North London Derby Preview
4 min read

North London Derby Preview

It all comes down to Thursday for Arsenal.

Thankfully Arsenal have put themselves in the position of not needing a win, but a win can punch their ticket into the Champions League while also guaranteeing a St Totteringham's day for the first time since 2016.

It looked like this was going to be a match full of nerves and while it might not have the same level it looked like a couple of weeks ago, it will still have a match that is forecast for 90 minutes of misery.

What's on the line

Before we get too far into the preview let's set what the results mean for both teams.

An Arsenal win means they cannot finish lower than 4th place, giving them a 100% chance of playing in the Champions League. Spurs wouldn't be fully eliminated with a 0.2% chance of still catching Chelsea (this depends on what Chelsea does Wednesday).

A draw is almost as good for Arsenal leaving them 91% for the top four, with Spurs at 9%.

A loss would be devastating for us fans but the four-point cushion going into the match would still give Arsenal the edge over the last two matches with 55% for the top four to Spurs 47%. This is the worst result for Chelsea as that puts them from high 99% to 98%.

Spurs Team Ratings

Spurs are ranked as the 4th best team in the Premier League in my team rating system, they have the 4th best attack and the 5th best defense.

Arsenal are rated as the 5th best team in the Premier League, with the 5th best attack and the 6th rated defense.

On paper, this is a very close match-up. Both teams have had similar trajectories this season, starting poorly and finishing strong.

Spurs Team Leaders

For the longest time the story of Spurs was sit deep, and then hope Son and Kane could do something. Now that is still mostly true but the addition of Dejan Kulusevski has added a third true threat to this team.

For ball progression, it is still a team effort to get the ball up the field for them, but the other big January transfer, Rodrigo Benatancur has also helped in this regard.

When they do get the ball into areas to shoot, it is still down to their forwards as their main threats for scoring.

Danger Areas

Tottenham are a right-sided biased team in attack for creation.

But without much of a noticeable skew in where the actual shots are taken from.

For Arsenal, this does leave a tough decision on what to do about the left-back situation. The left side is the area where Spurs attack to create chances and it would be a bit nervy to depend on Nuno Tavares defending in key areas against Kane and Kulusevski. If Arsenal does move Takehiro Tomiyasu to the left again that leaves Son against Cedric and that comes with its own issues.

This will be a tough choice for Mikel Arteta and one that might see him go safety first and start with three center backs from the start.

Match Odds

Tottenham are favorites in my model for this match but not overwhelmingly so.

The betting odds are roughly in line with this with Spurs at 46% and Arsenal at 28%. FiveThirtyEight is a bit more in Arsenal's favor with 42% for Spurs and 33% for Arsenal.

It will be interesting how the incentives of winning and drawing play out in this match. I could imagine that Arsenal with big incentives to not lose come out playing a bit more conservative and make Spurs try and force things.