The North London Derby
It appears that there has been some kind of resurgence at Arsenal since the league resumed from the international break. 3 wins in a row and the fans are buzzing again, but that was after the dreadful start to the season that saw them bottom on the league table.
Coming off the back of their third successive win, and with all squad players fit and ready to go, is this the best time for Arsenal to face their fiercest rivals and fellow north London neighbors; Tottenham Hotspurs in this season’s first competitive North London derby on Sunday afternoon?
Even though the match does not have more than the normal 3 points at stake but the bragging rights that will come after for who wins is usually the most juiciest part of it post-game.
Even Xhaka who has missed the last three games for multiple reasons ( suspension and Covid) is now available but is not guaranteed a starting birth because his replace Sambi Lokonga has done excellently while he was away, some even want him to remain on the bench so as not to disrupt the balance and cohesion the team has garnered in his absence.
For Arteta, it is time to make a statement, and a very strong one at that, one can argue that at the start of the season when his team was battered into 3 straight losses, his team was battling Covid and injuries to key players who he signed in the transfer windows he has overseen, but now, judging by what we saw in his last game against Burnley when all his signings, 6 of them, were on the pitch at the same time it is safe to say this is his team.
The derby will give a hint at what his own personally assembled team can achieve going forward and the fans are itching for the whistle to be blown. Optimism is high, not just because of the teams recent form, but also because of Spurs dwindling form.
Spurs started the season on a high with that win over Mancity, and it generated talks about if they were true contenders to the title, but since then it has fizzled into thin air, they were humbled by a Crystal Palace team led by former gunner Patrick Viera and struggled against Wolves in the Carabo Cup. Star striker; Harry Kane also has not kicked into full gear with many blaming it on his earlier desire to leave the team for greener pastures.
But, when it comes to the derby, it is a different ball game. Form and position does not really count as both set of players usually come with a different energy.
Whether this will be the start of the revival Arsenal and Arteta have long been preaching, today will tell. For now, its fingers crossed.