EPL

Big Match Focus: Arsenal v Tottenham (Sunday 16:30 BST)

By Sports Desk August 29, 2019

Losses for Arsenal and Tottenham last weekend are set to add extra spice to the always feisty north London derby at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners were comfortably outdone by a Mohamed Salah-inspired Liverpool in a 3-1 defeat that ended their perfect start to the Premier League season.

Times are even tougher for Tottenham, who slipped up at home to Newcastle United and seem distracted by the transfer speculation surrounding star playmaker Christian Eriksen.

Clarity of purpose can be discovered in matches of this magnitude but a survey of the Opta data sheds light on just how difficult it will be for Spurs to succeed.

 

AWAY GAME NO ESCAPE FOR SPURS

Lucas Moura urged Tottenham to stop dropping "stupid points" at home right before the loss to lowly Newcastle.

Taking a break from the club's shiny new 62,000-seater ground might seem attractive in the wake of last weekend's result but there is scant consolation to be found on the road, even when the journey is only brief.

Spurs are winless in seven Premier League away games, a run not endured since an eight-game streak between December 2011 and April 2012.

Goals from Son Heung-min and Dele Alli did secure an EFL Cup victory at Emirates Stadium last season.

Could it be regarded as something of a wasted win?

Only once before - in 1925 and 1926 - have Tottenham won consecutive matches at Arsenal and it would take a first away league victory for Mauricio Pochettino over Unai Emery at the fifth attempt to break almost 100 years of history.

HEAD TO HEAD: DAVID LUIZ V DAVINSON SANCHEZ

Both sides need to return to form and, individually, so too do David Luiz and Davinson Sanchez.

The former was outfoxed by Salah for each of the Egyptian's two goals at Anfield, while Colombia international Sanchez completely lost Joelinton for Newcastle's winner.

Should he again be selected ahead of Jan Vertonghen, Sanchez will have a big job to do against Arsenal's dangerous, quick forwards and there are clear improvements he must make.

The 23-year-old has won a meagre 55 per cent of his tackles since the start of the last Premier League season, far inferior to the more experienced David Luiz's success rate of 74 per cent.

Opposition players also dribble past the Spurs centre-back with far more regularity - 0.77 times per match - than his fellow South American, who gets beaten an average of 0.24 times every 90 minutes.

David Luiz, winner of 54 per cent of aerial battles, remains some way short of a perfect back-four member and could struggle to deal with Harry Kane if Spurs can sling inviting crosses into the area.

FORM GUIDE

Arsenal headed to Merseyside with a maximum six Premier League points already registered and left with their confidence dented.

Emery's tactical tweaks subdued a slick Liverpool for close to 45 minutes but, once Joel Matip made the breakthrough, the European champions were simply too strong.

Still, after wins against Newcastle and Burnley, it could be worse, as Pochettino can attest.

His team's luck ran out after a fortunate draw at Manchester City as they spluttered to a 1-0 loss at home to Steve Bruce's Magpies, a side that had been reeling from a harrowing defeat on the road to Norwich City. 

Sluggish starts have been an issue: Watford are the only other Premier League team to have conceded the opening goal in all three matches this term.

HISTORY SAYS...

Beware the September specialists!

Sunday heralds the end of August and marks the beginning of a traditionally excellent month for Arsenal.

The Gunners have won more Premier League games (60) and boast a higher win rate (61 per cent) than any other side in September.

Converting penalties is important whichever page the calendar is on and particularly so in the north London derby.

Harry Kane scored one in March, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not, and now spot-kicks have been the source of five of the past 14 goals in this fixture.

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    "I am discovering myself also as a player. Guardiola asked me how I see myself there [as central defender] and I decided to try because the team needed me," he explained.

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    He scored his fifth Premier League goal of the current campaign during last Sunday's 3-1 defeat to leaders Liverpool at Anfield.

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