Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Tottenham Hotspur

Emirates Stadium, London
Sunday, November 6
7:00 a.m. EST, 12:00 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Mark Clattenburg
    • Assistants: Jake Collin and Simon Bennett
    • 4th Official: Andre Marriner
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 1 - 1 Tottenham
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 75 Arsenal wins, 55 Tottenham wins, 48 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-W-W-D-W
  • Tottenham's League Form: W-W-W-D-D-D
  • Weather: Clear, 44 °F / 7 °C
I appreciate how the goalkeeper still tried to save Özil's chip,
despite the fact that he was eight miles out of the box.
How about the cojones on this team, eh? Arsenal's Champions League jaunt to Bulgaria was always going to be tougher in reality than it was on paper and the rotation (Arsène Wenger made five changes from the side that beat Sunderland, plus some maneuvering of player positions) was always going to make things a little bumpy. But, 2-0 down on a quarter of an hour? Not ideal.

Personally, I was on a conference call at work during the start of the match, so when I got a text that read "for fuck's sake," I thought was 1-0 and not 2-0. However, my mind immediately went all the way back to 2009 and the 2-0 lead Arsenal spotted Standard Liège, only to storm back to win 3-2. Just like they drew it up.

So, here we go. Arsenal take a 15-match unbeaten into a critical string of fixtures: North London derby, international break, Manchester United at Old Trafford, and PSG at the Emirates for all the Group A marbles.


Arsenal Squad News

Out: Pérez (ankle,) Cazorla (Achilles,) Mertesacker (knee,) Welbeck (knee)
Doubts: Gibbs (shoulder,) Walcott (hamstring,) Monreal (muscle tightness)

Here's to hoping Bellerín has recovered from the "incident."
Hector Bellerín was left off the plane to Bulgaria after "a little incident" at the end of training on Monday, but his absence was purely a precaution. Wenger mentioned yesterday that the Spaniard "could have played" if he needed to, so I'd expect him to slot straight back in at right back.

At left back, however, Nacho Monreal has now missed three matches in a row with muscle tightness and now Kieran Gibbs is a doubt after injuring his shoulder in Bulgaria, so we'll have to see how their fitness tests go.

Theo Walcott could be back from a small hamstring problem after missing three straight himself; Wenger mentioned yesterday that he is the closest to returning. Elsewhere in the squad, Granit Xhaka is available after serving his three-match domestic ban, but Santi Cazorla is likely not yet ready for a return from his Achilles injury.

Predicted XI: Čech, Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Iwobi, Ramsey, Özil, Alexis.

Tottenham Squad News

Out: None
Doubts: Lamela (hip,) Kane (ankle,) Alderweireld (knee,) Dembélé (ankle)
Suspended: Sissoko (third of three, violent conduct)

"Comedy gold."
Childhood Arsenal fan Moussa Sissoko, who moved to Spurs from Newcastle at the transfer deadline, spared himself from playing the derby on the wrong side (or something like that) when he retroactively received a three-match ban for elbowing Bournemouth's Harry Arter. I'm not sure if that's good news or bad for Arsenal here, as his performance against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night was described by at least one source as "comedy gold," though, to be fair, I got that from a Newcastle blog.

While no Tottenham player has been outright ruled out through injury, Mauricio Pochettino will be sweating over the fitness of four of his first team players, including Harry Kane, who has not played since damaging ankle ligaments against Sunderland on September 18. Reports are that he'll be back for the derby, but that's also exactly the kind of thing Spurs would say in advance of the derby. I suspect he'll make the bench if he passes fit.

Érik Lamela did not play against Leicester at the weekend and did not play against Leverkusen on Wednesday, having picked up a hip injury in training last week; I believe he's 50/50, but I've predicted him to start. Toby Alderweireld has been out since picking up a knee injury against West Brom on October 15, so Eric Dier will likely continue to start along with Jan Vertonghen in the center of defense.

Mousa Dembélé was removed on half an hour at Wembley on Wednesday night with an ankle injury and is a doubt as well.

Predicted XI: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Wanyama, Dele Alli, Eriksen, Son, Lamela, Janssen.

Current Form

It's so nice to see that the media takes pictures like this of
other teams, too.
Arsenal's unbeaten run now stands at 15 across all competitions, since losing to Liverpool on opening day. As mentioned midweek, it's still Arsenal's longest unbeaten run since a 21-match run to start the 2007/08 season (and again, they won nothing that year, so tread carefully with your excitement...) Arsenal have won 10 of their last 11 and 12 of their last 14. Not too shabby, but again, it's only November.

