Talking Soccer: North London Derby set to ignite rivalry

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud, left, celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game with teamnate Francis Coquelin during their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

In this edition of Talking Soccer, I want to look ahead and preview the most exciting match in the Premier League this Sunday: the North London Derby between Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal.

Not only is this Derby one of the best historically, it has also shaped out to be the only one of much importance this season due to Manchester United’s pitiful performance in the league and the sad reality that is Everton.

While Arsenal sits second in the league table, it is only separated by two goals in goal differential from top dog Manchester City. Although the Spurs sit fifth in the table with 20 points, they are just three points shy of the first three teams with 23.

The matchup is significant due to a many factors, including, but not limited to, Tottenham’s pitiful end to last season to finish below Arsenal in the Premier League, Arsenal’s absolute abysmal form in November, and the title implications it could draw later in the year.

Last year Tottenham surprised many by not only being above Arsenal in the table down the stretch, but also close behind league-leading Leicester, who only lost to one team all season.

As the final game of the season came, the Spurs looked set to finish above in the league table for the first time since their 1994-95 season.

The team floundered, however, as they lost 5-1 to a Newcastle United side. Newcastle had nothing to fight for, as they were being relegated regardless.

The loss signified the lopsided rivalry history shared by the two teams in the Premier League, and the memory will most definitely be seared into the minds of Tottenham ahead of this fixture.

For Arsenal, the game will come down to how well they can avoid their historic November woes.

For Arséne Wenger’s Gunners, the month has brought his lowest average points per match out of any month, only averaging 1.6 points per match.

This is compared to his best month of March where the side has averaged 2.2 points per match.

In no other month has Arsenal managed to average less than 1.9 points per match, showing that the month has been an anomaly in the great career of Wenger.

Both sides will most likely be contenders for the title as the year moves forward, so the three points in this match could ultimately be huge at the end of the year.

Toby Alderweireld is likely to miss the game with a knee nerve injury, and Harry Kane is also doubtful as a starter.

For Arsenal, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, and Theo Walcott could also miss the derby due to minor injuries.

The game looks to be very close between the two and could come down to the very wire, so I would suggest watching it as it will most likely come down to whichever side wants to win more and could have big implications in the Premier League season.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.