Tag Archives: north london

Reclaiming North London Next Season?

For over two decades, North London was settled territory.

The equilibrium was undisturbed, and while there were tremors of change, Arsenal held dominion over Tottenham with a steady hand.

The last two years however – arguably three if it weren’t for a laughable final day drubbing at the hands of an already relegated Newcastle United – have seen Spurs break free from their shackles and usurp the Gunners.

The hard thing to swallow though, is that the team with a chicken atop a basketball for a crest have deserved to finish above us.

Every season represents another chance for redemption however.

Can we restore the status quo and reclaim North London this coming season?

Arsenal Vs Spurs - Who will be the Kings of North London next season?

Everything rests on Unai Emery’s shoulders.

Last season saw the gap become a gulf, at no point did we threaten to grab back the bragging rights from Spurs, as they comfortably earned a Champions League place while we duked it out with Burnley and Everton for the Europa League and the dubious honour of finishing 6th.

Arsene Wenger’s last season was not the way he would have envisaged signing off from the club he adored, but he did leave the club with its values intact and the foundations for something greater than the sum of 2017/18.

Emery and the recruitment team have acted quickly to remedy the gaping holes in our lineup, but it could be argued that it was never really personnel that has let us down – it has been tactical nous that has been our downfall.

Wenger gamely stuck to his guns even in the face of the fiercest critics, but his famed Plan A succeeded less and less.

The lack of a Plan B and the ignored scouting of opponents led to us tripping up far more than we should have done.

Our new Spanish boss is a stickler for detail, and former players under his watch have claimed that he was obsessed with videos of opponents, putting in the work to combat an opponent’s strengths.

Emery is also known for his pressing game, and swift conversions from defence to attack. This doesn’t mean he cannot play the possession game though, it just points to a team that will be able to mix it up to differing demands.

Spurs are on the precipice. For three seasons they have swaggered to the ring, welcomed by a bassy ringwalk number, only for them to duck out of the ring when the First Round bell signals the time for talking is over. They have arguably one of the most potent attacks in the League, and a settled defence. They have taken scalps and duked it out with the best – but crucially, they have won nix.

Their trophy cabinet – for all the pundits fawning, their players claiming they have what it takes, their manager being linked to the biggest clubs – is still bare.

Now, they have taken the next big step, and built a stadium with a capacity to enable them to cement their place amongst the biggest clubs. The only problem is, the debt they have now acquired could sink them.

This is where Wenger really excelled. When we took on all of the debt from The Emirates build – unlike Spurs who have had financial aid – we had to tighten our belts. We were on a diet of Djourou’s and Senderos’s, and we still maintained our Champions League presence, which was vital for our finances.

We fought our way out on our own merits. Spurs have a squad that deserves to be amongst the top earners, but in terms of other star men and teams, they are on a pittance. There is only so long players will stay at a club through devotion if they have no winners medals to show for it.

They know they can triple their income with a move away – so Daniel Levy must focus on tying down his gems before they jump ship. That inevitably means their transfer budget will require sales to bolster it. It could mean a few years scouring the bargain buckets of Europe – and this is where Spurs have a big problem.

Their squad last season fell short, and that is them at their strongest. If they are to take that final step and become bona fide challengers, they need to be better than they are now – and that means new personnel, which they won’t be able to afford.

This also means that we know what we need to do, to reclaim our spot in North London. We need to be better than Spurs were last season.

With this being Emery’s first season in charge, there are so many unanswered questions, and with change coming after Wenger’s two decades, we cannot claim to be able to foresee where we will be.

The signs are good though, and we can say this – this coming season will be far closer than the last one.
North London could still be back in our hands yet.

North London Derby Preview.

Could this match matter any more than it does?

No, and it amps up every season, especially with our neighbours starting to make a nasty habit of looking down on us.

This current North London Derby is no different, but the ramifications for the loser of this tussle are huge for either team.

We sit in sixth place, and four points behind spurs. If we lose this game,then we’ll have a massive seven point gap to traverse just to get to fifth spot. It would probably signal the end of our Champions League spot hopes, placing even more importance on our Europa League campaign.

So, it is quite obvious that we have a little more to lose than Pochettino’s lot.

They will still feel the burn should we do the double over them this season with victory.

A win for them could see them rise to the heights of 3rd spot, but should they lose, they’ll be likely five points from 3rd, and a mere point above us – with low confidence and a tough tie against Juventus in their midst.

One thing we have in our favour is that they did play in midweek. It may have been League Two opposition, but Newport County gave a fantastic account of themselves at Wembley, and tottenham used more than a few first team regulars in order to despatch their FA Cup opponent.

Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Heung Son-Min, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks were among the eleven, and should they be selected they’ll be lacking that ten percent of energy that we’ll have after our weeks rest.

In Arsene Wenger’s pre-match press conference, our manager revealed that Nacho Monreal will thankfully be fit to take his place in the side, but the jury is still out on Petr Cech who was injured during our 5-1 win over Everton last week. David Ospina stands by to deputise.

Wenger has a selection headache too.

Aaron Ramsey scored a hat-trick in his last outing and the Welshman is surely a shoe-in for a start in this game.

But who partners him in midfield?

Granit Xhaka has been on point when it comes to his distribution, but wedging him into the DM role that clearly doesn’t fit him isn’t working. We could try fitting in Mohamed Elneny in a three man central midfield, but what of Jack Wilshere? The England man has been one of our best players in recent weeks and with his passion for Arsenal – a start in the NLD is a must, surely?

Then there is our attack.

Our new boys, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both hit the ground running, and their partnership is a huge plus for us. They start, and obviously Mesut Ozil does too,but that means Alexandre Lacazette could be on the bench again.The Frenchman has so much quality that he should be a guaranteed starter, but our attack already has three, if Lacazette starts alongside Aubameyang, Ozil and Mkhitaryan, then we need a formation change.

Will Wenger change things up after such a handsome win though? Changing a winning team is not something Arsene does often, so Lacazette may again start from the bench.

We need this win for our league hopes, never mind bragging rights. We’ve got enough in our locker to do it, but our 2-0 win earlier in the season showed that we need to have an active press, and attack using the speed we have.

Plus, we’ve got our Wembley record to maintain.

Predicted lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal 2-0 tottenham – What Power Shift?

What power shift?

Much of the talk before this game kicked off was centred on how tottenham were now the rulers of North London, but a powerhouse Arsenal performance served a reminder to our neighbours that one season of finishing above us after 21 of being in our shadow doesn’t constitute a shift in power.


Our side were far superior to spurs in every position during the 90, and Pochettino lost his first derby in the process. Wenger went for Lacazette to start alongside Alexis and Ozil in a front three and this attacking trio was key in how we put spurs to the sword. The attacking three were full of intent and running, tracking back and pressing and some really lovely touches.


It was our midfield that really had a point to prove though, and they gave everything to the cause. Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka left it all on the pitch and strangled the life out of their spurs counterparts, Dembele and Sissokho. At both ends of the pitch, our engine room were on the pulse.


Shkodran Mustafi passed a recent fitness test to earn a recall to the side, and the German repelled everything spurs could muster, which wasn’t much. From the opening exchanges, we bossed every area of the pitch and Petr Cech was pretty much untroubled aside from a squirming Eriksen low shot that struck the outside of the near post.


This game didn’t feel like one of those games where we have untold amounts of possession and chances, only to flounder. It was our intensity that was troubling spurs, and they couldn’t keep up.









The deadlock was broken on the 36th minute. Alexis was found, being marked tightly by Davidson Sanchez. The Chilean headed past the spurs man and the defender put his arm across Alexis before having a slight tug of his Arsenal jersey. Mike Dean, rather surprisingly, gave us the decision and from the resulting set-piece, a perfect delivery from Mesut Ozil was met by Mustafi, who jumped higher than anyone to float a wonderful header past Lloris.


We didn’t have to wait long for the second and for our dominance to come to fruition. Alexandre Lacazette was actually given the ball in the channel with space to run into for once, and the Frenchman ate up the yards before finding Alexis with a low square pass. Alexis had plenty to do, but a great first touch allowed him to squeeze a high shot into the net and give Lloris no chance.






Half time came and went and although spurs were afforded more possession, the script was very much the same. Cech was still just as untroubled, we still had our boot firmly on spurs’ neck. Subs came and went around the 60-70th minute, but it changed nothing. No matter what Pochettino tried, our men on the field had the answers.


It was so refreshing to see us reach what is near our capabilities. So often we are bested thanks to our own inefficiencies, but not this time. For the whole game, we were at it all over the pitch. All of our players were on form and wanted this win – if we had failed to win this then a big gap would have been the result, even at this early stage of the season.


We weren’t finished either. Alexis could have grabbed another, and Alex Iwobi shot wide from a good position, sandwiching an Eric Dier header that produced a fingertip save from Cech – and that was the nearest that spurs were to come to registering a goal.


