Arsenal – Tottenham: Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. North London Derbies are ALWAYS More Than Just 3 Points.

They say that, in derbies, form goes out the window.  Well, for this one, both sides have to hope that form–at least league form–doesn’t.

Arsenal have won five on the trot in the Premier league, tallying 3 clean sheets and a 16 to 3 goal difference.  Wow.  Spurs have won three and drawn two in their last five in the league, scoring 14 to their opponents 6.  Not too shabby, either.

Moreover, Mauricio Pochettino’s team has recovered from a very slow start in the league–an opening day loss to Manchester United was followed by three consecutive draws–to the point that the not-so-quiet whispers about his managerial tenure have turned into a much stronger belief that the club is on a good footing with the Argentine at the helm.

Much of that, however, has to do with the return to fitness of playmaker (and free kick specialist) Christian Eriksen and the return to form of front man Harry Kane.  Injury has cost them the one player who was scoring in the early season, Nacer Chadli, but his loss has allowed the emergence of 19 year old Dele Alli as a real force in midfield.  Erik Lamela has also benefited from more consistent match time as has Moussa Dembele who scored a late winner on Thursday in Europa League play vs Anderlecht.  All told, their attack should be buoyed by their recent form and believe they have a good chance to travel to the better part of North London and get goals and a result.

Spurs resurgence in attack has been matched by greater stinginess at the back.  Intriguingly, Pochettino has gone to a group of smaller players who rely on quickness and recovery pace rather than positioning and physical dominance.  Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker have all played most of their careers at full-back.  Keeper Hugo Lloris, not the biggest at his position, is one of the best for being extremely quick and decisive when coming off his line.

This, however, could play into Arsenal’s hands.  With our paciest players, Theo Walcott, Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out with injuries, Arsenal have had to rely on the big presence of Olivier Giroud up front.  He’s taken the opportunity, scoring in all but one of his last six matches.  His hold up play should also help bring in the likes of wide attackers Alexis Sanchez and Joel Campbell or midfielders Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin.  Giroud could also be a boon at set-pieces where Arsenal have been looking increasingly dangerous.

The smaller Spurs defenders, however, should be wary of putting too much focus on Giroud given the likely return to the line-up of center-back Laurent Koscielny who has scored in each of last two appearances.  Rested for the midweek trip to Bayern Munich, his return should give our battered team a real lift.

We might need it after the dismantling we received out there.  With our depleted squad and heavy schedule we needed to play a near-perfect match and have a little luck.  We got neither and suffered our worst defeat in Europe, losing 5-1.  We must shrug that one off and take the pitch with the confidence of the team that, in our three most recent home matches, blitzed Man United 3-nil, beat Bayern 2-nil and dominated Everton in winning 2-1, only conceding a deflected goal.

Turning our home stadium into a true fortress, in my opinion, will be essential if we’re to have a real run at the league title this season.  Those recent matches have reversed the stumbles we’ve had at home against lesser sides.  Losses to AS Monaco and Swansea last spring stand out, as do similar results this term vs West Ham United and Olympiakos.  In the NLD a year ago, Spurs scored first and only a late goal from the Ox allowed us to save face with a draw.  Nothing would validate the turnaround in our home form more effectively than sending sulking Spurs supporters north up the Seven Sisters Road.

So, extending our fine run in front of the home support–plus the usual bragging rights–are the reason this one means more than just the points on offer.  With a few players including Bellerin, Aaron Ramsey and the Ox expected to return to the squad after the International break, taking this one would show that this Arsenal squad–even when reduced nearly to bare bones–has the toughness, togetherness and resiliency to overcome real adversity and a very demanding schedule of matches.

We’re not quite there yet.  Only Koscielny, Captain Mikel Arteta and back-up goalkeeper David Ospina are newly available for this match so the team more or less picks itself.  This is how I see Wenger setting out the team.

Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Iwobi

To my mind it’s critical we start well, withstand the high emotion the derby always brings and allow our superior quality to show as the match moves on.  While both teams have tightened up at the back, the NLD is often full of goals, and, if either team gets one early on, it could get wild.  I’ve got a feeling that this one could turn on set-pieces.  Arsenal’s size advantage should help if we earn them, but Eriksen’s left foot effectively expands the penalty box meaning that we’ll need exceptionally clean defending and the tidy teamwork we’ve seen amongst the defenders in those recent home victories.  Coquelin and Cazorla need to continue nipping in and touching balls away from attackers so that our back line can remain as barriers with their backs to our goal.

Going forward, Alexis has had a couple of quiet matches so perhaps is due a goal (or three).  Joel Campbell should be buoyed by his goal at Swansea and that he didn’t look woefully out of place at Bayern.  His work rate and combativeness have impressed and he’ll need continued focus helping out the man behind him, Mathieu Debuchy, who hasn’t done much to make Gooners not miss Bellerin.  Both need to keep alert and work together to prevent Lamela dribbling into our penalty area and to prevent crosses into Kane or pull backs for Eriksen.  Ozil, Alexis and Cazorla, along with Giroud will be the obvious focus of our attack, but Campbell could endear himself further by being in the right place at the right time and taking a chance against the old enemy.  This also wouldn’t be a bad spot for Coquelin to get his first Arsenal goal or for Santi to notch his first of the season.

Regardless of individual heroics, I believe we can win this one by showing our superior quality and teamwork in all parts of the pitch.  We’ll also need to remain calm, confident and committed no matter what happens in the match–not to mention in the stands and terraces.

As always, however, that’s just my take on things.  What say you, fellow Gooners?  Are you confident or worried heading into this one?  Do you like the line-up or might you continue with Gabriel at the back or find a spot for the guy who put Spurs to the sword in the most recent derby: Mathieu Flamini?  Is it one to analyze or have I wasted a thousand words when I could have just said, “They’re Tottenham; We’re Arsenal…”?


by 17highburyterrace

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69 Responses to Arsenal – Tottenham: Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. North London Derbies are ALWAYS More Than Just 3 Points.

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Fantastic preview, 17HT, getting us right in the move. Very well written. This game can put us well ahead in the London PL league: a win creates an eight point lead, a loss just two points. More later. 🙂

  2. London table?… I guess it reads Arsenal 25 (played 11), WHU 21 (played 12), Totts 20 (played 11), Palace 16 (played 11), Chelsea 12 (played 12)…

    😯 😀

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Exactly 17ht 😜

    And let’s add three points to our tally tomorrow.. A six pointer…. 😆

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Re the line up, I wonder whether we should play Flamini in this one. He did so well in his last outing against the Spudskies, and we could do with his steel, energy and maybe even a goal…

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Are you going skiing today?

    Walked Henry in the rain today but nice, strenuous walk.

  6. 17highburyterrace says:

    Too sunny to ski… 😀 It was pretty marginal the other day…4″ is barely enough and there we’re some bare spots that required some quick stepwork… Tomorrow we’re supposed to get a few more inches so that should refresh the track… Around here, the sun is the enemy (of the snow)…

    I think Campbell and Debuchy are working fairly well together as a tandem over on the right. It’s not ideal but I doubt Flamini has much experience playing as a right sided attacker. Of course, he has done some time as a right back… At Bayern, when Campbell subbed out, Alexis seemed to move to the right side with Gibbs on as our left sided attacker ahead of Nacho. To me, that scenario seems more likely… Flams could also come in and Santi could push up and (ostensibly) out wider…

    As much as Flams showed great technique for the 2nd goal at WHL, Arteta can belt them too. As written in the preview, those two are our most attacking options off the bench… :gulp: If it’s tight the starters will have to go the full 90…another reason not to get too caught up in the atmosphere straight from the kick-off. Full effort, of course, but full focus (nothing stupid…) and control, too…

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    I see! As you know the sun is the enemy of nothing here, just a big friend!

    I reckon Flamini is a lot more match fit than Arteta, but good to know he is back. The combo of Debuchy and Campbell on the right does not do it (yet) for me… But you are probably right regarding picking them for this match once again..

