Spurs vs Arsenal: ‘The biggest north London derby for 20 years’

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Spurs vs Arsenal: ‘The biggest north London derby for 20 years’

Premier League leaders Arsenal face ‘the biggest north London derby for 20 years’ as fierce rivals Spurs look to derail their title challenge at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

The Gunners know they will remain at the summit with a win to move a step closer to a first Premier League title in two decades, when Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles secured the title at White Hart Lane in 2004.

But Spurs, backed by a home crowd desperate not to see Mikel Arteta’s side become champions, have the chance of double delight on Sunday, knowing victory would severely dent Arsenal’s title dreams while boosting their own hopes of a top-four finish.

With so much on the line, a mouth-watering north London derby awaits.

Check out pundit opinions, features and analysis below ahead of Sunday’s crunch game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, live on Sky Sports, with kick-off at 2pm…

Sunday 28th April 1:00pm Kick off 2:00pm

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Merse: I can’t see anything but Arsenal victory in biggest NLD in 20 years

Mikel Arteta

Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:

“This has to be one of the biggest north London derbies for 20 years. This is a huge football match.

“I expect Arsenal to win this game because Tottenham will play gung-ho football, almost saying you have a shot and then we have a shot. That won’t work against Arsenal – they’ve got better players than Tottenham. They’re a better team, more of a unit and they’ll win the football match.

“I can’t see anything but an Arsenal win knowing how Tottenham like to play. They just open the game up and say, ‘we’ll see who can score more goals’. That will be so hard to do against Arsenal, who are a far superior football team.

“This game is the season in a nutshell for Tottenham. They’ll will be knighted if they win against Arsenal. But it’s not just that, they also need to get in the top four.

“It’s a game Spurs will have to play as well. There isn’t just pressure on Arsenal, with Spurs fighting in their cup final to stop them winning the league.

“Let’s be honest, a draw will be enough to stop Arsenal winning the league most likely, but it won’t be enough in the race for the Champions League. It would probably stop them finishing above Aston Villa. I doubt they will draw though – it’s not the way they play.”

Ange: We won’t change attacking approach

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Ange Postecoglou says he would be disappointed with fifth place in the Premier League, but admits his side’s league position reflects their inconsistency

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou has urged his side to double down on their attacking philosophy despite facing a team with the best defensive record in the league this season.

He said: “It’s just about making sure you embrace the challenge and try to tackle it in the way that got us into this position in the first place.

“From our perspective we’ve had some inconsistencies and challenges this year, but when we’ve played well we’ve played a certain way and gone about things in a certain way.

“There’s no point now when you get to the most important part of the year to shy away from that or change your approach.

“You’ve got to double down on it and focus on playing our football. That’s a great measure for us because otherwise you’ll never know where you’re short or whether you can be successful in doing it our way.”

Arteta says Arsenal need to ‘put rivalry aside’

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta laughs off the Premier League supercomputer’s prediction that his side’s title chances are just 26.6 per cent!

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants his players to put their north London rivalry with Tottenham to one side and focus on the job at hand.

“We played there a few times already and it’s a great place to play football,” he said.

“We have to put the rivalry aside and we have to live the game with passion and the intensity that it demands rather than anything special because the game has everything you need to enjoy it.”

Remarkably, Arsenal have played four matches since Tottenham last kicked a ball – losing to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final but beating Wolves and Chelsea to stay top.

However, Arteta does not want to use fixture congestion as an excuse heading into one of the most important north London derbies in recent history.

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Jamie Redknapp believes Arsenal will keep Man City honest in the title race while Gael Clichy feels Tottenham have a massive say in where the Premier League trophy will end up

The Spaniard said: “For sure we’re going to be fully ready. We have a bit of time to recover and prepare from the Chelsea game and I’m sure we’re going to be fully ready to go again on Sunday.

“I love the fact that we played four games. We had some great experiences. It’s been a really demanding week.

“We had some great results in the last two. That’s boosted the confidence of everybody. We’re in a good place.”

Neville: North London derby is Arsenal’s big moment of season

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Gary Neville looks ahead to Sunday’s massive North London derby as Arsenal bid to avoid any further slip-ups in the Premier League title race

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:

“Arsenal’s big moment of the season is this game on Sunday.

“The north London derby is a game I’ve loved over the years. It is probably my favourite game that I have commentated on for Sky in my 11 years doing it. It always seems to give us something and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

“This one has so much riding on it at the weekend. Arsenal go to that amazing stadium and they have got to go and play.

“I was there a few years ago when there was a battle for the Champions League and Tottenham did Arsenal over. The Gunners didn’t handle it. However, it’s a very different Arsenal going there on Sunday. They are robust and resilient now, but this will be a test, just like Liverpool had at Everton.

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“It’s going to potentially be like a bloodbath in the first 15 to 20 minutes. The Tottenham fans don’t want Arsenal to win the league.

“Tottenham will want a win, not just for stopping Arsenal, but for pride, winning a north London derby and getting as many points as they can. They are trying to push Aston Villa for that fourth place.

“It’s a huge game and Liverpool’s defeat at Everton is a lesson for Arsenal. It’s not quite the same with Spurs a different side to Everton, but the elements of making sure they are ready, making sure they don’t get caught out, making sure that away from home you respect the opposition and the crowd, and what you could be up against if they get on top of you.

“The principles of playing away from home – Arsenal cannot forget that because they are a better football team and in a better moment.”

Son eager for ‘inexperienced’ Spurs to test themselves against one of ‘world’s best teams’

Heung-Min Son celebrates after giving Spurs a late lead against Luton

Image: Heung-Min Son will captain Spurs against Arsenal

Tottenham captain Heung-Min has acknowledged Arsenal are one of the best teams in the world but insists the home side “will stick to their game”.

The South Korean said: “I think it will be a good test for our team. Obviously we’re very young and we’re still a little bit inexperienced because we’re building a young team with new experiences.

“Some of the players are in their first season in the Premier League. So look, we can test ourselves against one of the biggest teams in Europe and the Premier League, but also in the world.

“I think it’s very important the way we play. Stick to our play, stick to our game. I think it’s a very, very good test.

“As I said, it’s against one of the best teams in the world so it’s perfect (for us). You want to always have good competition and you always want to face the best teams in the world.”

How ‘constant threat’ Havertz is rewarding Arteta’s faith

Kai Havertz is excelling for Arsenal as their central striker

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

Back in November, when Kai Havertz was struggling to convince following his £65m arrival from Chelsea, most Arsenal fans would not have believed you if you had told them how much and how quickly his fortunes, and their perceptions of him, would change.

On Tuesday night, in the aftermath of a 5-0 win over his former side in which Havertz scored twice to send Arsenal three points clear, the Emirates Stadium reverberated to the sound of Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’, sung in honour of a player emerging as an unlikely hero.

It was quite a scene. The chant has been aired with increasing regularity since his first goal for the club, a penalty at Bournemouth in September. But never with quite this much gusto.

Many doubted him. Mikel Arteta did not. That much was clear in how much he used him even in those awkward early months. Havertz has now featured in all but one of Arsenal’s 34 Premier League fixtures. He played in all 10 of their Champions League games, starting nine.

Those jubilant scenes of celebration at the Emirates in midweek showed he is feeling the love of the club’s supporters too. More of the same against north London rivals Tottenham, live on Sky Sports on Sunday, would strengthen the connection further.

Read Nick Wright’s feature in full on Kai Havertz here.

Can Van de Ven recover from Newcastle mistakes to prove his quality?

Tottenham's Micky van de Ven celebrates after scoring his sides second goal

Image: Micky van de Ven joined Spurs last summer for £43m from Wolfsburg

After their humbling at Newcastle two weeks ago, Tottenham are looking to bounce back in style from the 4-0 defeat at St James’ Park – and so is defender Micky van de Ven.

The Dutchman – signed from Wolfsburg last summer in a £43m deal – had a rare off day on Tyneside after his slips led to Newcastle’s opening two goals.

But the 23-year-old, who will be experiencing his first home north London derby, will want to put that performance behind him and show why he has emerged as one of the Premier League’s standout defenders this season, as proven by metrics provided by Raiola Global Management’s Insight Team.

Van de Ven has excelled in capitalising on opposition mistakes and initiate swift counterattacks for Spurs with 0.45 counter-pressure regains per 90 minutes, while Postecoglou’s side perform considerably better with the centre-back in the side this season – as illustrated below.

*Games with less than 50 minutes of playing time (2) have not been included

Image: *Games with less than 50 minutes of playing time (2) have not been included

Van de Ven has also been influential with the ball at his feet – he is averaging 0.36 successful dribbles per 90 and 50.3 carries per 90, highlighting his importance in driving Spurs forward from deep positions.

His passing accuracy is key in orchestrating attacks too, boasting a 95 per cent pass accuracy and an 82 per cent accuracy in long passes, while his 85 per cent accuracy in pressured passes underlines his composure under duress.

But Van de Ven’s most eye-catching attribute is his pace after he recently made Premier League history by clocking a lightning speed of 37.38 km/h – the fastest player ever recorded in the competition’s history.

Spurs need Van de Ven firing on all cylinders on Sunday if they are to beat their fierce rivals.

Jones Knows – Arsenal to take bragging rights

Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal

Sky Sports’ tipster Lewis Jones:

Tottenham’s frailties out of possession could just get exposed in a big way by Arsenal, who might just be charging towards a Premier League title.

Mikel Arteta’s men are becoming very trustworthy away from home – they have the best away record in the Premier League this season – winning the most points (36), scoring the most goals (39) and conceding the fewest goals (11). At 4/5 with Sky Bet for the away win, I can totally see why they’d be a popular bet.

My eyes have been drawn to Declan Rice’s shots prices.

He is becoming a monster in this Arsenal side, playing in a more advanced role from the left side of the midfield – a position which suits his all-action style. His power tore Chelsea apart in transition on Tuesday night and he’ll be making those same direct runs past a Tottenham midfield that gives you space to do that. Rice has had 22 shots in his last 10 starts across all competitions – his influence in the final third is increasing. This makes the 10/11 with Sky Bet for him to have two or more shots one of the best bets of the weekend card.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-2 | Declan Rice to have +2 shots (10/11 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Watch the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, live on Sky Sports from 1pm; kick-off 2pm.

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