With this sort of display, frustration as well as joy can spring forth. Why can’t we do this more often? If we could do this for even 20 out of the 38 games, then we would be unstoppable. If we think like this though, we will never enjoy any moment. We know what we can do, all we can do though, is hope.


Spurs were bested, we pressed better than they did, we attacked quicker, we defended stouter. Their fans needed a reminder of where they actually stand in football after getting ahead of themselves recently.


We also needed a reminder. We needed to see our team show that not only can we produce displays of this nature still, but we can still want it more than our opponents.


Well played Arsenal – this was so good to see. #UTA

Arsenal Vs tottenham Match Preview

It’s that time in the season again when we battle with our North London neighbours and this season sees a depressingly familiar outlook for the match.




This season and last have seen tottenham enter the respective derby matches as favourites. After over two decades of Gunner domination, spurs can now call themselves favourites to win. Last year was the first time in 21 years that they had finished above Arsenal and the team they now put out is a real equal – or perhaps stronger – than the eleven that Arsene Wenger is capable of assembling.


We do have a strong home record to fall back on and it is this that must fire our boys to a win we so badly need. The last game was a loss to runaway leaders Man City that highlighted the gap now between us and the title challengers.


This game has to spark a revival and a charge up the table if we are to sustain a belief of a Champions League spot.


There will be many tasty battles on display in this game, which can be found in this Arsenal tactical report – and the one that will probably decide the fate of the result will occur right in the centre of the pitch.


Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka have been the preferred duo to marshall the engine room this season, but gelling between the pair has been slow to muster. They have been effective at time, but we will need more if we are to harbour any hopes of victory. Especially if Pochettino goes with Dembele and Winks. This combo is quick to win the ball and just as rapid to offload to a marauding Alli, Eriksen and Kane.


In terms of injuries, Danny Welbeck may be back available for selection if he passes a fitness test and his workrate may give him an instant recall – especially if Alexis’ display in our last game is anything to go by. The Chilean appeared to have already left the club and if selection demanded form, then Sanchez would be out. This probably won’t be the case, but Welbeck could start ahead of Lacazette instead – omitting the Frenchman from our defeat to Man City was something that incensed our support and would likely have the same reaction this time around. Olivier Giroud is out after picking up a thigh injury on international duty, but it isn’t major.


Our defence should have Laurent Koscielny included, but Shkodran Mustafi will likely again be out. With Rob Holding stillnursing an injury, it appears as if Captain Mertesacker will have the job of snuffing out tottenham’s attack – something he has done countless times before. If aided by Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, we could have the perfect platform.


Harry Kane and Dele Alli were not available for England’s recent bout of friendlies and this has given them enough time to recover from injuries. Kane has a frightening record of scoring in derby games, and if he is fed by Eriksen, then Cech could have a busy 90 minutes.


Our team is more than good enough to win this, but what is worrying is that we all know we need to be at our best – and that is something that has been a fleeting occurrence this season. We will need every bit of passion, pressing and stamina to grab three points in this game and stop moods amongst our fanbase from plummeting even lower. November isn’t kind to Wenger – it is statistically his worst month in terms of points per game in his long tenure – but what a game to buck this alarming trend.


Keep the faith, we can do this.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – I have no idea…

Arsenal Vs tottenham Match Preview

Arsenal host bitter rivals Tottenham for a crucial North London derby on Saturday lunchtime and are in desperate need of a morale-boosting win. Defeat at the hands of Man City last time out left the Gunners 12 points off the top of the table and winning the league looks to be a pipe dream. Once more they look like having to settle for a scrap for fourth place and the bookmakers have them as outsiders in that race. Spurs have been on an upward curve for years now and finished comfortably ahead of Arsenal last season – the first time St Totteringham’s Day was not celebrated since the mid-1990s. Gooners must be sickened by the sight of Spurs sitting three places above them in the table once more, and nothing would lift the grim mood at The Emirates like taking three points from Mauricio Pocchetino’s men.

Arsenal go into the game as narrow favourites and that is solely down to having home advantage. Check out Intertops when wagering on game and you will see that the betting is exceptionally close. Tottenham have the league’s second best away record, having won four and lost one of their five games on the road this season. That defeat came in their last away game, when they lost 1-0 to Man Utd. Jose Mourinho laid down a blueprint for how to beat Tottenham, but Arsene Wenger is unlikely to follow it as he never really tailors his approach to specific opposition, preferring instead to send out his players in tried and tested fashion and hope for the best.

