, Lucas Moura.
ARSENAL IN PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Arsenal’s start was exactly the opposite of Tottenham’s, as they lost their first three matches. However, just when one would have thought Mikel Arteta’s days at the club are numbered, his team pulled off a commendable comeback with an unbeaten streak of eight matches.
The Gunners won six of those matches, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace restricted them to draws. A temporary slump in form saw them losing three of their next four fixtures, but it was followed by a streak of four consecutive wins.
Arsenal lost their last league clash against Manchester City by a 2-1 margin, while like their opponents, they too are coming into this match on the back of a cup defeat, as Nottingham Forest handed them a surprising 1-0 defeat in the third-round of FA Cup 2021/22.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
The list of absentees Arteta is dealing with is significantly longer than Conte’s, as ten Arsenal players will not be available for selection in this match. Four players in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are currently representing their nations in the 2022 Africa Cup of nations, while Martin Odegaard has returned a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.
Besides them, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe, Sead Kolasinac and Cedric Soares will also be unavailable owing to injuries, while Granit Xhaka needs to serve a three-match suspension after he was shown a red card in the EFL Cup tie against Liverpool.
With the Swiss midfielder suspended and Odegaard and Elneny unavailable, Arteta might be forced to play centre-back Ben White in a midfield role alongside Albert Sambi Lokonga, with the trio of Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli operating ahead of them.
The Spanish tactician is expected to field a four-man backline of Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney. Though young striker Eddie Nketiah was ineffective in his last two matches, a dearth of attacking options is likely to help him retain his place in the Arsenal starting XI.
Probable Playing XI (4-2-3-1): Aaron Ramsdale; Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney; Albert Sambi Lokonga, Ben White; Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli; Eddie Nketiah.
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