  8. Admir says:

    Excellent preview, 17. 🙂

    If we score, we’ll win – that’s what we have learned so far in the league. 😀

    It’s the one Mesut should take care of. 🙂 An assist for Alexis and a goal for himself to make it 2:0.

  9. geoffchase says:


    Been lurking… We’ve been good on weekends, long may it last! 🙂

    I figure the lineup is good. Missing pace with Bellerin and Walcott gone, and with it some penetration. So, versus a resurgent Spurs, it’ll be interesting…

    Cheers — jgc

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir, or a header by the BFG wins it for us.. 😃

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to hear from you Geoff, we have been missing your analyses! 😳

    How has life been treating you?

  12. Pony Eye. says:


    How are you always able to rise above the carnage of the moment? I am determined to keep pace.

    Bare bones bearing down on Spuds as bare knuckles. Spuds walloped 3-0.

    I feel Chambers is wrongly labeled. Imo he always is more of a midfielder than a defender. For that head racking RMF vacancy, I will play him ahead of Campbell or Flamini. He is a better passer of the ball and his defensive expousure qualifies him even the more. He is young too, very adaptable.

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Big game today and 17ht has it re balance between enthusiasm and control, attacking with hunger but keeping tight at the back. And then there is the risk of more injuries, especially early on. A win today would be great but it will not be easy.

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    We also need a (threat of a) goal from the right, PE, and I am not sure Calum would deliver…

  15. Pony Eye. says:


    All things put together, I feel Chambers represents a better asset. Campbell doesn’t do it for me. We shouldn’t forget that Campbell has had a lot of expousure with his loan spells and with his national team yet there is that feeling about him of a recently promoted junior player. Can he really grown much more?

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    I know what you mean, PE, but maybe it is a confidence thing. I would play Flamini on the right and kick some Spuddies arses! 😮

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    ”Morning fellows… Good to see the professor pop up…ditto on missing your contributions and wondering what you’re up to…

    Lineups are out… For ours see above :pats his own back: Spurs have Danny Rose back so they push Dier up to play ahead of him?

    Remi Garde and Villa very close to holding onto a nil-nil against Man City…

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Finishes nil-nil… 😀

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Garde the Gooner 🙂

    Well done on the line up, 17HT.

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers TA… Are you watching at home today?…

    Interesting stuff above from PE. I see Chambers as a ball playing CB and (very) occasional DM…certainly not a wide attacker (for me)… I also think time is on his side.

    OTOH, It’s all rather now or never for Campbell. He took that goal at Swansea very calmly and the finish was not the easiest. I’m not sure he’s physically up to playing in this league (compared to say, the Ox…) but good decisions and execution with final balls, not to mention being fit, makes him the man for the moment… Score today and nobody will forget him… After the break, if fit, Ramsey comes straight back in, I would guess…

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Yes watching at home, but I will have to hand over the IPad, so cannot comment during game.

    Agreed on Chambers, still young so let’s see how he develops… 😉

  22. ab says:

    Grief – I will be in the grave by the end of this if it carries on at this rate!

  23. Hey AB… Indeed, end to end… Now we’re keeping it down their way and win the first corner… Good thing Nacho popped up on that one Totts break…

  24. ab says:

    Hi HT. Its all set up for us here. But spuds look both well organised and up for it.

  25. 17highburyterrace says:

    Both teams are moving well and seem willing to push men up… Just need to keep at it …

    Danny Rose faking injury…

  26. ab says:

    Campbell needs to keep calm – no reds on our side please.

  27. Totts doing better since the Campbell-incident… Dier given a free header on the set piece but from a wide angle…

    Debuchy has done well defending but Spuds look happy to give us space on our right in attack…

    Nacho has been very good too…

  28. 17highburyterrace says:

    What happened there? Geezus…

  29. ab says:

    I was just about to say how little I am liking this. And there it goes, 1 down to Kane. This has been a crazy game with both sides attacking like mad making the result a complete lottery. We have the quality not to need to do that, but to be more controlled and patient. Lets hope the spuds don’t display discipline from here – because if they do, they have the defenders now to close the game out effectively. Plenty of time for us, but we need to use our heads too.

