On any ordinary day if you walk into a pub in the northern part of London you’d be well served with the beer of your choice regardless of the club you support, after all, business is business.
But this weekend, things are not the same and by same we are not only talking about the heartwarming service at the pub but also about the people who visit them to grab a drink or two. It’s the North London derby and it’s that time of the year when regions get divided on the basis of allegiances. While the Chelsea faithful might take pride in being the biggest club in London because of their European conquests, the biggest rivalry in London still remains between the Lily whites and the Gunners.
And to be honest this isn’t just a battle of tactics and talismans that the fans would be talking about. It is a matter of local pride and that’s where the emotions of the derby takeover, walking down the streets of North London abundant pubs are found that are decorated in the colours of either Arsenal or Tottenham with signboards that highlight offers for the fellow fans followed by a sarcastic dig towards the local rivals. And that’s where the derby fever kicks in.
Derbies these days come with a touch of professionalism, be it the Merseyside derby or the Manchester derby, the modern approach is inevitable to the build-up itself with managers looking to put on a formidable side and safeguarding their crucial players for the big European nights. But with a gap so narrow at the top of the table neither of the managers would put a team less than the fullest potential of their respective squads.
However, the biggest talking point of the derby surely has to be about the front men of the two sides. Harry Kane has been in red-hot form and comes back off two back to back victories. A wonder goal against Chelsea sealed a huge victory for the Spurs with Kane back among the goals and in the Premier League golden boot race. But it’s not only Kane who is going all guns blazing for the Spurs, fellow teammates Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Heung Min Son have also found themselves back in form with Son and Alli scoring the other two goals in their 3-1 mauling of Chelsea and Eriksen adding a couple of assists to his tally. Despite these results, Spurs are still missing a key man at the back in Jan Vertonghen.
Arsenal, however, left it late against Bournemouth when Aubameyang tapped in late to rescue the 3 points for the Gunners. They come into the derby after an impressive string of results but a last-minute injury scare for Alexandre Lacazette in training might be worrying signs for Unai Emery and his men. Arsenal’s biggest problem still remains with their backline which has been leaking goals time and again. But an in-form Bernd Leno in between the sticks and a double pivot of Guendouzi and Torreira would be the screen that might protect the Gunner’s leaky defence.
Arsenal, meanwhile, would be relying heavily on midfield ace Mesut Ozil who has an ill-reputation of ‘disappearing’ when it comes to the big games. Ozil has raised the bar to a whole new level after taking over the armband, putting in performances that would surely roll back his hay days with Werder Bremen and Schalke.
From Thierry Henry’s famous knee slide celebration in front of the Tottenham fans to Gareth Bale’s loud scream in front of the cameras after scoring the winner, the North London derby has always been a landmark fixture in the footballing calendar that has always given the viewers goals, moments and memories. While for the fans on both the camps it may be a nerve-wracking affair but for the neutral football fans, this has to be the game of the weekend.