Arsenal will be hopeful of all three points when they host local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby on Saturday (17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
The Gunners have been a little unconvincing in the early weeks of the campaign. They have drawn three of their first five league matches, while they were also comprehensively outplayed by Borussia Dortmund in a 2-0 away defeat in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s (pictured) side did, however, produce something close to their best in a strong 3-0 win away to Aston Villa last weekend. Mesut Ozil was restored to his preferred central attacking midfield role and was at the heart of Arsenal’s excellent first-half performance, scoring the first and providing the assist for Danny Welbeck on the second.
Arsenal played with an attacking verve that had previously been absent with Ozil limited to an unsuited wide role and new signing Alexis Sanchez still finding his feet in the Premier League. With Ozil in the centre and Welbeck offering a threat in behind, Arsenal suddenly looked far more dangerous. Theo Walcott will add further pace when he does return from injury.
The Gunners look less well-stocked in other areas. Wenger was unable to add a holding player to his midfield options over the summer, leaving him with just Mathieu Flamini and the fast slowing Mikel Arteta as shields for the back four. The departure of Thomas Vermaelen and an injury to new arrival Mathieu Debuchy have left defensive resources stretched.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Debuchy (ankle), Nacho Monreal (back), Olivier Giroud (ankle), Serge Gnabry (knee) and Theo Walcott (knee) for this match, while Yaya Sanogo (hamstring) is also unlikely to take part.
Spurs have made an inconsistent start to the season under new coach Mauricio Pochettino. They won their opening two fixtures before falling to two defeats and a draw in their subsequent three matches. They lost 1-0 at home to West Bromwich Albion last weekend.
It was an incredibly frustrating match for the White Hart Lane faithful, who watched on with irritation as their side laboured against well-organised opponents. Spurs were slow and sloppy in possession, while West Brom defended stoutly and always carried a threat on the break. James Morrison’s 74th-minute strike saw the Baggies take all three points.
Pochettino did an excellent job at Southampton last season, leading them to an 8th place finish with an energetic, high-pressing style that produced attractive and effective football. He made a near-immediate impact on the south coast, but the early signs are that it will take a little more time for his approach to bear fruit at Tottenham.
Defensive mistakes have cost Spurs points in the early weeks of the season. In attack, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli look to have established themselves as the go-to attacking midfield trio, but the place of former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor could come under threat if he is unable to find the back of the net with greater regularity.
Pochettino will definitely be without the injured Kyle Walker (stomach) for the short trip to the Emirates, but he otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
Arsenal were victorious in all three of the meetings between the sides last season. They won 1-0 home and away in the league and 2-0 at home in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Arsenal have won four of the last five league encounters at the Emirates. The last 10 meetings between the sides at all venues have seen five wins for Arsenal and three for Spurs.
Arsenal were more defensively minded than normal in both of last season’s league fixtures between the sides, but should not be expected to employ similar tactics on Saturday. Wenger will have taken note of the ease with which Liverpool cut through the Spurs defence with swift, sharp attacks, and with this in mind, could select both Welbeck and Sanchez.
There will be a degree to which Spurs are looking forward to the trip to the Emirates. They should at least have a little more space to work in against a side unlikely to adopt as defensive an approach as West Brom or their midweek Capital One Cup opponents Nottingham Forest. They will, though, need to be better defensively to get a positive result.
We expect to see more goals than in the fixtures between the sides last season, but still believe that Arsenal are the most likely victors.
- Back Arsenal to win on the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market @ best odds of 13/5 with Ladbrokes.
- There has been at least one goal scored inside the opening half-hour in four of the last five meetings between the sides at the Emirates, while Pochettino’s Southampton side conceded in the 22nd minute in their trip to this stadium last season. Back under 28 minutes on the time of first goal market @ 37/40 with BetVictor.