The North London Derby is one of the biggest Derby’s in all of England. It sees two top clubs face off in Arsenal and Tottenham. With a long history and mutual hatred for each other, the NLD has it all.
This season, Tottenham have been playing well as they sit in third place, level on points with second place Man United. Arsenal, on the other hand, have had their ups and downs, as they sit in sixth only four points off Tottenham.
If Arsenal were to secure all three points in this game, it would kick off their season and they wouldn’t look back. Arsenal haven’t beat Tottenham since March of 2014 in the League. In that time, Arsenal have drawn 4 and lost 2 against their local rivals.
Individuals have always made a difference in this rivalry and this year will be no different. Here are two players from Arsenal and two players from Tottenham who are key to their team’s success.
Alli was rested over the international break as he didn’t feature for England. He had a hamstring injury that kept him out. Pochettino probably didn’t want his key man featuring for England with such a huge game approaching.
One reason Alli is key for Tottenham is due to his link-up play with Harry Kane. Kane seems to always pop up with a goal against Arsenal, due to this the Gunners defense will have their full attention towards him.
This might give Alli more space to work out a shot for himself. At times Alli can almost play as another striker along with Kane, and if given too much space he can make teams pay.
Alli needs to link up with Kane early on and set a trend for the rest of the match. Arsenal’s backline is shaky and they may be able to deal with Kane alone, but if Alli is supporting Kane and threatening the defense there is little hope for Arsenal.
No player splits Arsenal’s fanbase quite like Ramsey. At times he’s brilliant, coming up in attacking positions and finishing with a goal, other times he’s caught out of position and isolates his midfield partner.
However, this season Ramsey has been pretty consistent after his terrible performance at Anfield. Ramsey has put in good shifts against the likes of Chelsea, Everton, and Swansea.
He will be key against Tottenham on both sides of the ball. On offense, he can be a threat in the final third, finding space for the likes of Ozil to link up with him. Ramsey came up with a big goal away at White Hart Lane two seasons ago and will be looking for the same on Saturday.
On defense, Ramsey needs to have a good work rate and not leave Xhaka isolated. If Ramsey gets caught out, Eriksen and Alli can easily punish him. We’ve seen the good and the bad from Ramsey this season defensively, and if he can replicate his performance against Chelsea then Arsenal will limit Tottenham’s chances.
Eriksen is always going to be key to Tottenham’s success, as he is the main creator in Spurs mighty attack. If Eriksen has a poor game, that usually translates into Tottenham having a bad game as well.
Eriksen is going to be coming into this game though on a high, as he helped qualify his country, Denmark, to a victory to send them to the World Cup. It was the final game of the qualifiers and Eriksen scored a hat-trick against Ireland in a 5-1 routing.
Although Eriksen will be in fine form, he might also be a bit tired after playing two games over the international break. Alli and Kane will be looking for Eriksen to provide them service to put away the goals against Arsenal.
After being benched again for a big away game, Alexandre Lacazette needs to be starting for Arsenal on Saturday. It will be his first NLD and he will be looking to get Arsenal 3 points out of it.
Lacazette was benched against Liverpool earlier in the season, as Arsenal lost 4-0, and was also benched against Man City, where Arsenal lost 3-1. He did come in as a sub and score the single goal for the Gunners.
Lacazette’s movement and agility will cause trouble for a Spurs backline, which will be without Toby Alderweireld. Lacazette can be the main difference in such a big game like this, especially if Arsenal are only handed a few opportunities.
After marking his first international goal with France this past week, Lacazette will be looking to mark his first goal in a NLD.
My prediction is the match will be a cagey affair with a limited amount of opportunities for both teams. Arsenal will look to counter at Tottenham hard and since Alderweireld is out through injury, I can see Alexis Sanchez popping up with a goal.
On the other end, I think Tottenham will have early chances against Arsenal’s shaky defense. Like so many other recent derby’s, I think Tottenham will be rewarded a penalty by Mike Dean (A Tottenham fan) that Harry Kane converts.
The game will end a 1-1 draw full of controversy and a must-win game for both teams will end up as a draw like some derby’s in the past.