The biggest NLD for years
Arsenal take on Tottenham Hotspur at Saturday lunchtime in one of the most eagerly-awaited North London derbies in years.
Not many people would have predicted both the Gunners and Spurs to finish in the top four this season, but both have looked impressive in their opening seven encounters.
Mikel Arteta’s men took huge positive strides in the 2021/22 campaign and have continued that momentum at the start of this term, despite being pipped by Spurs at the back end of last season.
Spurs seem like a more well oiled machine under Antonio Conte, and they probably have established title-challenging players, but the Gunners’ performances at the beginning of the season have to be taken into account.
It does feel like Arsenal have had a kind run of fixtures to begin the campaign, and they were humbled to a 3-1 scoreline at Manchester United, but their process has been impressive regardless.
Arsenal have scored 17 goals from 14.3 expected goals (xG) for in seven outings, creating chances at an average of 2.04 xGF per game.
Defensively they have been nothing short of outstanding, and William Saliba’s presence in the backline has made coming up against Arsenal a far more intimidating prospect.
They are allowing just 0.8 xGA per game so far this season, a process that will see them safely into a top four spot if they can sustain it.
Spurs have scored 18 goals but their process has been narrowly worse than Arsenal’s, but the confidence that Son Heung-Min would have built with a hat-trick off the bench in their 6-2 win over Leicester City before the break cannot be underestimated.
Conte does seem to have an edge on Arteta in terms of his CV and approach to big matches, but the Gunners are very strong at the Emirates Stadium, it is a tough one to call.
My angle into this one, Spurs have the stronger squad, but the Gunners can turn it on at home and have improved considering at the back.
Arsenal have scored in eight of eight.
Arsenal have conceded in five of eight.
Arsenal have seen both teams score in five of eight.
Arsenal have seen over 2.5 goals in seven of eight.
Spurs have scored in eight of nine.
Spurs have conceded in six of nine.
Spurs have seen both teams score in five of nine.
Spurs have seen over 2.5 goals in four of nine.