Tottenham host Arsenal on Sunday evening in the English Premier League. A win for Spurs would take them above the Gunners with two matches in hand, a huge motivation for Antonio Conte’s side. The home team have a great recent record on their own patch against their North London rivals and enjoyed an extra day to prepare for this match after these teams’ Carabao Cup semi-finals in midweek.
Spurs have made a record-breaking start to life under Antonio Conte in the Premier League. No previous manager has made a long unbeaten start to their reign in the PL than Conte’s eight matches – five wins and three draws.
Tottenham should have beaten Liverpool after 3.4 Expected Goals created but could only draw 2-2. Their next two matches saw them face ten men for the entire second half, a 3-0 home win vs Crystal Palace and a surprise 1-1 draw at Southampton. They then beat Watford 1-0 in the last seconds on the road. Spurs’ last three matches saw an FA Cup win against lower league opponents Morecambe sandwiched by 2-0 and 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the League Cup semi-finals.
Tottenham Team News
Conte will be hoping that Eric Dier and Sergio Reguilon can return in time for this match. Both have been badly missed in recent games. If they miss out, then Japhet Tanganga and Matt Doherty may cover again, both significant downgrades. Cristian Romero is nearing a return and could even make the bench here.
In attack, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn are injured. Harry Kane and Lucas Moura will start but the third forward is a choice between underperforming players like Giovani Lo Celso or Dele Alli. Bryan Gil is another option but is unlikely to be trusted.
Motivation will be huge. They are fresher than Arsenal, can leapfrog their rivals in the top four battle (having also played two fewer matches) and they want revenge for the 3-1 humbling in the reverse fixture.
Conte will not settle for a draw at home and needs to get his side fired up to press and play at a high intensity after two tepid outings against Chelsea over the last 11 days.
Arsenal are playing significantly better than last season, but are still experiencing the same routine of a poor run followed by a strong run, followed by another poor run and so on. Having lost three league matches in four, Arsenal won four in a row. Wins to nil against Southampton and West Ham were good displays and they thrashed an injury-hit Leeds 4-1 and bottom-dwellers Norwich 5-0.
Things have gone less well in their last three matches. They played well but lost 2-1 in the last minute to Man City having seen Gabriel red-carded. A 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest followed in the FA Cup in a meek surrender. Their last match saw Granit Xhaka red-carded after 24 minutes but a fine rear-guard defensive display to draw 0-0 at Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final first leg. The Reds managed one shot on target from 17 attempts and 78% possession.
Arsenal Team News
Mikel Arteta has a very stretched squad for this big match. Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are at the AFCON and Granit Xhaka is suspended in midfield. Both Cedric Soares and Takehiro Tomiyasu are major doubts at right back to Callum Chambers could be selected.
Bukayo Saka went off with a knock against Liverpool and is 50-50 to return for this one. That injury comes at a bad time as Martin Odegaard has COVID-19 (but could be back), Emile Smith Rowe is doubtful and both Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are away at AFCON. Ben White may need to play deep in front of the back four.
The Gunners will be very fatigued having played so long with ten men against Liverpool in midweek. A defeat would be a terrible result so they could set up quite defensively with a back five and look to take a draw.
The bench could be very weak with hardly any options to change the game so Arsenal don’t look well-equipped to come back if trailing.
Spurs have won 7 of their last 10 home matches (D2)
THFC have conceded in 5 of their last 6 home matches
Spurs are unbeaten in their last seven home PL matches against Arsenal (W5, D2)
Spurs are unbeaten in 8 PL matches under Conte, the best unbeaten start for a Spurs manager in their PL history (W5, D3)
Arsenal scored 20 goals in 6 matches before firing 2 blanks in their last 2 matches
Arsenal have lost 4 of their last 7 away matches
Arsenal have conceded in 5 of their last 7 away matches (12 conceded)
This match is complicated by the teams’ midweek commitments. Arsenal have had a day less rest and played with ten men for 70 minutes so Spurs are fresher. Both sides should score but Spurs look a good bet to win considering their recent PL form and fine home record against the Gunners.