Since that Man Utd defeat, Spurs have spanked European champions Real Madrid and beaten Crystal Palace to move up to third in the Premiership table, so they will be full of confidence going into this game. Star striker Harry Kane is back and that makes grim reading for Arsenal fans, as the England forward loves playing in North London derbies and has a great goal scoring record against the Gunners.

However, Arsenal’s home form has been perfect this season. Their away performances have let them down, but at the Emirates they have won five out of five and scored 13 times in the process. That should buoy them for this massive game. There are key battles that will see this game won or lost for Arsenal. The most important will be the efforts to contain Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. Arsenal let Sergio Aguero and co run riot against them at the Etihad and they will need to show a lot more organisation and discipline against Tottenham if they are to get a result. Fans will have to hope Francis Coquelin does not start in defence again as that was a disaster.




Tottenham have an extremely strong defence and Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette will have to use every ounce of their guile and creativity to penetrate it and create chances. Again, fans will have to hope all three start rather than Wenger giving the ineffectual Alex Iwobi the nod. Lacazette is Arsenal’s £52 million record signing and deserves the chance to start up top in the big games, with Sanchez instructed to wreak havoc from wide areas. The Chilean was poor once again in the City game and is not doing a great job of putting himself in the shop window, so if he plays he will need to buck his ideas up if he still wants to earn a move to high-flying Man City.

But the biggest challenge for Arsenal will be gaining a foothold in the middle of the park. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have failed to form an effective central midfield partnership thus far this season and it is a worry that neither is particularly disciplined. Neither is inclined to sit back and provide a screen for the defence, and neither can tackle, so Arsenal are often outfought and overrun in midfield. The likes of Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama are big, strong, tactically astute and good on the ball, so Ramsey and Xhaka will have to find another gear if they hope to win the midfield battle on Saturday. We can but hope.

Arsenal 1-1 tottenham – 5 Keypoints From the Match

Another chance to climb to the top of the table went begging, as Arsenal and their neighbours shared the spoils in a vibrant derby.

The Gunners could have been home and dry by the half time whistle, but a mixture of profligate finishing, the woodwork and some cynical fouling from spurs meant that the home side went into the half time break with a one goal lead, thanks to a Kevin Wimmer own goal.

The second half was a vastly different affair, and the pace and pressing from Arsenal virtually disappeared, with tottenham allowed to make all the running. This conspired to give them an equaliser, in the form of a penalty thanks to Laurent Koscielny’s depserate challenge on the onrushing Dembele. Harry Kane, in his first game back from his layoff, put the spot kick away, and the rest of the half could have made the Gunners pay, although a spurs win would’ve been harsh. Football isn’t exactly the scales of justice however. 

Before kickoff, both sides went into the game with contrasting recent fortunes. The home side hadn’t lost a fixture since the opening day of the season, and spurs had not won in their last five. Form in derby games rarely comes to the fore though, so the hope of a wounded animal turning up to The Emirates was never a reality.

There was plenty to glean from the 90 minutes, but here are 5 keypoints from the match that may pique your interest, or you may disagree with!

This was more than a disappointing result.

Our opponents had a striker who hadn’t played in over two months. They were also playing in an experimental formation, which means the men attempting to implement such a style would be unfamiliar with team orders and movement. They were there for the taking. Yet, for large periods of play, we invited them onto us. What was more frustrating, was that when we did play as we have at times this season – pressing quickly and attacking with pace and accurate passing – then spurs had no answer. We just didn’t do it enough. This was a huge missed opportunity.

Iwobi struggling, but there are bright spots

The last few games has seen our youngster wilt a little. Setting the bar so high means that there will always be a dip, and he is in the middle of his, but it isn’t all bad. He never hid and always wanted the ball. His final product is the part of his game that has most suffered, and again it was missing in this game. What has been highlighted as a deficiency in his game is his reluctancy to track back, and yet during his stint on the pitch for yesterday’s derby, he was a permanent ally for Nacho Monreal. He harried and was always switched on in a defensive sense. If he can ally both attacking and defence in his game simultaneously then he will have cracked it.

Sanchez a constant thorn

For Alan Shearer to decree that the Premier League only has one world class player in Sergio Aguero is laughable. Kevin Debruyne, Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard may have something to say about that, but Alexis Sanchez is another who deserves that accolade. Even in his darkest days, he still affects proceedings, and during the North London Derby, he was the one player who was at the forefront of everything we did that hurt spurs. The Chilean is unpredictable and gives us a fluency. If he is fit, he plays, no matter if he played three days ago. Keep that man fit!