  30. 17highburyterrace says:

    Two consecutive matches now where we’ve given the first goal failing to play the offside trap…

    Things getting feisty now but I think we can still make chances… Of course, they should get theirs on the counter… Never good giving up the first goal…

  31. Admir says:

    Cazorla has been the worst on the pitch so far. Meek in defending, weak in possession.

  32. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ozil not afraid to go into Kane…

    We’ve got some trouble moving the ball in MF and can’t really play at all (going forward) down our right…

    AW will need to sort things out at halftime… More coffee for me…

    And the boys, perhaps?

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Yeah Admir, surprise us with your favourite comment. Cazorla produced superb through balls early on that could have led to a goal. We are outnumbered in central midfield as Campbell is not Ramsey…

  34. TotalArsenal says:

    We have got work to do here. We need to push them into their own half and work the combinations quicker and sharper. We are not penetrating them on the wings and leave Giroud too isolated in the middle. Push up, speed up and find the gaps.

  35. Yeah, the Santi blame seems a little tough… Ref is allowing a lot of physical play which will always be tough on the little fellas…

    Too many touches kill just about everything down our right side, I think is the real problem… I would not be opposed to Gibbs in on the left and Alexis shifted right…

    Chances both directions (but only one save, I think…) Credit to Eriksen for the quick and inch perfect pass before the back line could step up for the offside call…

    2nd half on but Admir gets his wish… Santi is off, Flams on…

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    The Flame is on, let’s fry some spuds! 😅

  37. ab says:

    Well you have your wish Admir. I think we are the weaker for it however. Fingers crossed he is not going to be out for long.

  38. ab says:

    Another goal for Campbell would be very welcome!

  39. Campbell forces a good save from Lloris but then loses it later near the center line…

    Flams hasn’t touched it in his first five mins, I don’t think…Does get a foul in near mid-pitch…

    We need to turn the tide in MF here (Alexis, Ozil…C’mon boys…… Flams deflects Eriksen’s shot cross out for a corner… Totts pushing for a 2nd could give us a chance on the break,

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    Giroud…What a miss… 😦

  41. ab says:

    Ollie having one of those days. He often scores a belter after missing some easier chances….. feeling like one of those days at the moment….

  42. TotalArsenal says:

    It’s coming boys

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    More trouble at the back, Good save by Cech…

  44. TotalArsenal says:

    Aahhhh we need to keep the pressure up though

  45. ab says:

    They look more likely to score than we do at the moment… we should be level at least however.

  46. Totts having a good spell here and we look out of sorts at the back…and Alexis just heavy in the touch breaking from their corner…

    Need to make them pay for trying so hard for a 2nd…

    Ooh, more troubles for Alexis…into touch…

    Geez, really all Totts right now…Great save from Cech…

  47. ab says:

    Bellerin and Santi being badly missed here. And we could do with Theo on the breaks. Fatigue setting in?

  48. TotalArsenal says:

    Good sub I reckon

  49. It does appear that way, AB… A goal would be a massive lift, however…

    Dubuchy staying down… A sub, I think, is very needed…

    Gibbs for Campbell, but we probably also need Chambers in for Debs…

  50. TotalArsenal says:

    I told you hahahaha Gibbsy!,!! 😀

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    GIBBS!!!! From Ozil…. Wow!!!

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    Arteta in for Debuchy…

  53. TotalArsenal says:

    Do we take a point or risk everything for a win?

  54. ab says:

    Bloody hell – we are a team of crocks now! I’d take the point from here. A spectacular goal from Giroud would be sweet though!

  55. TotalArsenal says:

    I predicted a Mertesacker winner, but yes, given the fatigue factor, a draw would not be bad.

