I can not beleive that is is already Wednesday of a North London Derby week and I have not yet begun blogging on it – probably highlights how the Nations League break has driven me too boredom.
Hopefully England’s relegation might see Gareth Southgate give fringe players and youngsters a run-out rather then the same old boring 14 or 15 names. Relegation could benefit England’s future.
Anyway, we move on.
So Saturday we face Spurs at home.
Since our 21 game unbeaten run against Tottenham ended in 2008, the North London Derby has more often than not been “home advantage”.
At White Hart Lane, Tottenham have lost just 1 of 14 Premier League fixtures – winning 9.
And our record at the Emirates is even better – also losing just once in 14 games and winning 8 times.
Two away wins in 28 North London Derby games. But of course, we go into the fixture knowing anything can happen.
And with it being a 12:30pm Saturday kick off, the result will either make or break your weekend.
Win and you will be on the beer in celebration. You will riding a cloud for the weekend and float into work on Monday morning with a smile on your face.
Lose and there will be a cloud over you for the weekend, and Monday you will be keeping your head down hoping no-one asks you about football.
Arsenal’s key player will be Thomas Partey.
Hopefully Partey should be fully fit following his most recent injury. He was selected by Ghana for the latest international games, but withdrew on the eve of the first game with injury – hopefully this was no more than a pre-caution.
They really do need to bring in restrictions on national teams calling up players returning from injury.
Partey has played just once in our last 6 games. Was there any need for him to be caleld up to the Ghana squad for friendlies? It shows the national team not looking long term – Partey has a history of breaking down again soon after an injury if rushed back.
It would have made more sense for him to rest and recover in North London for two weeks, building fitness for the World Cup rather than risk playing him and him having a recurrance of the injury which could rule him out the World Cup.
My mind goes back to December 2020.
Partey had missed four games through injury. He was then rushed back for the North London Derby but lastest just 45 minutes. Spurs scored their opener whilst Partey was limping off the field.
He went on to miss the next 9 games.
The big match up of the weekend will be Harry Kane v Thomas Partey.
Kane’s new role in Antonio Conte’s long-ball system is to drop deep and flick the ball on to Spurs’ speedy widemen.
If he drags a central defender with him, it gives Son, Kulusevski, Lucas Moura and Richarlison the space to run into.
To protect against this, it should be Partey that challenges Kane when he drops deep. That will allow Gabriel and William Saliba to drop off and be in a better position to defend the flick on.
Tottenham’s midfield is also their weak point. I would expect Granit Xhaka and Martin Odergaard to be able to dominate even whilst Partey is focused on doing a job on Kane.
You stop the supply to Kane, you stop Tottenham.