Mustafi still learning, but the signs are good

On occasion, Mustafi was caught out and the gap that he left could’ve hurt his team’s efforts. For the majority though, the German defender showed huge tenacity and great positioning to combat the opposition who were allowed to impose themselves. This at times was down to a midfield presence more inclined to start attacks than quell them, but it matters little. Mustafi still has a little polishing to do, but he will only improve with experience and his bond with Koscielny grows. 

The international break is welcome for once.

I’m not overtly superstitious, but our record over November over the years is well documented, and scares me greatly. So for international football to take a sizeable chunk out of this infernal month is not a bad thing. Normally, the break from domestic football is nothing but misery, but any chance to avoid more dropped points is fine by me. We are still within striking distance at the top, and more importantly, Mesut Ozil will be granted a rest by Joachim Low and Germany. Nothing but positives. Aside from the boredom.

So, a missed opportunity, not only to break the spirit of our neighbours but to exert our influence at the top of the table. We have played better, and we will do in the future. We will need to as well, if we are to put this team where it belongs. We have the squad, so let’s prove we have the mettle. 

Arsenal Vs tottenham – Before Kickoff

In amongst the plethora of fixtures Arsenal have played recently, this fixture stood out as the most important. 

And it is for good reason, as the North London Derby gives fans the opportunity to earn the bragging rights and dominion over their opposite number – or at least until the next one.

Spurs fans are a little different however. No matter that their team has failed to finish above us for over two decades. It matters little to them that they have failed to win a trophy of significance since 2009 (that was the EFL Cup, the trophy that they derided themselves), or that they have spent a shedload on players and had more managers than a branch of Sports Direct. 

They still remain convinced of their superiority, and that this season is the one that will finally see them usurp us.

Ok, well it sets up this match quite nicely.

In terms of what the teams will look like when they take to The Emirates pitch, both teams have doubts, but it is spurs who seem to be bereft of more of their squad.

Erik Lamela, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Davies and Moussa Dembele look to be ruled out, and closet Gooner Moussa Sissoko is banned. 

That lot have struggled in recent games, and part of that is due to missing their best striker Harry Kane. The mouth-breather extraordinaire has now been declared fit which will please their fans and Mauricio Pochettino, but match fitness is another issue. He may start – and with four in four against us you would think so – but lasting the whole game is another issue. 

For our team, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott all face fitness tests to gauge their readiness, but Hector Bellerin is set to return to the side, although his replacement Carl Jenkinson has let no one down in his stint in the side. 

The hot topic though, is will Arsene Wenger opt to stick to the attacking lineup which has seen them keep pace at the top of the league, or will he revert to type and utilise the strengths of the recently returned Olivier Giroud?

Alexis Sanchez will be in the side either way, but will it be on the left or will he play as the sole striker? Not only this, but will Alex Iwobi be in the side, or will The Ox be given a chance to continue his recent hot streak?

All of this is pure conjecture, and the only person who knows is the manager himself. The comforting thing to see was our Chilean superstar talking of this fixture and reinforcing to us Gooners that they are aware of how important this game is. 

Our winning streak has continued and tottenham’s poor form has seen them stumble in the league and in Europe, but as we are well aware, form has no bearing in derbies. The spoils will go to whoever wants them the most. 

Here are some interesting stats to whet the appetite. spurs have just one win in the last 26 at Arsenal in the league, in a run that goes back to May 1993. However, Arsenal have failed to win any game against tottenham in the last four games. 

Lastly, and most interestingly though, the last North London Derby to kickoff at midday was back in 2004, when we won 5-4…..

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Kos, Nacho, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal

The Return of the Shadow Dwellers Part 2

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The General rested on his haunches, his now spattered armour creaking as he bent. The scene which tortured his eyes was one of bedlam and violence. The very floor on which his hands now leaned on was saturated with blood – of who it belonged to was a mystery.

For both sides had suffered losses, and the liquid spilled could have been from either. Bodies littered his eyeline, but that was not the destination for his vision.

He looked to the horizon, to where the Haven of Four twinkled its seductive light. Then, just below, what remained of the savage horde of Shadow Dwellers – who had gotten past the General’s men and now were free to taint that holiest of ground.

By the Gods, they had failed.

Continue reading The Return of the Shadow Dwellers Part 2

The Shadow of Our Neighbours

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The boy ran. Carrying his peoples banner, he moved as swiftly as his beating heart would allow him. The message must be given to the General. He had the all-important job of relaying the message that would allow the good people of ‘The Cannon’ to raise defences and arrange an attack.

If he failed – then all would be lost.

The Shadow Dwellers had risen once more.

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Continue reading The Shadow of Our Neighbours