Stakes high as Premier League returns with north London derby double

Stakes high as Premier League returns with north London derby double
Erling Haaland has scored 11 goals in seven Premier League games since joining Manchester City. (Photo: Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images)

After a two-week international break the Premier League returns with huge clashes.

North London derbies are always feisty encounters, but Saturday’s clash between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will have an extra incentive with top spot in the Premier League at stake.

Twenty-four hours later, champions Manchester City host Manchester United as the Premier League returns with a derby bonanza after the international break.

Arsenal and Spurs have both enjoyed flying starts, with Mikel Arteta’s table-topping Gunners having won six of their first seven league games – their best start since 2007-8.

Antonio Conte’s Tottenham are unbeaten, with five victories and two draws – their equal-best start in the Premier League.

However, Spurs will have to overturn a horrid record at their neighbours if they are to leapfrog them and go top, having won at Arsenal only once in their past 29 league visits.

Despite that statistic, Tottenham have swung the balance of power in north London, finishing above Arsenal for the past six seasons, having ended the previous 21 below them.

Arsenal had a golden chance to reassert themselves last season when they were poised for a top-four finish at Tottenham’s expense, but a 3-0 capitulation at Spurs in May allowed Conte’s team to sneak above them.

Tottenham have carried the momentum of last season and are now on a 13-match unbeaten streak in the league going back to April, even if there is a suspicion that their results so far have been more impressive than some of their performances.

Tottenham Hotspurs striker Harry Kane will have to be on target in the North London derby this weekend. (Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images)

They will travel to the Emirates Stadium for the lunchtime kick-off in buoyant mood, and with forward Son Heung-min back in form after a 14-minute hat-trick in a 6-2 victory over Leicester City – their last match.

Son had not scored this season before his explosive cameo against Leicester, and with Harry Kane already on six goals for the campaign, Arsenal’s defence faces a stern test.

Arteta’s blueprint

This time last season, Arteta’s Arsenal were just turning the corner after a dreadful start, but the Spaniard appears to have applied his blueprint to the team.

Striker Gabriel Jesus has been a revelation since joining from Manchester City, scoring four league goals already and helping bring a winning mentality to a young squad, while Granit Xhaka looks reborn in Arsenal’s midfield.

Saturday’s clash will be a tactical battle, with Arsenal’s probing, possession-based style up against the counterattacking thrust of a Tottenham side happy to soak up pressure.

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“It’s a specialty of Conte’s. With Son Heung-min now finding form, they could do damage to Arsenal,” former England striker Chris Sutton, now a BBC pundit, said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “#EmptyOldTrafford: Why Manchester United’s bid to recruit global fans may be backfiring

If Arsenal win they will preserve the top spot after eight games. Any other result means Pep Guardiola’s City can climb to the summit with a win against United on Sunday.

Despite the form of the north London duo, City already look favourites to retain their crown, especially with new signing Erling Haaland ripping up the scoring record books.

The Norwegian already has 11 goals in his first seven league appearances, and if he maintains that rate he would smash the Premier League record of 34 in a season.

Tottenham Hotspurs’ Son Heung-min (left) has been in hot form recently. Here he celebrates another goal with teammate Emerson Royal (Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images)

United are on a four-match winning streak in the league but have not played a league game since beating Arsenal on 4 September and face a manic schedule of nine matches in October.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Erling Haaland — a goal-scoring machine primed to prosper in Premier League

Liverpool also return to action with a home game against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, knowing they have almost used up their margin for error after six games.

Graham Potter takes charge of his first Premier League game as Chelsea manager as they go to Crystal Palace.

Match-by-match facts and statistics ahead of the next round of Premier League fixtures from 1 to 3 October:

1 October, Saturday

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

  • Arsenal have won 22 of their 60 Premier League games against Spurs (L15 D23);
  • Spurs won 3-0 at home against Arsenal in their last league meeting in May; and
  • Table toppers Arsenal and third-placed Spurs are separated by one point after seven games this season.

 Bournemouth v Brentford

  • This will be the first Premier League meeting between Bournemouth and Brentford;
  • The teams last met in the second-tier Championship playoffs in May 2021, when Brentford won 3-1 at home; and
  • Bournemouth are yet to win a home league game this season.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea

  • Chelsea have won 20 of their 26 Premier League games against Palace (L4 D2);
  • The last time Palace beat Chelsea in all competitions was in October 2017, winning 2-1 at home in the league; and
  • Palace have won only one league game this season.

Fulham v Newcastle United

  • Of the 28 Premier League meetings between them, Fulham have won 12 times and Newcastle 11, while five games have ended in a draw;
  • In their last league meeting in May 2021, Newcastle won 2-0 at Fulham; and
  • Fulham are sixth in the standings, one point behind Manchester United.

Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion

  • Brighton have beaten Liverpool only once in the Premier League (L7 D2), winning 1-0 at Anfield in February 2021;
  • Liverpool won 2-0 at Brighton in the teams’ last league meeting in March; and
  • Brighton are fourth in the standings, four points above eighth-placed Liverpool.

Southampton v Everton

  • Everton have beaten Southampton 20 times in the Premier League in 46 games (L14 D12);
  • Southampton won 2-0 at home against Everton in February; and
  • Everton and Southampton are 13th and 14th in the league respectively, with both having seven points from as many games.

West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • Wolves have won six of their 12 Premier League games against West Ham (L5 D1);
  • West Ham won 1-0 at home when they last faced Wolves in the league in February; and
  • West Ham are in the relegation zone, sitting 18th after seven games, while Wolves are a spot above in 17th.

2 October, Sunday

Manchester United v Manchester City

  • This will be the 51st Premier League meeting between the teams;
  • United have won 24 times against City in the league (L17 D9); and
  • City won 4-1 when they last faced United in the league in March.

Leeds United v Aston Villa

  • Villa have won 10 times against Leeds in the Premier League (L8 D10);
  • Villa won 3-0 at Leeds in their last league meeting in March; and
  • Villa are looking to win their second consecutive game this season, while Leeds are without a win in three games.

3 October, Monday

Leicester City v Nottingham Forest

  • The last time Leicester and Forest met in the Premier League was in 1999, when Forest won 1-0 at home;
  • Forest have won three times against Leicester in the league (L1 D2); and
  • Bottom side Leicester are the only team yet to win a league game this season.




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