The Premier League 2023-24 season will witness its first North London derby when Arsenal hosts Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
To say history is heavily tipped on Arsenal’s side would not be an exaggeration because the last time Tottenham Hotspur won at the Emirates in the league was in November 2010. It means Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta has never lost against Spurs in the Premier League at the Emirates - either as a player or manager.
The North London rivals will enter the match on equal points - 13, but Spurs finds itself higher in the table in second position courtesy of a superior goal difference. Arsenal is in fourth.
Both teams have enjoyed an excellent start to the Premier League season and are yet to be beaten, which puts Arsenal and Spurs on an equal footing heading into the match. It makes the impending tactical battle between Arteta and Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou - all the more exciting.
Picking up from last season
Arsenal finally thought it would end its Premier League drought last season and become champion of England for the first time since 2004. However, a drop in form in the latter part saw Manchester City overtake the Gunners and retain its title.
Even though Arteta lost out on the race, there were several promising signs from this young Arsenal team. Creating a solid foundation with a core group of players seemed to be on Arteta’s agenda, and the work continues from last season.
The Gunners started the Premier League season with a 2-1 win against Nottingham Forest and followed it up with a win against Crystal Palace with a similar scoreline.
While there was a minor hiccup in a 2-2 draw against Fulham, Arteta’s men returned to winning ways in style, securing a statement 3-1 victory against Manchester United. The Gunners maintained momentum with a 1-0 win against Everton.
Arsenal comes into the Tottenham match on the back of a dominant performance in the Champions League, where the Gunners marked their return to Europe’s premier club competition with a 4-0 win against PSV Eindhoven.
As far as morale is concerned, there should be plenty in the Arsenal camp as it prepares to face its city rivals, backed by strong home support.
The monumental task of rebuilding
Postecoglou does not share Arteta’s luxury of familiarity. Unlike Arteta, he finds himself at a new club and has the job of rebuilding Tottenham after a disastrous performance by the club last season.
Tottenham finished eighth last season, which means no European football for the London club in the current season, which can be a boon for the club.
Given the circumstances, Postecoglou has done well to steer the rudderless ship and has crossed the first hurdle of ensuring that his team has a strong start to the season. With star-forward Harry Kane departing for Bayern Munich in the summer transfer window, it was going to be a difficult prospect, but Tottenham has coped well under Postecoglou’s tutelage.
Postecoglou did not have a perfect start as Tottenham started the season with a 2-2 draw against Brentford but any doubts about lagging behind were removed with a 2-0 win against Manchester United, where the London club was superior in every department.
Since then, Tottenham has been on a three-match winning run.
It enjoyed a fairly easy outing against Bournemouth and Burnley, winning by a 2-0 and 5-2 scoreline, respectively, but it was the match against Sheffield United that caught everyone’s eye.
Having conceded a goal in the 73rd minute, Postecoglou’s side looked like it was headed for its first defeat against the Blades. But two goals in the eighth and tenth minute of second-half additional time by Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski guided Tottenham to a dramatic win and ensured its unbeaten status in the league this season.
With both teams high on confidence, Sunday’s North London derby has all the signs of becoming a Premier League classic.
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