With the exception of Thomas Partey, who needed some minutes on the comeback trail from injury, Mikel Arteta went with his second-string players midweek against Wimbledon, though that was always going to be the case against the League One outfit and the 3-0 scoreline came as no surprise.
More welcome has ben the back-to-back clean sheets the Gunners have managed in Premier League victories over Norwich and Burnley, especially with their previous result a 5-0 humbling at the hands of Man City, albeit with 10 men after Granit Xhaka’s first half red card.
Whereas Arsenal began the season in disarray, also losing 2-0 to both Brentford and Chelsea, while being somewhat fortunate the result against the latter wasn’t worse, Arteta now has his favoured personnel available all over the pitch.
In goal, Aaron Ramsdale appears a far more suitable fit given Bernd Leno’s discomfort at playing out from the back as Arteta demands, while in addition to his introduction, the past two league games have also seen the same back four utilized.
Arsenal To Beat Spurs
Kieran Tierney was one of few Arsenal players to come out of last season with some credit and is expected to recover in time for the derby, while on the other flank, similarly tough-tackling but more defensive Japanese international Takehiro Tomiyasu has added some much-needed steel and balance to the side.
Moreover, there are signs of an understanding developing between summer recruit Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes, who are clearly going to be Arteta’s preferred duo in the middle when fit.
Whilst the defence has undergone the biggest transformation, Arteta now has the option of playing with two holding midfielders (Partey/Xhaka) or just one with creative duo Emile Smith-Rowe and Martin Odegaard ahead.
There’s also greater balance in attack, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing through the middle and natural wide men Bukayo Saka and Pepe on the flanks.
Tottenham also came through their League Cup tie with Wolves, though had a harder time as they needed penalties to complete the job. However, they’ve now failed to win inside 90 minutes in their past four games, following 3-0 league defeats to both Crystal Palace and Chelsea, as well as a disappointing draw with Rennes in Europe.
That leaves them having conceded 10 times in four appearances, and may need more time to bed in new recruits Emerson Royal and Cristian Romero. Moreover, at the other end of the pitch, Nuno Espirito Santo is struggling to find a formula that gets the best out of Harry Kane following his failed bid to leave the club this summer.
There’s a sense that Arsenal are just waiting to come unstuck when a key player becomes unavailable, but they head into this derby in good shape.
They haven’t lost at home to Tottenham in the league since 2010 and have won three of the past four unbeaten meetings at the Emirates since 2017/18.
ARSENAL TO BEAT SPURS