Tottenham‘s run of three defeats in four games. How they’ll dream of heaping more pressure on Andre Villas-Boas. They’ll point to their proud record of just one home defeat in 21 north London derbies (in league and cup) over 19 years, and to last season’s comeback from 2-0 down with three goals in 11 minutes either side of half-time to win it 5-2.
They’ll crow about a front three of Walcott, Giroud and Podolski hitting form at the right time. They’ll point out that Tottenham have kept possession poorly against the better sides this season.
But Tottenham supporters will have their answer in ribald song and considered thought too. They know that the Gunners will wilt under pressure. In 2008-09 Spurs were 4-2 down at the Emirates with two minutes to go and drew 4-4. Two years ago this weekend, Arsenal were 2-0 up and lost 3-2 in Tottenham’s only away league win against them since 1993.
They’ll know Gareth Bale has the pace to rip Arsenal apart, that Arsene Wenger’s team has looked vulnerable at left-back and that Aaron Lennon has a good history in this fixture.
There are personal scores to be settled. Bacary Sagna broke his leg at Spurs last season. William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor were once Arsenal heroes in this game. Now they return as pantomime villains.
Both managers are under pressure. Emotions and stakes are high. Ever since Arsenal were elected to the First Division in 1913 at the expense of Tottenham, who suspected skulduggery in the voting process, these two clubs have loathed each other.
Prediction – Arsenal 2 – 1 Tottenham