It’s time to light up the blue touchpaper once more for the North London Derby. But there’s another element of intrigue this time, with both teams sitting at the top of the table ahead of their eagerly anticipated meeting.
Arsenal leads the pack heading into this one following a magnificent season in which they have won six out of seven games, with their only defeat coming at the hands of Manchester United, while Tottenham sit third and just a point behind their rivals after an unbeaten campaign.
Mikel Arteta’s team have come a long way since being pipped to a top four berth by Tottenham Hotspur in May, when they were defeated 3-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a key match.
Before, going on to another defeat at Newcastle, a result that sealed their fate of enduring yet another season without Champions League football.
The Gunners will be anxious to avenge that heartbreaking defeat, and they have the personnel to strike Spurs where it hurts after being inspired by Arteta this season – and with a fresh look side with good additions.
New signing made my both sides have amped up their squads and they are looking stronger than ever, heading into this derby.
In previous years – certainly at the beginning of the top flight’s inception, Arsenal were the pace-setters and regularly challenging for the title and top four spots, while Spurs were languishing in mid-table for many years.
But now Arsenal will be careful of underestimating Spurs, who haven’t looked like world-beaters this season with some dubious performances, but they have yet to taste loss, and the hosts will be looking to change that on Saturday.
Conte’s team has been able to grind out results, including a last-minute point against rivals Chelsea when defeat appeared certain, and they’re currently on a run of four wins in five, the most recent of which was a 6-2 thrashing of Leicester.
So, while it’s still early days, both sides are in good form, and it’s possible that this is the strongest both sides have been ahead of a North London Derby in Premier League history.
This fixture is always exciting. That would be the case if it was 19th vs 20th.
Given that a win for either side would keep or propel them to the top of the table, there is a lot at stake here and both teams know that victory would lay down a real marker for the season.