All change in north London as Arsenal prepare for Spurs showdown

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All eyes will be cast towards north London on Sunday for a derby that could have significant implications in the tussle for the Premier League title and the hunt for a top-four finish.

Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League will be just two points if Manchester City beat Manchester United on Saturday, while victory for Erik ten Hag’s side would put them five ahead of Spurs in the quest for Champions League football.

Having so much at stake is nothing new for clashes between Arsenal and Spurs, with a meeting at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last May being decisive in the two sides’ battle to clinch fourth spot, where a 3-0 win for the hosts saw the Gunners miss the chance to secure a return to Europe’s elite club competition.

Arsenal then lost to Newcastle United and saw Spurs leapfrog them to secure a top-four spot on the final day of the season, but Mikel Arteta’s side have responded superbly.

Gunning for glory

Arsenal’s pursuit of a first league title since 2003-04 has caught many by surprise this season, as has Tottenham’s inability to kick on having beaten their arch-rivals to Champions League football last term.

Since that loss to Spurs in May, Arsenal have won 15 of their 19 Premier League matches, picking up 47 points out of a possible 57, with losses coming in the aforementioned trip to Newcastle last season and at Old Trafford against United in September.

Spurs, meanwhile, have won 12 of 20 Premier League fixtures since the win against Arsenal, picking up 39 points from a possible 60 – six of which came in back-to-back victories to finish the 2021-22 season.

In attack, the two great rivals boast a similar record, with Arsenal scoring 45 goals in 19 matches and Spurs finding the net on 43 occasions, having played a game more, though five came in a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City on the final day of last season.

Defence is where Arsenal have shown the biggest improvement, conceding 17 goals in 19 matches – just 14 of which have been this season – while Spurs have conceded 25 goals in the same period,

Those improvements for Arsenal have put them 15 points better off than they were at the same stage last season, while Spurs have exactly the same points total as they did at the halfway mark last year.

Kane leading the way as Arsenal come of age

Unsurprisingly, England captain Harry Kane has the best goalscoring record since the two sides met at the back end of last season, scoring 17 goals in 20 games – 15 of which have come this season, only Erling Haaland (21) having more.

A lack of goals from alternative sources has been an issue, however, with Son Heung-min scoring six in the Premier League since May 13, 2022, and Richarlison yet to find the net for Spurs in his 10 Premier League appearances.

Arsenal’s top-scorer in the same period is Gabriel Martinelli (eight goals in 19 appearances), though Bukayo Saka is closely behind with six and Eddie Nketiah’s fine run since stepping up to replace the injured Gabriel Jesus leaves him with three goals in 17 appearances, only five of which have been as a starter.

Saka (seven) and Martinelli (three) both have more assists than Kane, Richarlison and Son (two), though the England captain’s tally of goals gives him the best minutes per goal/assist average of 105 minutes, with Arsenal’s best being Nketiah (189 minutes).

Nketiah (17 per cent), Saka and Martinelli (both 15 per cent) have been similarly efficient in front of goal, while Kane’s 21.8 per cent shot conversion rate is significantly higher than Son (11.5 per cent).

The fairly even spread of Arsenal’s attacking options displays the shared responsibility that Arteta’s side have in the final third, whereas Kane continues to carry his team-mates.

Kane stands as the highest-scoring player of all-time in the north London derby with 14 goals, scoring in all but one of his eight home Premier League games against the Gunners as he stands one away from matching Jimmy Greaves’ all-time record for the club of 266.

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