This week in: English Football – Spurs vs Arsenal

Two teams, both alike in dignity,

Shakespearean Rivals

In fair Tottenham, where we lay our scene…

Actually, the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets seems rather tame in comparison to the North London derby – after all Romeo and Juliet ultimately bridged the divide between the two families through their deaths, nothing has yet done that for Spurs and the scum Arsenal. I’ve covered my distaste for the other lot before; I was thrilled to write about Spurs’s fantastic comeback last year when they won at the Emirates, but the importance of every game never diminishes to supporters – we are never satisfied with the history – the next game is the one we really want to win.

This year, there’s something different about the upcoming game – Tottenham should actually consider themselves favourites to win.  They sit 7 places and 2 points above Arsenal, despite having played one less game, following three straight victories over Wolves, Liverpool and Wigan.  In contrast, the Gunners have been struggling for form and have won just 2 of their 6 league comes – those triumphs coming over Bolton, who have lost 5 in a row, and Premiership newcomers Swansea City.  Away from home their form has been even worse, taking just 1 point from a possible 9 and conceding 12 goals in those games – although 8 of those did come at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

Looking at the probable starting line-ups, there is no reason for Spurs to consider themselves underdogs for a change.  With Scott Parker adding grit to a midfield full of flare with Modric, Bale and Van der Vaart, and former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor having made an excellent start since joining on loan from Manchester City, Tottenham have the core of a very strong team.  In contrast, Arsenal lost their two best players last year as both Nasri and Fabregas left for pastures new, have little up front other than Robin Van Persie, and still look very vulnerable at the back despite the addition of German defender Per Mertersacker.  Spurs have a great opportunity to put a significant gap between themselves and their North London rivals this Sunday – for once I am confident they will be able to do it.

Elsewhere this weekend, it is the Merseyside derby as Everton host Liverpool; Manchester United try to return to winning ways, having drawn with Stoke last week, when they play Norwich at Old Trafford; Blackburn take on Manchester City; Aston Villa, who have shared the points in 5 of their 6 games this year, are at home to Wigan; and Chelsea will be picking up 3 more points at Bolton.

Predictions

Last week, 7-3, overall 17-12

Everton vs Liverpool – Draw

Aston Villa vs Wigan – Home win

Blackburn vs Man City – Away win

Man United vs Norwich – Home win

Sunderland vs West Brom – Home win

Wolves vs Newcastle – Draw

Bolton vs Chelsea – Away win

Fulham vs QPR – Away win

Swansea vs Stoke – Home win

Tottenham vs Arsenal – Home win

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