The first north London derby of the season rolls around on Sunday afternoon, as Arsenal to win three consecutive league games against Tottenham Hotspur for the first time since 1989.
Both teams head into the fixture level on 13 points and boasting unbeaten records after five league matches, but Spurs have had the benefit of a full week to prepare for this game having missed out on European qualification last term. However, Arsenal are unbeaten in each of our last 15 league games following a European encounter.
The history books are very much in our favour as Arsenal have lost just once in our last 30 home derbies, and none since November 2010. That’s a record all Gooners will be desperate for us to improve as we aim to maintain the momentum gained from three successive victories heading into this one.
Just like last season, Spurs arrive at Emirates Stadium unbeaten which is no mean feat given the upheaval they endured over the summer. A drawn-out process eventually saw Ange Postecoglou poached from Celtic to become their new boss, while an even longer saga ended when Harry Kane switched to Bayern Munich.
However, the Australian manager has guided his new team to their best start in Premier League history, and their best points return after five games since 1965. The additions of James Maddison and Brennan Johnson have freshened up their attack, with Son Heung-min taking up the captaincy from the released Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham have scored at least twice in all five of their league games under Postecoglu so far, which includes four successive wins with Bournemouth and Burnley beaten on their travels.
They have also shown plenty of resilience too, as coming into this weekend only Liverpool have won more points from losing positions than the seven Spurs have gained so far, which includes three gained last weekend when they netted twice deep into stoppage-time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at home to Sheffield United.
Arteta: “It’s a new challenge, a new opportunity. They have a new manager who has done really, really well and changed the vibe and everything around the club.
“It’s a different style as well, so we need to adapt to that, be ourselves and produce the performance that we need to beat them.
“[Kane] was the one that glued everything together and he did it in many different ways from many different areas of the pitch.
“Now it’s a bit different. I think they have a different style from the last two coaches as well there for sure. They have some specificity in some movements that they make with certain players, so I think it’s a very different team.”
Postecoglu: “It’s fair to say people have given me an indication about how they feel about this game and that’s great. I’ve been involved in derbies, one very significant one and you understand what it means to supporters for both clubs and the significance in terms of the general mood around the place.
“All these things add significance to the future and on top of that they are also a very, very good football side.
“They had an outstanding season last season, they’ve strengthened this year and they’re a group that for the most part has grown together and you can see that there’s a real belief within them. Playing at their place will be a hell of a challenge for us.”
Under Postecoglou, Tottenham are no longer a deep-lying, reactive counter-attacking side. They have quickly become a proactive team full of individuals who are comfortable receiving the ball in tight areas, wanting to form neat triangles and attack with numbers.
They line up in a 4-2-3-1 system, and focus on possession-based football, aiming to create overloads and find space. This style change has seen Spurs increase the number of successful passes they make inside the opposition half by 67 per cent, and they lead the way with touches in the opposition box. Runners exploit gaps between full-backs and central defenders, so they will try to test us with bursts from deep.
A lot of what Tottenham produce right now goes through rejuvenated central midfielder Yves Bissouma. A lot of build-up play revolves around the former Brighton & Hove Albion star’s quality in possession, and he has been superb at regaining the ball. No midfielder has made more interceptions, and he ranks joint second for tackles made.
Switching to such an adventurous style has understandably led to Spurs being vulnerable to opposition attacks. From turnovers, they have been stretched, especially in the wide areas with opponents creating plenty of goalscoring opportunities.
Robert Jones takes charge of his first north London derby, in what will be the fifth occasion he has refereed one of our games.
Three of those came last season in the home wins over Aston Villa and Chelsea, plus our draw at Southampton.
He has already officiated Tottenham this season when they drew 2-2 with Brentford on the opening weekend, when he awarded the Bees a penalty and booked four Spurs players, including two for dissent.
- Referee: Robert Jones
- Assistants: Lee Betts, Wade Smith
- Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury
- VAR: Paul Tierney
- Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard (Credit: arsenal.com)