North London derby: Last chance for European football

Tottenham host bitter rivals Arsenal in what looms to be another enthralling North London derby early Monday morning (AEST) as both sides continue their fight for the remaining European places.

Arsenal are coming off a disappointing draw at home to Leicester City, a game they seemed to have in check until Eddie Nketiah’s red card late in the second half as Jamie Vardy levelled the score in the 84th minute. The Gunners are in good form, going unbeaten in their last five matches, winning four and drawing one.

Mikel Arteta has his side playing a more compact and unified brand of football now, and they will be fully confident in their ability to grab all three vital points from their rivals.

Mikel Arteta at an Arsenal practice match

Mikel Arteta (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham’s form is a little more up and down in comparison. Of their last five games Spurs have won two, drawn two and lost one, with the most recent result – an extremely disappointing draw away to relegation-threatened Bournemouth in which they failed to register a single shot on target throughout the game – something they will surely look to rectify this week.

As we all know, Arsenal’s defence will give you chances throughout the 90 minutes. It’s up to Spurs to capitalise.

Playing Tottenham away is not something Arsenal do too well, as they are without a league victory over their rivals since 2014, something they will look to put right tomorrow morning. With captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka as the most likely front three, Arsenal are more than capable of coming in and taking all three points from the hosts as their pace, power and ability to link up together was on full display against Leicester.

One thing that may go Arsenal’s way is that there will be no crowd. As most Gunners fans know, Tottenham’s home crowd can be very intimidating during North London derbies, and Arsenal have been known to crumble somewhat once Spurs get a little momentum during the match as the entire stadium gets behind them, something that will not affect them this time.

Spurs striker Harry Kane is the leading scorer in North London derbies, with nine goals to his name, and he will be looking at pushing his tally into double figures when the two sides meet. That’ll be harder than it sounds, as Mikel Arteta has tightened up his side’s defence. They’ve conceded only twice in five matches since Neal Maupay’s 95th-minute winner in their 2-1 away loss to Brighton.

As with all North London derbies, there is so much at stake for both sides. It’s not only about bragging rights; European football is at stake. Arsenal are eight points away from Manchester United in fifth and Spurs nine points behind – anything other than a win for either side would just about shut the door on playing football in Europe next season, so the stakes are high for this one.

Arsenal are the form side of the two, but form counts for little in these tight and tense affairs. It will all come to down who wants it more and who settles into the match the quicker.

For me, the Gunners will take the points in this one and continue their push for Champions League football.

Arsenal to win 2-1.

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