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Arsenal vs. Tottenham: North London Derby match thread

Up the Arsenal!

Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

North London Derby day is here! Arsenal host Tottenham in an early season measuring stick match for both sides. The Gunners are currently top of the Premier League table, one point ahead of Spurs. Arsenal have played a slightly more difficult schedule, but neither side have exactly had to run the gamut of tough league opponents yet this season. So today’s match could tell us a great deal about whether the clubs are true contenders or just pretenders.

Tottenham haven’t won at Arsenal since 2010. Let’s hope that trend continues today. The clubs split the series last year. The Gunners prevailed 3-1 at the Emirates in the fall. Spurs won 3-0 in the spring in the match where Rob Holding’s shocking naivete doomed Arsenal’s Champions League aspirations.

So far this season, Arsenal are slightly underperforming their xG and xGA, scoring fewer goals and conceding more than you’d expect. Spurs, on the other hand, are overperforming. They are racking up results, sure, but not with the most convincing play. They’re being carried more by elite, probably not sustainable finishing from their top players, minus Son Heung-Min who hasn’t had a great start to the season in terms of scoring (hat trick against woeful Leicester aside). And that’s a bit scary given their 18 goals are second best in the Premier League.

I’m expecting Arsenal to dominate possession today and for Spurs to look to hit on the counter. Antonio Conte’s side is happy to collapse into a low block and play without the ball. We’ve seen that Mikel Arteta wants Arsenal to have the ball. The Gunners have been vulnerable to the counter generally and that goal from Spurs in particular. You know the one — Harry Kane drops deep to receive the ball, plays it wide into space for Son, Kulusevski, Richarlison, or somebody else to run onto, they carry it into the box and lay it across for someone to hit home. Will Mikel Arteta come up with a tactical wrinkle to make his side less vulnerable to the break?

Both managers have been coy with their injury reports. When asked about Thomas Partey, Alex Zinchenko, and Takehiro Tomiyasu’s availability, Mikel Arteta said “they are part of the team” in response, which reporters took to mean the trio were involved in the final day of training. Kieran Tierney is expected to be available after leaving Scotland duty early following a blow to the head. Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson, Cedric Soares, and Emile Smith Rowe are out long-term for the Gunners. UPDATE: Reiss Nelson is on the bench for the Gunners today.

For Conte’s side, Dejan Kulusevski might not be fit after picking up a muscle injury on international duty. Ben Davies sat out international duty for Wales after getting hurt in the Champions League a few weeks ago, but is thought to be available for selection. Hugo Lloris is in a similar boat — missed international duty but expected to play. Lucas Moura may miss out with a nagging injury.

Arsenal - Ramsdale, Zinchenko, Magalhaes, Saliba, White, Partey, Xhaka, Ødegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Jesus

Tottenham - Lloris, Royal, Romero, Dier, Lenglet, Perisic, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Richarlison, Son, Kane

WHAT: Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
WHEN: Saturday, October 1st, 7:30am EST/4:30am PST/12:30pm BST
WHERE: The Emirates Stadium, London
HOW TO WATCH: USA and Telemundo. Streaming online on NBC Sports.

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