It’s derby day in north London on Sunday and this one has all the ingredients to be one of the most high-profile derbies in a long time, given how well Arsenal and Spurs have fared in the league this season.
The hosts are fifth in the league, three points shy of third-placed Tottenham.
Laurent Koscielny could make his first appearance for the Gunners since May after injury. Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal will be missing though as they remain on the treatment table.
Mauricio Pochettino has the entire squad fit apart from Moussa Dembele, Davinson Sanchez and Victor Wanyama.
We take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the north London derby.
EMERY’S OPPORTUNITY TO ESTABLISH HIMSELF
Unai Emery can boast of an impressive start to his career at Arsenal after stamping an 11-match unbeaten run which included an eight-game winning streak.
However, the fact remains that the Gunners are yet to defeat a top six team, having faced three of them so far. Arsenal succumbed to defeat against fellow London neighbours Chelsea and champions Manchester City at the beginning of the season and shared the spoils with Liverpool last month.
A victory against an in-form Tottenham – who hammered Chelsea and edged past Inter Milan in a span of four days – could make a strong case for Emery’s status as a top manager in the Premier League.
A win in the derby will see Arsenal draw level with their local rivals and help them gain status as genuine title contenders.
SPURS’ ATTACKING QUARTET ON SONG
The fearsome attacking quartet of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane started together for the first time this season last week against Chelsea, and to devastating effect.
Spurs absolutely dismantled their rivals after a fine show by each of these players who were all involved in at least one goal and will be looking to repeat their performance in the derby.
Eriksen is one of the best creators in the Premier League and can conjure a lot of problems for the shaky Arsenal defence.
Alli has had a mixed bag in the league so far but was pivotal in Chelsea’s demolition. Son can be dangerous on the counter as evidenced by his sublime goal against the Blues, which followed an impressive dribble by the South Korean after a quick transition.
One of the best strikers in the world, Kane has built on his successful World Cup and bagged seven goals this season, recovering after a poor start. The Englishman was on target in the derby against Chelsea and will be looking to hurt his north London neighbours.
OZIL NEEDS THIS FIXTURE, THIS FIXTURE NEEDS OZIL
Mesut Ozil may have scored three goals and provided one this season but the German has not had the best run after being handed the number 10 jersey.
The 30-year-old has been shut out by teams such as Cardiff and Crystal Palace quite comfortably and has been pretty average in the remaining fixtures – sans the tie against Leicester City.
The absence of Dembele means Ozil will be handed an advantage in the midfield battle and hence a chance to drop a masterclass and re-establish himself as one of the league’s best attacking midfielders.
Should Emery decide to rest Alexander Lacazette – who is just back from an injury – Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will be deployed as a number nine and the creative burden will fall completely on the German schemer.
His performance will be key in determining the outcome of the derby.
The fixture rarely passes by without incident, and here, we look back at five memorable matches between the two sides.
TOTTENHAM 3 ARSENAL 1, FA Cup semi-final, April 14, 1991
Less than 12 months after starring in England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals, Paul Gascoigne took centre stage again in Tottenham’s FA Cup clash against Arsenal.
In the first-ever FA Cup last-four tie at Wembley, Gascoigne made his mark after just five minutes with a free-kick, still celebrated today, as one of the finest seen in the world’s oldest cup competition.
Gascoigne, who had barely played in the weeks building up to the game following stomach surgery, fired in a 35-yard thunderbolt to leave David Seaman with no chance.
Gary Lineker doubled Tottenham’s lead before Alan Smith grabbed one back for the shell-shocked Gunners. Lineker struck again in the second half to put the game out of Arsenal’s reach as Spurs booked their place in the final.
TOTTENHAM 2 ARSENAL 2, Premier League, April 25, 2004
Arsenal headed to White Hart Lane knowing that a draw would be enough to seal the championship, and Arsene Wenger’s side raced into a 2-0 lead when Patrick Vieira converted from close range after only three minutes.
Robert Pires added a second for the champions-elect following a blistering counter-attack 10 minutes before the interval.
Tottenham struck back in the second half, with Jamie Redknapp scoring shortly after the hour mark. Jens Lehmann then gave away a daft penalty in the closing stages, which was converted by Robbie Keane.
But Spurs could not prevent their rivals from sealing the title at White Hart Lane, as the Gunners later ended their historic title-winning campaign with 26 victories, 12 draws, and, crucially, no defeats.
TOTTENHAM 4 ARSENAL 5, Premier League, November 13, 2004
Six months after winning the league at White Hart Lane, the Gunners returned to Tottenham for another spell-binding encounter, and what would prove the highest-scoring derby of the Premier League era.
The hosts took a surprise lead through a Noureddine Naybet volley, only for Thierry Henry to equalise. Lauren then struck from the penalty spot with Vieira adding a third for Arsenal.
Jermain Defoe looked to have given Spurs a lifeline before Freddie Ljungberg restored Arsenal’s two-goal lead. Ledley King headed home, Pires scored, and then Fredi Kanoute netted the ninth goal of the match, and the seventh in 33 frantic second-half minutes. Wenger’s side held on to seal three astonishing points.
