Saturday’s North London derby carries greater significance than usual, with unprecedented bragging rights available for Tottenham against Arsenal.
The Gunners’ standing at the top of the Premier League marks the first occasion since December 2007 that the two sides have faced off against each other with one of them top of the league.
And a Spurs victory would mark the first time in top-flight history that a win in the derby results in one side replacing the other at the summit.
Both teams are in stellar form so far in the 2022-23 campaign, with Arsenal’s only blip coming in a defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, while Spurs stand alongside Manchester City as the only teams yet to taste defeat this term.
Mikel Arteta and Antonio Conte have more than steadied their respective ships since taking charge, but all managers have a stern challenge this campaign due to the World Cup, with the end of the international break beginning a seven-week countdown until the first fixture in Qatar.
Building momentum before the season pauses will therefore be vital, and both sides will look to their leading forwards to drive them, though the players differ as one has an established record while the other is at the start of their derby journey.
Kane’s killer edge
Tottenham striker Harry Kane is well renowned for his goalscoring prowess and few have experienced it first hand as much as Arsenal, with the England skipper scoring 13 times in the Premier League against the Gunners – more than any other player in the competition’s history.
That tally includes a brace against Arteta’s side in a 3-0 victory in May, a result which altered the course of the top-four battle and ultimately resulted in Spurs’ place in the Champions League and Arsenal’s continued absence from the top-tier of European football.
Defending against Spurs, and Kane, has been a clear problem in recent years, with six of the forward’s 13 goals in North London derbies coming from the penalty spot, and he will fancy his chances against an Arsenal side who continue to have issues at the back.
While the season has yielded six wins in seven matches for Arsenal, clean sheets have been an issue with the Gunners yet to secure one at the Emirates Stadium in 2022-23 amid an eight-game sequence at home failing to keep the opposition at bay.
If Arsenal do manage to keep Kane quiet, Son Heung-min provides another huge threat.
Son will be encouraged after ending his early season drought with a stunning hat-trick as a substitute against Leicester City prior to the international break.
He has been involved in six goals in his last five against the Gunners (four goals, two assists), though only one of those has been on Arsenal soil.
Jesus takes the wheel
With Spurs possessing two players with an established record of causing Arsenal problems, Arteta will hope to rely on Gabriel Jesus to begin his own streak in his first north London derby appearance.
The Brazil forward has swiftly become an integral part of Arteta’s squad, contributing four goals and three assists in his first seven Premier League appearances, though the Gunners are waiting on him to prove himself as a big-game player in his early days at the club.
While at City, Jesus failed to score in nine derby appearances against Manchester United and found the net just once against Tottenham – but he was never the leading man for Pep Guardiola, in contrast to his role at Arsenal.
Jesus’ predecessors at Arsenal had decent form against Spurs, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having four goals in seven derby appearances and Alexandre Lacazette scoring four in nine, highlighting a void that the Gunners need filling.
Arsenal may have shared scoring responsibility this season, Jesus with four while Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard have three, but it is their big-money recruit who needs to deliver on Saturday to deny Spurs and Kane a memorable result.
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