Two sides whose activity in the transfer market could not have been more different meet on Sunday (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports 1) when Arsenal host Tottenham Hotspur in the 176th North London derby.
Arsenal have money available to spend but have endured a frustrating summer, missing out on the likes of Luiz Gustavo and Luis Suarez and so far signing just the France U20 striker Yaya Sanogo and former midfielder Mathieu Flamini, both on free transfers.
The Emirates crowd signalled their annoyance with a chorus of boos following Arsenal’s opening day defeat to Aston Villa, but with transfer deadline day close time is running out for the club to secure a big signing.
Despite the lack of investment, Arsenal have won three on the trot in all competitions since the Villa defeat, recording a comfortable 5-0 aggregate victory over Fenerbache in the Champions League qualifying round and winning 3-1 away at Fulham last weekend.
Those performances showed that Arsenal are not a bad side and in fact, are slightly improved over last season’s incarnation, with the likes of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santiago Cazorla fully adapted to the league and ready to show their best. But with other teams improving at a greater rate, Arsenal are still in danger of being left behind.
Podolski scored twice in the victory over Fulham, but was added to an extensive injury list when he pulled up hurt early in the second half of Tuesday’s second leg with Fenerbache. The resulting hamstring injury will keep him out of action for up to ten weeks, and he joins the likes of Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen on the sidelines.
Arsene Wenger (pictured) does, at least, welcome back central defender Laurent Koscielny, who missed the victory over Fulham through suspension. His return will see Bacary Sagna move back to his natural right-back berth after two matches in the centre. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere will shake off minor complaints to start in midfield.
In direct contrast to Arsenal, Tottenham have spent big this summer, using a combination of the increased revenue bestowed upon Premier League clubs by the new television deal and the expected windfall from Gareth Bale’s protracted move to Real Madrid to greatly strengthen a squad who finished just a point behind Arsenal last season.
Spurs will clearly miss Bale – as any team would a player with such explosive qualities – but having strengthened all other areas of the team, and signed as close a like-to-like replacement as was possible in Roma’s Erik Lamela, should be able to provide a more varied attacking threat this season.
Roberto Soldado scored 59 goals in three seasons for Valencia prior to his £26 million summer move and has hit the ground running in North London, scoring twice against Dinamo Tbilisi in Tottenham’s Europa League qualifier and dispatching the penalties that have taken them to a pair of 1-0 victories in the league.
Spurs have not displayed a great deal of attacking fluidity in their league matches to date, but that will surely come with time, especially with the likes of Lamela and Christian Erikson set to join Soldado and another new recruit, Nacir Chadli, before the transfer deadline. Given time to gel, they look to have a myriad of strong final third options.
Tottenham have already been very impressive in midfield, where Paulinho and Etienne Capoue have slotted in effortlessly, adding even more power and strength to their options. With Mousa Dembele and Sandro also in competition for places, few midfields will relish facing their Spurs counterparts this season.
Andre Villas Boas will definitely be without Bale for the visit to the Emirates, with the Madrid-bound forward having missed training this week as the final details of the deal are concluded. Aaron Lennon is also a doubt after missing last week’s win over Swansea with an ankle injury. Andros Townsend will most likely deputise in his absence.
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
Arsenal have won three of the last five meetings between these sides at the Emirates, but Tottenham hold the overall edge in the last ten league meetings at all venues, winning four to Arsenal’s three, while three matches have ended level.
Arsenal won last season’s equivalent fixture 5-2, taking advantage of Emmanuel Adebayor’s dismissal to run riot against a shellshocked Spurs side who disappeared without a trace, but are unlikely to find their opponents as amenable this time around.
It will take time for all of Tottenham’s new recruits to bed in properly, but on the evidence of their matches to date they will certainly not be a pushover on Sunday. With a strong, mobile midfield, Spurs could well dominate the middle of the pitch and in doing so prevent Arsenal from creating the chances necessary to secure victory.
- The last eight league matches between these sides have ended with three or more goals, but with Spurs looking very solid so far this season we expect a tighter match this time around. Buck the trend and back under 2.5 goals @ 6/5 with BetVictor.
- Giroud and Soldado have each opened the scoring in both of their respective clubs’ matches in the league this season. Bet on Olivier Giroud or Roberto Soldado to score first @ 5/2 with William Hill.