Super Sunday: Tottenham host Arsenal in North London Derby
Arsenal face big a test of their Premier League title credentials today when they make the short trip to arch-rivals, Tottenham.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, seeking their first league title since 2004, started the weekend five points clear of second-placed Manchester City.
Fifth-played Spurs are vying to win four consecutive home league matches against Arsenal for the first time.
“I think the players are in a good emotional state,” said Arteta.
“They are excited, they are enjoying playing together and obviously we are in a good position. We have to now improve a lot of things and maintain a lot of the good things that have taken us this far.”
However, Arteta did admit that they might have to change their “behaviour” after the club were charged with failing to control their players. That was for their angry reaction to not getting a penalty in Monday’s FA Cup win over Oxford United.
“I prefer not to comment on that [charge],” he said. “Anything we can do to improve we will always have a conversation with our players, the staff, as a club as well to see what we can do better, if we have to change any behaviour.”
Spurs boss Antonio Conte has called on both sets of players to respect referee Craig Pawson this weekend.
“You have to show respect in every situation and especially also with the referee because I know very well the difficulty to be a referee, to take decisions,” the Italian said.
“I think to intimidate or to create a bad atmosphere is not fair. I don’t like this. I hate the people that try to do it. Don’t forget that we are talking always about a game of football.”
Arsenal are on an 11-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, while Spurs have lost five of their last 11, including October’s 3-1 loss at Emirates Stadium.
Forward Richarlison and midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur face fitness tests, while Lucas Moura remains out with a tendon injury.
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka was forced off at Oxford in the FA Cup on Monday, but he is likely to be available.
Forwards Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson are still sidelined with respective knee and thigh problems.
On the pitch, it might be far less of a contest. Arsenal are a much better team, and for most of the season Tottenham’s performances have just not been good enough.
Spurs have failed to score in just one of their previous 17 top-flight fixtures with Arsenal – a 2-0 defeat in November 2017.
Tottenham have lost three of their past four Premier League home games, winning the other. Spurs have scored 27 of their 37 Premier League goals in the second half of matches this season, more than any other team.
Conversely, they have scored just once in the first half of their past 13 fixtures in all competitions. That was Harry Kane’s goal versus Leeds in November.
Antonio Conte has won only two of his 10 matches as a manager against Arsenal (D4, L4). Harry Kane is one short of equalling Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s leading scorer with 266 goals for the club.
Kane is also two shy of 200 Premier League goals and is aiming to become the third player to reach that milestone after Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer. He has nine goals in eight Premier League home games against Arsenal.