Tottenham v Arsenal
This week, The Analyst takes an in-depth look at the movers and shakers of the upcoming North London derby.
The North London derby: when a dynamic force meets an irresistible object – sparks fly. Over the years, this mostly bi-annual rivalry has seen reels upon reels of the sublime, ridiculous and outrageous. This incarnation promises more of the same, with both clubs enjoying a rich vein of form and sporting some of the Premier League’s truly outstanding performers this season.
Arsenal will be brimming with confidence following their weekend destruction of Aston Villa, with the fit again Ozil and Walcott particularly wowing. Tottenham meanwhile, made the rest of the league sit up, take notice and spit out their coffee with that stunning 5-3 victory over league leaders Chelsea a month ago.
Christian Eriksen has built upon his promise, while Spurs’ own local boy, Harry Kane has shot out of nowhere to establish himself as one of the season’s success stories, and the prolific striker they’ve longed for.
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham
Harry Kane v David Ospina
Arsenal have a distinct advantage over Tottenham in recent seasons, with The Gunners coming up trumps in 67% of their last six meetings, across all competitions. That however, was the pre-Kane era. Since establishing himself this season as an vital cog in the Spurs machine, Kane has far eclipsed the more experienced, but goal shy Adebayor and Soldado.
With 10 league goals to his name, Kane stands as the league’s 5th top scorer, with 6 scored in his last six appearances, not to mention an assist. In that same time period, Kane ranked as the league’s most clinical and prolific forward, with 6 of 19 goal attempts finding the back of the net, and furthermore wasting just one major chance.
The man charged with stopping the Kane machine will be Colombia’s World Cup star and Arsenal new boy, David Ospina. Since coming in for the out-of-sorts Szczęsny in Gameweek 21, Ospina has been the epitome of solidity. Keeping 3 clean sheets in as many appearances – including a standout performance at Manchester City – puts him firmly on the totem of the custodian stakes.
True his defence have found form in recent weeks, but it’s no surprise that Ospina has lead the league in claims (12) over that same period. He has shown himself to be the calming and commanding presence in the goalmouth – a far cry from his predecessors recent offerings. Starting – one presumes – in his first North London derby, Ospina could prove the spoilsport for the White Hart Lane faithful.
Christian Eriksen v Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla has been the outstanding midfield player of the past six Gameweeks, but a certain young Dane doesn’t rank far behind. Christian Eriksen currently leads goals among PlayON midfielders with 9 in total, scoring 3 of those in his last six league fixtures.
The Dane may be lacking in creative input with only one assist this season and just 12 chances created over the last six games – it’s apparent, however, that Mauricio Pochettino has charged him with a different role within the team, and the goals have flooded as a result.
The new look Arsenal midfield, with Coquelin at the base, appears to have freed up Cazorla to dictate from the centre of the park. The Spaniard has been a revelation over the past six games, with 3 goals, as many assists and 20 further chances created for his teammates. With Sanchez out, he will serve as Arsenal’s driving force and, like Eriksen provides acute dead ball speciality.
While Spurs have defensive fortitude running through the team, particularly while playing at home, Arsenal look currently irrepressible. For The Analyst, it’s impossible to look past them. Even in the likely absence of Alexis Sanchez, it’s difficult to imagine a Spurs win. Expect a tempestuous atmosphere, but don’t hold out for the men in white.