Midweek Musings: North London Derby

North London Derby
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal greet each other prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on November 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

The Arsenal stomped all over the Toffees this weekend, with Aaron Ramsey bagging a hat-trick. Meanwhile, Henrikh Mkhitaryan marks his full debut with a trio of assists as the Gunners prepare for another North London Derby.

Another North London Derby

The win against Everton was fun to watch, however, the team is weaker because of it. Petr Cech had to go off injured in the second half, although speculation persists that he will be fit sooner rather than later. Nacho Monreal also went off, although Arsene Wenger tells us this was due to illness.

Despite these minor setbacks, the team seems like it is ready to turn over a new leaf. After the season we’ve had, a turn in fortune is the only thing that could salvage some pride for the fans.

Form

Neither club has lit the world on fire lately. In the last five games, Arsenal have won just twice, while they lost another two and have drawn one. Meanwhile, Hots*** haven’t lost a match in their last five, but have drawn three, meaning only two wins in the same span as the Gunners.

The last North London Derby played out as an emphatic win for Arsenal, taking the points in a 2-0 home victory. However, the last NLD where Tottenham were at home, the Gunners slumped to a 2-0 defeat.

The three previous meetings beforehand played out as draws, dating back to November 2015.

Hots*** may be on a slightly higher high than their opponents, having beaten Manchester United at home recently, followed by a dramatic, if controversial, 2-2 last-minute draw at Anfield.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have definitely made a splash in the transfer window. They smashing their previous transfer record to purchase Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Dortmund. Also joining is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the striker’s former teammate at Signal Iduna Park.

The Implication

The teams are just four points apart in the table. The hosts occupy fifth and the visitors sixth. Both are still hopeful of a top-four finish and, with 12 games remaining, they have a right to be.

North London Derby

Table courtesy of Premierleague.com

Meanwhile, Chelsea are, as you probably know, in a state of near-crisis. They were hammered by Watford on Monday and have won just once in their last five outings, including a loss to the Gunners.

The defending Champions are still clinging to fourth place, however, have a tough schedule for the remainder of the season. The Blues will travel to Manchester for back-to-back fixtures against both City and United later this month.

Antonio Conte’s men will also host both Hots*** and Liverpool before the season is out.

For comparison, after the North London Derby, Arsenal will also face both Manchester clubs, but they will be the only remaining fixtures against the Big Six. Tottenham and Liverpool have fairly similar run-ins.

So, this edition of the Derby will have added significance, as if one team could get three points, they will be well-positioned to overtake Chelsea.

Of course, with Arsenal still trailing fifth-placed Spuds by four points, a win would only go so far for Arsene Wenger’s men. This makes the North London Derby one of the most crucial matches left for the club.

…In Other News

Alexis Sanchez is off to a great start at Old Trafford. He missed a penalty for his new team, only depositing the ball in the net after pouncing on a rebound. He also finds himself in legal hot water.

Just like Ronaldo, Messi and Mourinho before him, the Chilean has been caught cheating on taxes. Its been rumored these cases are due to unclear tax regulations in Spain, where Sanchez played for Barcelona previous to Arsenal.

Alexis receives a suspended jail sentence and must pay about €1 million in back taxes. If he fails to pay, Alexis would receive a 16-month prison term.

Meanwhile, Thomas Lemar has rejected a contract extension from Monaco, fueling speculation of his future. The midfielder is heavily linked with both Arsenal and Liverpool.

Lemar’s refusal to sign a new deal is seen as proof of his intent to leave France this summer.

Another transfer target, Bordeaux’s Malcom, has revealed he wished to leave in January, however, no move materialized. It is unknown if the Gunners are in for the winger in the summer.

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