“There are two derbies in the World, The North London Derby and The Rest” such was the enthusiasm with which an Arsenal fan I met at the paper stand this morning spoke.
Even as unequivocal as he sounded, I doubt he fully understands what the derby is all about. To me he’s just that everyday Nigerian Gooner driven by passion to defend everything Arsenal-ish. To him Alexis, perhaps is best player that ever lived.
Whether he really meant this statement, I may never know. However, his sentiments give us an insight into how pumped up Football fans in Nigeria – with little or no sp*rs fans- and indeed all other football fans across the globe are in anticipation for the first North London derby of the season.
Even more can be said of how tense the atmosphere at the Emirates stadium will be when the game kicks off. The managers and the players alike are aware of what’s at stake. This is one of the few times that a win is worth more than three points.
Albeit the gap between the Red and White halves of North London has widened in recent years- a result of varying reasons-, it all counts for nothing when the refree kicks off this afternoon at the Emirates.
How will the teams play:
Arsenal: Wenger is expected to make wholesale alterations to the team that lost to Southampton on Tuesday. Barring any late injuries, Arsenal’s back line will remain as it was last weekend at Aston Villa, with Gibbs and Chambers flanking the duo of Per and Koscienly.
The midfield is where the selection dilemma sets in.
Given the plethora of midfield options available at Wenger’s disposal, it’s quite difficult to ascertain who will or won’t make the starting 11. If Wenger’s comments at the press conference yesterday are anything to go by ( he hinted at shunting Ozil back to flanks), we’re going to see the trio of Ramsey, Wilshere and Arteta/Flamini (4-1-4-1 is back mates). Upfront should be Alexis, Welbz and Ozil.
Probable 11: Szczesny, Gibbs, Chambers, Per, Koscienly, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Alexis, Welbz.
Sp*rs: Mauricio Pochettino is also expected to make wholesale changes for his first North London derby. Ex-Arsenal man Emmanuel Adebayor, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli are all expected to return for the white totts** in what will look like a strong line up.
Probable 11: Lloris, Rose, Vertoghen, Kaboul, Dier, Capuoe, Dembele, Chadli, Eriksen, Lamela, Adebayor.
Key Men to Watch:
Ozil: Regardless of where the Germany Alchemist is deployed this afternoon, if it’s one of his days, he will definitely wreck havoc. His combination play with Sanchez and Welbz will be vital in Arsenal’s attack play in breaking up the At times defiant Spurs defense.
Ramsey is also player that will be key in this tie.
Lloris: Should Sp*rs intend to get anything from this derby, they’d have to hope this Frenchman is on top form. No doubt he’s a top class goalkeeper he’s saves will prove vital as the game run its course.
Verdict: Its going to be a battle of wits between managers of both teams. Pochettino’s High pressing and Wenger’s 4-1-4-1(this seems to me as the game set up for the big teams this season, probably to addresss last season’s 6-0s against the big teams).
What is also certain is that we’re going to be treated to football at its absolute best.
My Heart(called 3-0 against A.villa correctly) says 4-1 to the Arsenal, head says the same too.