Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, Saturday September 27th, 5.30pm
by Karl Hofer.
It may be early days, but Spurs are going to have to roll their sleeves up and halt a run of derby-day disappointments if they want to divert their season away from an inexorable slide.
Arsenal overcame their bitter rivals on both occasions in the league last season, winning 1-0 both times to condemn former managers Andre Villa-Boas and Tim Sherwood to a loss each in the most important match on their fixture list.
A win would catapult Spurs ahead of Wenger’s men, but ominously the last time they claimed the spoils at Arsenal was in 2010 when they came from behind to win 3-2, which was their first away-day victory in the North London derby in 17 years.
For his part Pochettino is playing down the importance of the game to the Lillywhites season, saying: “We are in a good way. When I arrived here, I knew the situation – I knew that maybe there would be some ups and downs at the start of a new period. It’s always different when you arrive at a new club with different players and you need time to get to know each other. I’m not worrying about the situation. I believe at the moment we need to have more points to reflect the table. It’s the beginning of the season, it’s not how we start it’s how we finish.”
That may be true, but if Spurs were able to upset the odds it could prove to be the catalyst to their season.
To do so they will surely have to draw Arsenal on to them and counter behind their advanced full-backs, the way Dortmund did so effectively in the Champions League last week, proving that last years flaws still remain for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.
But inviting players like former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez and the inspired Jack Wilshere to attack you has its obvious dangers, and the Spurs defence will need to perform better than it has thus far if they are to have a sporting chance.
Pochettino won’t be too worried about the club’s recent record on derby day, he’ll be keen to make some history all of his own. However the Argentine will hope his charges have learnt valuable lessons from what must have been a morale-sapping defeat to bottom of the table West Brom on Sunday, whilst confidence must be high with the Gunners after impressively sweeping aside what was a high-flying Aston Villa side 0-3.
ARSENAL: 3/4 DRAW: 27/10 TOTTENHAM: 10/3
Draw/Arsenal: 7/2 Tottenham/Draw: 13/1 Arsenal/Draw: 13/1
Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham: 7/1, Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham: 7/1, Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham: 14/1
Arsenal 0-0 Tottenham: 10/1, Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham: 13/2, Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham: 12/1
Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham: 14/1, Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham: 14/1, Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham: 35/1
Sanchez 5/1, Welbeck 5/1, Ramsey 6/1, Adebayor 13/2, Eriksen 10/1, Lamela 11/1
BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Arsenal to come from behind to win: 8/1
(Odds courtesy of PaddyPower)
FROM THE ARCHIVES…
Few derbies deliver the goods like the North London derby has a tendency to do. Over the years we’ve had some classic, high-scoring affairs with breath-taking goals aplenty.
Here BOBBY has searched back through the archives to deliver you three of the best;
Tottenham 3-1 Arsenal, FA Cup Semi-Final, April 14th 1991
The first FA Cup semi-final played at Wembley is one never to be forgotten by Spurs fans. In a season fraught with poor league form on the pitch and financial difficulties off it, Tottenham managed to turn the form book on its head to record a famous victory in the derby.
Paul Gascoigne had single handily dragged Spurs through the competition with some virtuoso performances and it was fitting that he should open the scoring with a scintillating free-kick; the finest in the history of the FA Cup according to boss Terry Venables (you can see it below).
Tottenham had saved their best form for the FA Cup that year and this match against the eventual league champions was no different. A mixture of slack defending and poor goalkeeping led to Gary Lineker scoring Spurs’ other two goals either side of an Alan Smith header for the Gunners, as Spurs denied their rivals the double.
Spurs went on to lift the Cup, although Gascoigne’s second famous kick of the competition, at Forest’s Gary Charles, landed the England star on a stretcher and denied him the opportunity of climbing the Wembley steps.
Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal, League Cup semi-final replay, March 4th 1987
It took 270 minutes of League Cup semi-final football before, against the odds, Arsenal emerged triumphant in a season when Spurs – third in the league and beaten by Coventry in the FA Cup final – came quite close to winning everything but actually won nothing.
Tottenham won the first leg at Highbury 1-0 and looked Wembley bound when they led the second leg by the same scoreline at the half – when, as legend has it, ticket details for the final were announced to home fans. But two goals in 15 minutes from Viv Anderson and Niall Quinn brought the scores level on aggregate and, with extra time unable to separate the sides and no provision for a penalty shootout, the tie went to a replay three days later.
The venue for the third encounter was decided on a toss of a coin, and that was almost a draw, too: Spurs manager David Pleat said that when the coin fell to the ground it got stuck, almost upright, in the mud, but the referee adjudged it was leaning Spurs’ way so the decider would be at White Hart Lane.
Clive Allen put Spurs a goal up for the third successive game, but the game turned after the introduction of unlikely hero Ian Allinson for the adored but injured Charlie Nicholas. In the 82nd minute Allinson struck a shot that zipped through the legs of Richard Gough and past Ray Clemence to level things, and then in stoppage-time another Allinson shot deflected into the path of David Rocastle, who promptly swept Arsenal into the final to the jubilation of the away end. Uniquely, Arsenal beat Spurs three times at White Hart Lane that season.
Allinson’s gallant intervention was repaid in strange style by George Graham; he wasn’t in the squad for the victory over Liverpool in the final and in fact never started another game for Arsenal before being released at the end of the season.
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, Division One, 15th October 1963
67,857 crammed into Highbury stadium for the derby in 1963, filling it to capacity – and they weren’t to be disappointed.
An incredible first half saw Jimmy Greaves open the scoring as Spurs stormed into a 4-2 lead at the interval with further goals from Bobby Smith (2) and Dave Mackay – George Eastham twice pulling the Gunners within two in response.
With only five minutes remaining Tottenham still held the two goal lead acquired in the first half but Arsenal pulled one back on 85 through Joe Baker and then equalised with a Geoff Strong header from a corner with only twenty seconds of injury time remaining. For the third time in five years the North London derby had ended 4-4.
In the end the point was sufficient to take Tottenham to the top of the First Division, but after that finish it was Arsenal who felt like the victors on the night.