  56. 17highburyterrace says:

    Arsenal support in good voice now… I say go for it…If Gibbs can score, why can’t anybody?… Besides, Le Coq, Arteta and Flams will keep any break of theirs under wraps…

  57. TotalArsenal says:

    Well that is what we are doing! CoYG!s

  58. Giroud on target this time but to close to Lloris… Ozil deliveries really strong… Keep the ball down their way and we can win this…

  59. 17highburyterrace says:

    Only 3 mins extra time?…

  60. ab says:

    We came back well. Given the injury record, the mid-week game and being a goal down at half time, I can’t complain. Giroud may reflect on a couple of chances, but a welcome break now. And pool lose too, so the weekend has not be too bad for us on balance – depending on the injury news that is. I’m knackered by that!

  61. Bad throw to end it?…

    Finishes a draw…and we probably need to be content we got it…

    We need some bodies back after the break… Too many tired players, I think…

    Cech save from their corner, I guess, cancels out Giroud missing his open header from ours…

  62. TotalArsenal says:

    Happy with that result, and top of league with Citeh again.

  63. Admir says:

    I’m very pleased with the battling spirit in the second half.

    Özil – what a player! He can create a chance out of nothing. Too bad Giroud didn’t have his shooting boots on today.

    And, brilliant reading of the game by Arsene. He made a correct call at the break and another one with Gibbs and with moving Alexis to the right.

    Our man on the bench of Aston Villa did his job today for us. 🙂

  64. Both teams showed very good–derby style–effort out there, but I’m disappointed we couldn’t control the battle in MF… Curious if Santi has a knock… I know, I know, Admir, he’s just no good… 😦

    Ozil, you’re right, is very, very good, but he needs guys to work with. Take Santi out of the match and Alexis having a struggle and it gets much tougher for him. At least one of his deliveries was rewarded…

    Very good that Low is leaving Ozil out of the friendlies, Giroud, however, is being asked to play and Alexis (and Campbell?…) will fly around the globe. My hope is that Ramsey can get back sooner than later as we’re looking very, very thin. Maybe BFG, Arteta (and Ozil, perhaps) can stay back and work with some of the kids and rehab and non-int’l types (when does Le Coq start getting called up for France?…) so that we can control matches a bit better than today’s…

  65. ab says:

    Yup. No complaints from that. lets hope for some recovery now.

  66. Admir says:

    It’s not that Santi is no good. It’s just that his limits get exposed in matches like the one today or, indeed, in Munich.

    You are right about Alexis and international obligations. I can’t wait to see Rambo back as well as Theo and Ox. If Welbeck and Wilshere make their return around New Year, we’ll give Manchester City a good run for their money.

    Liverpool lost, Manchester City drew, Chelsea lost… We are 15 points above The Disgusting One and level on points with Manchester Oilers. Life is beautiful. 🙂

  67. geoffchase says:

    TA and 17,

    good result from what little I have seen so far. Anyway, sounds like we could’ve stolen it too. My main takes so far:

    a. We miss some speed, Gibbs perhaps brought it with speed + fresh legs. We need some recovery time and the coming break may be good chance

    b. Ozil was Ozil, as we Ozil supporters always new, … but, very interestingly, he is now at 10 assists, half way to Henry’s record of 20 for a season, but only 32% of the way through. Long may that last!!! 🙂 … He created 3 very good chances today, we didn’t take but 1, so the draw is “fair” in that sense

    c. In a game we didn’t play well, we still drew with a good, on-form side. This is resilience and toughness we’ve not seen nearly so much in recent years. Doesn’t mean we don’t need to get our defense sorted more going forward, and clear 1-2 injuries (or more!) away.

    Good news is that with 2 whole weeks until next game there is time to get these things sorted and back on track. I liked that I read that Ozil was not selected for Germany’s friendlies as the EPL don’t have a winter break so this is his break now. That will help us too, I think.

    As for the rest of my life, TA and 17, well very very … very busy running two major consortia now. Hence, less appearance here. Family and older son going well, which is good, long may that go on, as well! Otherwise, just the usual. I am in Europe (Belgium again) Nov 18-Dec 6, and, in theory, have a run to Oxford for a day in there. We will see… Get to see games live again, like the 2-1 I saw over Everton while in the states a few weeks back..

    cheers from down here — jgc

  68. TotalArsenal says:

    Geoff, thanks for the update and views on the game. I will copy and paste into new post which I have just published. 🙂

  69. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

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