Test of nerves for Arteta’s Arsenal as North London Derby awaits


The past 18-24 months have been an enjoyable ride for Arsenal and their fan-base after almost a decade of turbulence.

Mikel Arteta has been able to weed out most, if not all, of the rot that was involved in the club prior to somehow being involved in a title race before a lack of squad depth was severely exposed en route to Manchester City being successful in achieving the treble.

Almost 12 months since bottling the league to City, Arsenal will be tested to their core as a derby against arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur awaits in what could decide if the North London-based club will be able to continue fighting for the 2023-24 EPL title.

Despite currently leading the English Premier League by one point against the alleged Financial Fair Play violators the United Arab Emir… sorry, City Football Group, Manchester City have a game in hand and Pep Guardiola’s men are nothing short of mentality monsters in the back end of EPL campaigns.

The Gunners have bounced back well from their Champions League exit, comfortably winning 2-0 against Wolverhampton Wolves before Kai Havertz haunted his former employers en route to a 5-0 thrashing against London rivals Chelsea.

For Arsenal, they enter the North London Derby with great confidence. The Gunners boast the best attack and the best defence this season, currently holding a goal differential of +56. With Thomas Partey fit and firing, the Gunners now have an extra sense of physicality in midfield which was evident in Arsenal’s 5-0 win against Chelsea.

With Arsenal now only competing in one competition, they should stick to the same XI that got the job done against Chelsea.

Ah, Tottenham. As much as I love to hate you, you’re slightly less unbearable with Ange Postecoglou at the helm.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou after Tottenham beat Manchester United. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Spurs have stuck to their mantra of not caring about opposition teams and sticking to their own style of fast, aggressive and enjoyable football. Unfortunately for Postecoglou, his lack of a plan B has led to Spurs losing games they should not have lost. Despite being pampered with a few injuries, any team with Son Heung-min leading the frontline should not be underestimated.

In May 2022, a victory for the Gunners would have confirmed Champions League qualification. Instead, a controversial decision saw Son’s elbow on Rob Holding escape punishment, as Holding was sent off soon after. Tottenham won 3-0 and qualified for the Champions League later in the season at the expense of Arteta’s Arsenal.

A 2-0 victory for the Gunners the following year made Arsenal firm favourites to win the Premier League before injuries and an inability to handle pressure saw Arsenal bottle the league last season.

However, this feels different. This genuinely feels a game as big as the day Arsenal won their last league title 20 years ago. Arsenal head into the NLD as massive favourites. However, does form really matter in a derby? Absolutely not.

Tottenham versus Arsenal. Chicken on top of a volleyball against a cannon. First vs fifth.

Bring it on.

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