By Martyn Herman
LONDON – Recent statistics don’t make nice studying for an out-of-form Arsenal aspect as they put together for Sunday’s north London derby at table-topping Tottenham Hotspur.
The Gunners have failed to win on any of their final six Premier League journeys up the Seven Sisters Road and have by no means received an away recreation in opposition to a Jose Mourinho-managed staff.
Add in the truth that Tottenham are using excessive after a nine-match unbeaten league streak and Arsenal have endured their worst begin since 1981, the prospects for Mikel Arteta’s aspect seem grim. Derbies, nonetheless, don’t at all times observe logic.
This one won’t really feel like the same old red-blooded affair, even when the presence of two,000 Tottenham followers will assist whip up a bit of of the environment sadly lacking when the edges met in an empty Tottenham stadium in July, a match Spurs received 2-1.
Since that fairly low-key end-of-season contest, the fortunes of the 2 sides have been in stark distinction.
Mourinho, mixing a potent assault with a defensive pragmatism, has turned Tottenham into title contenders, profitable over the vast majority of followers who had been opposed to his hiring simply over a 12 months in the past in the wake of Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking.
While on events Mourinho has let the handbrake off, corresponding to thumping away wins in opposition to Southampton and Manchester United, Tottenham’s rise has been constructed on focus, self-discipline and organisation and a tough-to-beat mentality.
The method they soaked up Manchester City’s passing recreation to win 2-0 in their final dwelling recreation, then floor out a 0-0 draw at Chelsea final week would have delighted the Portuguese supervisor.
It additionally rubbished ideas that Spurs can be discovered wanting throughout a troublesome run of fixtures which additionally features a journey to Liverpool in a fortnight.
At dwelling to an Arsenal aspect languishing in 14th spot, nonetheless, followers will count on a extra front-foot method.
Arsenal have three factors fewer after 10 video games this season than they did below Unai Emery final season. He was sacked earlier than Christmas and changed by fellow Spaniard Arteta.
An FA Cup triumph for Arsenal endorsed the religion proven in Arteta, however issues have since stagnated. His staff have scored solely 10 league targets and seem shapeless.
While it’s far too early to speak of Arteta’s job being on the road, he wants an upturn in form shortly and a win at Tottenham can be the best place for that to start.
Champions Liverpool, who path Tottenham on objective distinction, kick off at dwelling to Wolverhampton Wanderers in Sunday’s late recreation, that means third-placed Chelsea, two factors adrift, might go high on Saturday after they host Leeds United.
For Liverpool it is going to be an emotional second as, for the primary time since profitable their first title in 30 years, they are going to have followers again on the Kop with the town having been positioned in the federal government’s Tier 2 Covid-19 restrictions.
The final time followers had been current at Anfield was on March 11, days earlier than the pandemic pressured the shutdown of soccer.
“It’s a nice sign that these things are possible and I hope that it is just the first step,” Klopp mentioned.
In-form West Ham may even welcome again 2,000 followers on Saturday as they host Manchester United.