TOTTENHAM 5 ARSENAL1, League Cup semi-final second leg, January 22, 2008
Spurs headed into the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final without a win against their rivals in nearly nine years. But where David Pleat, Glenn Hoddle, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol and Clive Allen all tried, and failed, Juande Ramos masterminded Tottenham’s first victory against Wenger’s Arsenal since 1999.
Remarkably, Spurs were 4-0 up by the hour mark following strikes from Jermaine Jenas, Keane, Aaron Lennon and a Nicklas Bendtner own goal.
Substitute Emmanuel Adebayor gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope when he scored with 20 minutes remaining, but Steed Malbranque put the finishing touches on a fine win in injury time to send the home supporters wild.
ARSENAL 4 TOTTENHAM 4, Premier League, October 29, 2008
When Harry Redknapp was a manager, and not eating creepy crawlies in the Australian outback, he earned a stunning point in his first game as Spurs boss.
Redknapp appeared to be heading for a defeat after William Gallas, Adebayor and Robin van Persie all scored in 22 second-half minutes to give the hosts a 4-2 lead.
But Jenas pulled one back in the 89th minute for the visitors before Lennon latched on to Luka Modric’s deflected shot, which rebounded off the upright, to equalise with virtually the last kick of the game.
It’s a mouthwatering weekend of action ahead in the Premier League with both the Merseyside and North London derbies to enjoy.
Both games make for a mammoth Sunday of football, but ahead of that there’s plenty to keep fans intrigued on Saturday, with leaders Manchester City and Man United in action, with Chelsea the early kick-off on Sunday ahead of the derby duels.
Here we look ahead to what’s in store for all three teams this weekend.
RED DEVILS CAN’T AFFORD TO SIN
Times are pretty tough at Old Trafford. The football on the field is dross under Jose Mourinho, who is picking fights with anyone and everyone, and across the divide, noisy neighbours Man City are making quite a racket.
When the Red Devils lifted their 20th domestic English top-flight title in 2012/13, City had three. They lead the way this year and if back to back triumphs are secured, they will have doubled their tally to six in the time since United last tasted victory.
Yes, Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure was probably always going to have a detrimental impact on the club, but United are slowly and surely betraying the swashbuckling and entertaining values of attacking football the club is built on.
And while Mourinho has delivered trophies in the form of the League Cup and Europa League, as well as a highest league finish of second since Ferguson stepped down last season, the football has continued to be ponderous and porous.
The international break seemed to offer little respite as Crystal Palace earned a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford last week. United flapped and floundered against the struggling Eagles and drawing a blank this weekend is simply not an option against third-bottom Southampton.
Goals simply must be plundered against hosts who have just one win to their name – the fewest in the league – this season.
United fans have accused Mourinho of plenty of sins against their club this season. Against the Saints, they must find salvation.
TINKERMAN HOPING TO FASHION AN UPSET
Chelsea had been nearly flawless in sauntering to a 12-game unbeaten start to the season. Former banker Maurizio Sarri has certainly enriched the lives of Blues fans after last season’s tame fifth-place finish under Antonio Conte.
It’s all a far cry from being swept aside 2-0 by champions City in the curtain-raising Community Shield encounter during his maiden game in charge.
But while Chelsea and Sarri have earned rave reviews, a first defeat of his reign was duly delivered last week as London rivals Tottenham profited at Wembley from David Luiz’s generous defending, the Portuguese enduring a particularly difficult day as Spurs swept to a comfortable 3-1 win.
A first defeat for the Blues nevertheless saw them slip to fourth, leapfrogged by their victors.
This weekend provides Sarri’s Chelsea with a tantalising test of their title mettle as they welcome a familiar face to Stamford Bridge in Claudio Ranieri.
Fulham, at face value, might not pose much of a threat to the hosts but the man known as the Tinkerman tailored a first win in nearly two months last week and just their second Premier League triumph of the season – their 4-2 win over Burnley had come nearly three months previously.
Having replaced Slavisa Jokanovic, Ranieri immediately stemmed the flow of blood from Fulham’s wounds with the 3-2 victory over fellow strugglers Southampton.
Can the Italian get them further along the road to recovery by stitching up his former club on Saturday?
BLUE MOON COULD BE SKY HIGH
As Chelsea creak, City continue to climb. Their 4-0 hammering of West Ham last week saw them ascend to 40 goals for the season, 12 more than anyone else and scored at a rate of just over three a game.
They face high-flying Bournemouth on Saturday who will head to the Etihad hell-bent on playing the attractive brand of football they are becoming famed for under Eddie Howe.
But with the embarrassing amount of firepower Pep Guardiola has at his disposal, you’d still expect the champions to come out on top in this one, with the added caveat that the teams closest to them face tricky tests.
Both Liverpool and Spurs have derby dates with Everton and Arsenal respectively, so no doubt Guardiola will be looking at securing the victory that could see his rampant side open up the gap between them and the chasing pack.
The Gunners are the joint second highest scorers in the division behind City, on 28 goals, and host Spurs at the Emirates – with Unai Emery really beginning to get to grips with the Premier League. The Spaniard revealed this week that hit British TV show Peaky Blinders is aiding his English, and he will hope his side can close the gap to Tottenham with victory.
Another manager finding his feet at a new club is Marco Silva at Everton. The Toffees have found themselves in a sticky patch in recent years but are currently riding high in sixth under Silva. A 2-1 defeat to Man United is the only blemish on their record in the last two months.