On the other side of the coin, Tottenham are struggling for consistency. Sure, they're the only unbeaten team remaining in the league, but their 10 league fixtures have been five wins and five draws, including three straight without a win. They've been bounced out of the League Cup by Liverpool and their European prospects are looking dire after a 1-0 loss to Bayer Levekusen at Wembley on Wednesday night. Spurs are two points out of second place and travel to Monaco on matchday five before hosting CSKA Moscow on matchday six. They've lost twice at Wembley in the group stage and have scored just two goals in four matches, as Bernd Leno and Levekusen kept them out twice.

Match Facts

Francis Coquelin was sent off in the last North London derby.
At White Hart Lane on March 16, 2014, Tomáš Rosický slammed in a goal after 72 seconds and Arsenal hung on for dear life for the remaining 88 minutes as the Gunners escaped the North London derby with a 1-0 win, their third win in three matches of Spurs that season. Since that match, Arsenal have failed to beat Tottenham in the league, winning only in last year's third round League Cup tie 2-1, as Mathieu Flamini, of all people, scored twice.

Last year, both league encounters ended drawn, with Arsenal coming from behind in both fixtures. At the Emirates in November (the very same weekend last year, actually,) Arsenal's squad was threadbare through injuries, basically being held together with duct tape and poor quality glue. I mean, Mathieu Debuchy started, while Flamini came on for an injured Santi Cazorla at halftime, with Arsenal down 1-0 from a 32nd minute Harry Kane goal. On 74 minutes, Kieran Gibbs came on to play the wing and three minutes later, the makeshift forward scored Arsenal's equalizer, and the match ended 1-1.

At the Lane in March, Arsenal led 1-0 through Aaron Ramsey at halftime, but Francis Coquelin was sent off for a clumsy second yellow on 55 minutes. Tottenham made the Gunners pay for their red card, as Toby Alderweireld scored on the hour mark and Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead two minutes later. Arsenal, however, were level on 76 minutes through Alexis Sánchez and looked the more likely to find a winner, even with ten men, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw that damaged both sides' title hopes.

While Arsenal's record at White Hart Lane has been poor over the last 10 years, they have a much better record at home. At Highbury/the Emirates in the Premier League era, Arsenal have a record of 13 wins, two losses, and nine draws against Tottenham, the most recent loss coming in November of 2010, when Spurs came from 2-0 down at halftime to win 3-2.

The Referee

Prior to being sent off by Mark Clattenburg last weekend, José
Mourinho is shown here telling the fourth official that he is
the fourth official.
The referee is County Durham-based Mark Clattenburg, who you may remember from every major final at the end of last season, as well as Arsenal's 0-0 draw with Leicester City in August that started this whole unbeaten run. Critically, Clattenburg denied Leicester a borderline penalty in injury time of that one to keep Arsenal level; we could have been looking at zero points from six possible to start the season had that foul been called.

Tottenham have not seen Clattenburg since their battle at Stamford Bridge last May, in which Spurs managed to blow a 2-0 lead and their last title hopes and also all of their dignity as well. Spurs were shown a total of nine yellow cards that night, as Chelsea came back for a 2-2 draw, clinching the title for Leicester City. Spurs won their two other matches with Clattenburg last season, both over Manchester City.

Clattenburg was in the news a little bit last weekend as he worked Manchester United's scoreless draw at Old Trafford against Burnley; he sent off Ander Herrera in the 68th minute and denied United a penalty as well for a Jon Flanagan challenge on Matteo Darmian in the box. He sent José Mourinho to the stands at halftime as well, so, you know, great match all around from Clatts. Former referee Graham Poll has criticized Clattenburg for giving nothing to teams once their fan bases turn on him.

Midweek, Clattenburg (like Arsenal and Tottenham) worked in the Champions League; he was in Istanbul, for Beşiktaş's 1-1 draw with Napoli.

Around the League
  • Saturday: Bournemouth v. Sunderland; Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
  • Saturday: Burnley v. Crystal Palace; Turf Moor, Burnley
  • Saturday: Manchester City v. Middlesbrough; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Saturday: West Ham United v. Stoke City; Olympic Stadium, London
  • Saturday (late): Chelsea v. Everton; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Sunday: Hull City v. Southampton; KCOM Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Sunday: Liverpool v. Watford; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Sunday: Swansea City v. Manchester United; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Sunday (late): Leicester City v. West Bromwich Albion; King Power Stadium, Leicester
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and looked as foolish as those Ludogorets defenders against Mesut Özil every time he played the sport in high school. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat  for zero other anecdotes about his non-existent playing career.