One of the standout fixtures in the Premier League calendar will take place at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon as Arsenal welcome Tottenham Hotspur for the North London derby.
Arsenal are currently 10th in the table, having picked up just 38 points from 27 matches this season, while Tottenham occupy seventh, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand.
Arsenal will enter Sunday’s contest off the back of a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Olympiacos in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie, which has placed them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals.
The Gunners will more than likely have to win this season’s Europa League in order to be present in the 2021-22 Champions League as they currently sit down in 10th position in the table, 12 points off the top four.
Mikel Arteta’s side have won just 11 of their 27 league matches this season and suffered 11 defeats, which is just one fewer than Fulham in 18th and the same as struggling Brighton & Hove Albion.
The capital giants have had two recent impressive wins against Leeds United and Leicester City in England’s top flight, but they were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley at Turf Moor last weekend, with a mistake from Granit Xhaka allowing Chris Wood to cancel out an early goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arsenal are seven points behind seventh-placed Tottenham on the same number of matches, and it is incredibly difficult to imagine the Gunners finishing in a potential European spot, which as mentioned, places a lot of pressure on their current Europa League campaign.
Home form has been an issue this term, with Arteta’s side dropping points in eight of their 13 league matches at the Emirates Stadium, while they have not enjoyed their recent meetings with Tottenham, losing three of the last five fixtures between the two sides in all competitions.
Bukayo Saka has been a shining light for Arsenal this season but too many of the club’s experienced players have struggled for consistency, and it will be fascinating to see how much money is available for transfers this summer as investment is needed to make them a top-four challenger once again.
The London giants are entering a key run of matches, facing Olympiacos in the second leg of their last-16 Europa League tie next week before taking on West Ham United and Liverpool in back-to-back league matches, and they will be determined to halt Tottenham’s top-four challenge this weekend.
Like Arsenal, Spurs will enter Sunday’s North London derby off the back of a positive result in the Europa League, with Harry Kane scoring twice in a 2-0 home success over Dinamo Zagreb.
In all competitions, Tottenham have now won their last five matches, including their last three in the Premier League against Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace.
There was a lot of pressure on the team to pick up a strong result against Palace last weekend, and an excellent performance saw Kane and Gareth Bale both net braces in a 4-1 success.
Arsenal have a fully-fit squad for the North London derby, with Emile Smith Rowe making his return from injury as a substitute against Olympiacos in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Arteta is not expected to make too many changes for Sunday’s contest, although Pablo Mari should return at the heart of the defence, while Nicolas Pepe is likely to be given the nod over Willian.
Martin Odegaard should again feature as the number 10 behind Aubameyang, meanwhile, with Saka, Thomas Partey and Xhaka also set to retain their spots against Mourinho’s side.
As for Tottenham, Giovani Lo Celso remains a slight doubt with a back problem, but Kane should be available despite suffering a knock to his knee during Thursday’s clash with Dinamo.
Kane, who is the leading goalscorer in North London derbies with 11, had an ice pack on the injured area in the latter stages of the Europa League contest, but Mourinho revealed after the game that his star player should be fit.
There will be changes from Thursday’s match, with Matt Doherty, Toby Alderweireld, Sergio Reguilon and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg set to return, while Bale and Lucas Moura should also be in the XI.
Harry Winks was handed a start against Palace last weekend, but Tanguy Ndombele could get the nod alongside Hojbjerg for the North London derby.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Mari, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Pepe; Aubameyang
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Doherty, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Ndombele; Bale, Lucas, Son; Kane
Arsenal are winless in fve of their meetings with Tottenham Hotspur in all competition. They’ve drawn two and lost three. However, the Gunners have never gone six match without a win against their North London rivals before.
2. Spurs are looking to win three consecutive league games against Arsenal for the first time since October 1974, while victory at the Emirates today would give them their first league double over the north London club since 1992-93.
3. Arsenal have lost just two of their last 35 hime league games against Tottenham, winning 19 matches and drawn 14, going down in May 1993 and in November 2010.
4. The Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool has finished as draw (24 drawn matches) more than the North London derby in the Premier League history (23 matches drawn). Meanwhile, the north London derby has seen both teams find the net more often than any other fixture in the Premier League.
5. The Gunners have lost just one of their last seven home Premeir League games this season, though this was in their last game against Manchester City. The Emirates outfit have lost five home league games already this season, last losing more in a single campaing back in the 1994-95 season.