Arsenal face Tottenham at home this weekend, hoping to not only hold their strong league position, but also re-assert their long-standing dominance over their closest rivals. Here’s five major talking points ahead of the North London Derby.
Will Spurs fans take revenge for stadium vandalism?
Maybe Arsenal fans felt that the rivalry was getting a bit dry. Maybe they were starting the White Hart Lane renovations early. Either way, pulling off bits of your opposition’s stadium and throwing them at the fans is one way to spice things up, and you can bet Tottenham fans weren't happy about it.
This was fairly uncharacteristic from the Arsenal fans, especially after taking issue with Galatasaray after the Turkish supporters tried to set the Emirates pitch on fire a couple of years ago, claiming they showed a lack of class.
While the Emirates signage has probably been welded, nailed and super-glued ahead of the match, it will be interesting to see whether Spurs fans find a way to take revenge.
ProTip: Don’t let them anywhere near the Henry statue.
Can Arsenal bounce back from horror show in Munich?
We can’t say we didn’t see it coming, but the way Arsenal were torn apart by Bayern midweek is a glaring testament to the strength (or lack thereof) in the English Premier League.
Admittedly, Arsenal were without Bellerin, Koscielny, Chamberlain, Walcott and Ramsey due to injury, but that’s where elite teams like Arsenal should have better rotation options.
A major problem for Arsenal in the last decade has been poor mentality, so Wenger will expect the squad to show resilience and bounce back this weekend, just as they did after the League Cup calamity against Sheffield Wednesday.
Are Arsenal prepared to get dirty against physical Spurs midfield?
In recent fixtures between these sides, Spurs have out-muscled Arsenal’s fragile midfield and controlled proceedings in the centre of the park. With players like Eric Dier and Dele Alli happy to surge forward and press midfielders, there will be pressure on Ozil, Carzola and Alexis to stand up for themselves and give a little back, or be forced out of the game.
We can be sure Coquelin and Gabriel will be up to the task though though.
Is Harry Kane officially out of his form slump?
‘One-season wonder’ was the cry of the Arsenal fans in the opening weeks of the season, changing their tune from last year’s ‘Harry Kane’s a Gooner.’ However, 5 goals in his last 5 league games may be finally starting to silence his critics.
Goals against Aston Villa and Bournemouth, plus an open net against City isn’t all that much to gloat about, so the Arsenal match is the perfect chance to prove he’s back to his game-changing potential.
After all, he was the difference against Arsenal in the 2-1 win last year.
Are Arsenal still number one in North London?
The short answer is yes. Ladder position, Champions League football and individual player statistics show Arsenal still have the edge on their rivals in an overall perspective. However, four points out of six last season revealed Spurs desire to finally claim some dominance over the Gunners. Arsenal can’t keep referring to Cup results to verify superiority and need to prove they can go toe to toe on the pitch when it counts.
Arsenal will be sweating on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny, while Spurs fans will hope to see Dembele thrash another worldie as he did in Belgium this week. It’s a tasty, bitter affair and a match sure to keep England’s most fierce rivalry burning strong.
I predict a tough, scrappy game, with Arsenal coming out on top as 3-1 victors.