Light the blue touchpaper, it’s time for the North London Derby again. But this time there’s an extra layer of spice, with both sides at the top of the table for their long-awaited clash.
Arsenal lead the pack after a stellar season in which they have won six out of seven games – their only loss to Manchester United – while Tottenham are third and just one point behind their rivals after an unbeaten campaign so far.
Mikel Arteta’s men have come a long way since being snatched into the top four by Spurs in May after losing 3-0 in a crucial game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. their destiny to endure another season without Champions League football.
The rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham is at its strongest in nearly 50 years when they meet on Saturday
The Gunners will be hungry to make amends for that painful loss and they have the staff to hit the Spurs where it hurts after being galvanized by Arteta this season – and with a new look of solid buys.
Gabriel Jesus came in and was an instant hit – scoring four goals and providing three assists in his first seven games. He is well linked with a revitalized Gabriel Martinelli, while Bukayo Saka impressed on the wing.
Arsenal have also strengthened with the signings of Oleksandr Zinchenko as left-back, midfielder Fabio Vieira – and the returning William Saliba as centre-back feels like a new signing to provide more steel at the back for a previously shaky side.
It’s Jesus who poses the biggest threat to Spurs following his £45m move from Man City, while Arteta faces the threat posed by Tottenham’s dangerous frontline of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski – and their new signing Richarlison who is in the to blend.
The Gunners will be determined to get revenge after the Spurs beat them 3-0 last time, securing them a top four place in the process.
The first clash of this season should be a tasty affair, with Arsenal backed by the signing of Gabriel Jesus (L), while Spurs have bolstered with the signing of Richarlison (R)
Arsenal top the table before the clash, with Tottenham just one point behind in third place
The Brazilian forward – a rival to Jesus on the national team – has been a hit for Spurs since coming over from Everton for £60 million, scoring twice and providing two assists despite battling for a starting spot, but his fiery personality and reputation as a wind-up dealer could also play a role.
He infuriated Nottingham Forest by performing kick-ups during a 2-0 win at the City Ground and that kind of behavior would certainly brighten things up a bit in the Emirates.
Richarlison joins some big personalities who will be on the pitch this Saturday afternoon, including Granit Xhaka and Son – who have both been involved in brawls and brawls in previous derbies.
The Gunners have had a great start to the campaign, winning six of their first seven games
Arsenal will be wary of underestimating the Spurs, who have not looked like world champions this season with some questionable displays, but they have yet to taste defeat and the home side hope to change that next Saturday.
Conte’s side have managed to pull off results – saving a last-minute run against rivals Chelsea when defeat seemed inevitable – and they are currently on a run of four wins in five, the latest snapping a 6-2 from Leicester.
So while it’s still early days, both sides are singing and it’s possibly the strongest both sides have had for a Premier League-era North London Derby.
In previous years – certainly at the start of the top flight – Arsenal were the pacesetters and regularly challenged for the title and the top four, while the Spurs languished in the middle of the table for years.
This fierce derby has evolved over the years, but the two rivals are now better able than ever to challenge each other for a league title
It is only in the last ten years that Tottenham have really pushed forward and forged a squad that can compete with their bitter rivals. It’s been eight years since Arsenal last finished behind Spurs, with the Gunners having their own struggles in the post-Arsene Wenger era.
You have to go a long way back to a time when Spurs and Arsenal were both high on the table and challenging each other. The 1970-71 First Division was the last time the two rivals finished in the top three together, with the Gunners winning the league and the Spurs finishing third.
But now that Arsenal have renewed themselves under Arteta and Conte and turned their players into tough challengers, we finally have two strong teams in north London who can both compete for the title this season.
Is this Arsenal side really one to be taken seriously? In their first five games, they blew teams away, until they fell flat against a vulnerable Man United side in the first big challenge of their season.
Tottenham have a miserable record at Arsenal – only two wins in the history of the best flight
Mikel Arteta hopes to end Tottenham’s unbeaten run under manager Antonio Conte
They have beaten Leicester, Palace, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Fulham and Brentford, but this test against the Spurs is the toughest they’ve been through. How will they fare when faced with Kane, Son, Richarlison and the wingback threat from Ivan Perisic?
Spurs will be sure they’ve avoided defeat so far, but they know this is some real bogey ground for them. They haven’t won in the Emirates since 2010 – 12 years ago – and in fact they have only won twice at Arsenal in the entire Premier League era.
Indeed, in Arsenal’s last five games there have been four home wins and one draw. So it doesn’t bode well for the Conte boys.
But this fixture is always exciting. That would be the case if it was 19th vs 20th.
Considering that a win for either side would keep or propel them to the top of the table, there is a lot at stake here and both teams know that the win would be a real milestone for the season.