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North London Derby takes centre stage again as table takes shape

Thursday 3rd November 2016
Without all the title and table ramifications; the North London derby is a massive game by itself. Add in both team's title ambitions and current form and it soon becomes a gigantic affair – as one of the biggest matches of the season.

It's a special day across London, two of its biggest teams are participating in a real fixture of passion and grit. It's not just a game contested with football, but with determination. There's an awful lot of pride on the line with this game; neither team want to lose this game – the fan's wrath for doing so is brutal and unforgiving.

The last time the teams met was in the title run-in of last season, in a tense game at White Hart Lane where a winner was needed to really keep up with Leicester, neither prevailed. The game ended at 2-2, but the game itself was a real watch. Ramsey secured the lead before half-time for the Gunners, yet early on in the second saw, Coquelin dismissed. Tottenham took advantage of 10-man Arsenal as they scored two in as many minutes to take the lead. Realising they could still challenge for the title with a point, Arsenal continued to fight and Alexis scored a late equaliser. At which point, neither team wanted to lose. Although Tottenham would have felt harder done by, having had a full attacking compliment.
Highlights from the aforementioned game.

This meeting on Sunday sees both teams come in rather hot. Both in the classier section of the table, Arsenal are second but only behind Manchester City on goal difference. Since their opening day defeat, they've gone unbeaten in every game. A lot of those games they've even won too. Last weekend the Gunners won empathically against Sunderland and mid-week produced a heroic comeback against Ludogorets. A large part of Arsenal's successes this season has been down to their character and resiliency; Arsenal of old would have thrown the towel in after conceding. This ‘team of men' as Wenger refers to them simply dust themselves down and go harder. That's been evident in the amount of games where they've lost a winning position, yet regained it and gone on to win.

Tottenham Hotspur also has their own plaudits this season, they are the only team to go unbeaten in the league. This has been a product of their resolute defence; which has only seen five goals go past Lloris all season. Although the defensive capability is great, it isn't married up with an attacking prowess. The team are currently fifth in the league but have scored less than sixth-placed Everton. The absence of Harry Kane has seemingly taken its toll on Spurs forward play. They might be able to keep Arsenal out, but if they can't score – they certainly won't win. Tottenham's spirits may be slightly dampened by their mid-week defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. However, if there was a game to re-energise players it'd certainly be the North London Derby.
Whilst at this point in the season; a result for either team won't make or break their seasons – but the table has already taken a shape. A losing team will find themselves trying to regain ground, week after week, hoping for other teams to falter – whilst a victorious team would stay on track, and take the glory of beating another title challenging team. No doubt this will be another epic encounter with each team trying to stake their claim to the throne of North London.
Warren Smith

A British and J.League soccer enthusiast, now local to Yokohama, Japan. A keen Arsenal supporter. Has been known to play the game every once in awhile, once likened to Xherdan Shaqiri. 

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