Premier League: More than just North London bragging rights at stake for Arsenal and Tottenham

Arsenal and Tottenham will be fighting for much more than local bragging rights on Saturday as the North London rivals aim to prove they are serious contenders for the Premier League title.

As top-flight action returns following the international break, Arsenal sits top of the table after an unexpectedly strong start, while unbeaten Tottenham is just one point behind in third place.

With Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United still recovering their equilibrium after turbulent starts to the season, a path has opened up for the north London clubs to gate-crash the title race.

If a title challenger was expected to emerge from either end of the Seven Sisters Road, it was Tottenham that was the more likely candidate after snatching a top-four finish from its bitter rivals and neighbors in dramatic fashion last season.

Arsenal was in pole position to qualify for the Champions League when it moved four points clear of Tottenham with just three games left. But Mikel Arteta's Gunners blew their chance as a disastrous 3-0 defeat at Tottenham was followed by a devastating loss against Newcastle, ruining their hopes of returning to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Buoyed by pipping Arsenal, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy bowed to Antonio Conte's demands, sanctioning an off-season spending spree that further enhanced the feelgood factor around the club.

With Conte refusing to let his players rest on its laurels, Tottenham has continued to progress in its second season under the demanding Italian.

Conte showed his ruthless side in Tottenham's last game when he dropped Son Heung-min after his eight-match goalless run and was rewarded with a hat-trick from the South Korean after sending him on as a substitute in the 6-2 rout of Leicester.

While Tottenham's rise underlines Conte's managerial acumen, it is arguably Arteta who has done the more impressive work this term.

Arsenal's implosion in the final week of last season could have been a hammer blow to Arteta's gradual rebuild of a club mired in mediocrity since well before the end of Arsene Wenger's reign.

The eccentric side to Arteta's personality was on display during the "All or Nothing" television documentary that captured the Spaniard's fight to steer the club through troubled waters last season.

But Arteta's quirks should not obscure the astute way he has infused Arsenal with energy and enthusiasm by promoting a group of talented youngsters, while also shipping out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following disciplinary problems.

Revitalized by the recent signings of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, as well as the development of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal has enjoyed the benefits of a relatively benign fixture list so far.

Wenger, who led Arsenal to the most recent title in 2004, believes his former team should already be regarded as title contenders.

"I would say they have a good chance because I don't see any super-dominating team," Wenger told Sky Sports. "I believe it is a good opportunity to do it this season."

However, Arsenal's only match against a top-four rival this season ended in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United.

Arteta needs a statement victory to show there is substance to the surge that gave Arsenal its best start to a season since 2004, courtesy of a five-game winning run.

History is in Arsenal's favor, with Tottenham on a run of 11 top-flight visits to the Emirates Stadium without a win since the last success in 2010.

Yet Arsenal, beaten only once in its past 29 home league games against Tottenham, must find a way to subdue long-time nemesis Harry Kane. The Tottenham strike has scored a record 13 goals in 17 north London derby appearances, including two in their most recent meeting in May.

Saturday: Arsenal vs. Tottenham, Bournemouth vs. Brentford, Crystal Palace vs.  Chelsea, Fulham vs. Newcastle, Liverpool vs. Brighton, Southampton vs.  Everton, West Ham vs. Wolves
Sunday: Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Leeds vs. Aston Villa
Monday: Leicester vs. Nottingham Forest
Viewing: Soccer on TV
1 comment about "Premier League: More than just North London bragging rights at stake for Arsenal and Tottenham".
  1. R2 Dad, September 30, 2022 at 2:51 p.m.

    Talk of a title race this early in the season is always foolhardy, especially with the WC coming up. I am forecasting an absolute tsunami of injuries between now and January, which might damage Arsenals squad less than their competitors.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications