Soccer Saturday pundits Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson & Matt Le Tissier give their verdicts on Arsenal v Tottenham in Sunday's north London derby.
Matt Le Tissier
Both of these sides come into it off the back of a defeat and they need to get back on track to have serious hopes of finishing in the Champions League places, even at this early stage. You can excuse Arsenal more than Tottenham because they shouldn't be getting beaten by Newcastle. Arsenal’s defence will be tested but whether their attackers can get the better of Tottenham’s defence will be the key match-up for me.
I think there is still room for improvement with Arsenal’s defence, as they gave the ball away in their own final third way too easily. They have to go back to basics when defending, as not all of those players at the back are comfortable enough on the ball to be knocking it around like that.
Tottenham’s midfield needs to be more creative than what they have been so far. I have been surprised they haven’t started Christian Eriksen all the time - you either keep him out of the squad completely or play him and hope that he puts himself in the market with the performances he demonstrates, which in turn will win you football matches.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 10/1 - Click Here to add to Bet Slip)
I cannot say I expected any more from the Liverpool game last week. Arsenal played alright but David Luiz cost us with stupid mistakes, which is what he does at times. Arsenal did not deserve anything but they could have threatened. He didn’t play Alexandre Lacazette and Dani Ceballos should have played further forward than he did. But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe had chances and I did not come away from the game feeling overly disappointed as I do not feel like we got embarrassed.
Unai Emery does not trust his players enough yet in these big games as he always tends to leave Lacazette out and go with pace. Joe Willock did OK but didn’t get on the ball much.
You need to go into these games with the best attackers on the pitch and I would always play Lacazette through the middle, with Pepe on the right and Aubameyang on the left. Tottenham are nervous at the moment and mistakes always come from these matches so we need players on the field who can take those chances. Ceballos needs to be closer to the front three too.
If Mesut Ozil is match-fit I would be tempted to play him.
There should be goals in this game, as we have a back four who will make mistakes, and we need to worry about Harry Kane along with the pace of Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura.
Whether Mauricio Pochettino will they bring Christian Eriksen back into the fold for this big game is another question, but he is not quite sure in his team currently.
The right-back will be vulnerable against Aubameyang and Tottenham do not convince me at the back at all, so while they should score, I think Arsenal will edge it. I would play Mateo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira to protect the back four and then let the attackers play.
If they can go and beat Tottenham, it is a very good start to the season for Arsenal.
Prediction: Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 50/1 - Click here to add to Bet Slip)
Both teams are not properly sorted yet - Arsenal have made good signings and things were looking up after they had a good start to the season, but then we get a knee-jerk reaction about them after losing at Liverpool.
They can be amazing in one game and poor in another - and as always we in the media and everyone else debates the shape and formation Unai Emery goes with. He certainly got it wrong with his formation against Liverpool, so from having a 100 per cent start from the first two games, questions suddenly start being thrown about with the shape, signings and all of the above. I thought this was very strange.
On the other side you then have the Tottenham conundrum. Everyone thinks with the new signings such as Tanguy Ndombele in midfield that things will only get better. They needed a central midfield player, but the bigger questions are not over the ones who have come in but the ones who may be leaving.
There are question marks over Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, and more importantly, Christian Eriksen. He is the most difficult one for me because he did not start the first game, he started the second, and then was out against Newcastle. To me, he is one of the most creative players in the league, which is what they have lacked in those matches when he doesn't play.
There is more to the situation with Eriksen looking to run down his contract and go for free next year. Somehow, some way, I think there has already been a deal done for Eriksen and the club understands that. Even with a year left on his contract he could be worth £50m but it is a sorry tale that is being played out.
Again, Tottenham have come into the season with a bit of hope, breaking their transfer record, but again question marks are raised over their chances of being title contenders after this brief period.
It is a strange derby game. I think Arsenal are further on than Tottenham, which is why I am going to go for an Arsenal win.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 17/2 - Click to add to Bet Slip)
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