The date most eagerly anticipated on the footballing calendar has come early this year, as the Capital One Cup pits arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal against each other.
For the last decade, Spurs and the Gunners have been combatting furiously domestically, and whilst we’ve had the edge in recent matches, it’s never been enough to overtake the Woolwich settlers.
However, such an encounter this early into the season presents an interesting scenario; when we met Arsenal in September of last year, many of us were expecting a thrashing at the Emirates, yet escaped with a 1-1 draw. This time around, though Arsenal are ahead in the table by a solitary point, spirits are a lot higher in N17.
Unbeaten since the start of the season, Spurs have had a lot to shout about recently, constantly fielding some of the youngest sides in Premier League history and playing some scintillating stuff yet again.
Over in Islington, Arsene Wenger’s men have been struggling recently; their shock 2-1 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb was followed by a disheartening 2-0 loss at Chelsea. With their squad thinning due to fitness concerns and suspensions, expect Arsenal to field a second-string team at White Hart Lane.
Whilst Tottenham are on an upward-spiral, Mauricio Pochettino is likely to rotate his starting eleven too considering the gruelling fixture schedule (don’t forget, we host Manchester City on Saturday).
The North London derby is one of the greatest sporting rivalries, but how have the previous fixtures faired?
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal (07/02/2015, Premier League)
A cold, grey afternoon was the setting for our most recent encounter with Arsenal, but luckily, pathetic fallacy only applied to the visitors after 90 minutes.
Mesut Ozil gave the Gunners an early lead, before Arsene Wenger decided to switch to a tactic that saw his side win at Manchester City a few weeks earlier – get everyone behind the ball.
The gangly Frenchman had realised his side’s couldn’t out-football their opponents in big games, and so playing deep seemed like a reasonable alternative.
Fortunately for us, Arsenal were sat a little too deep, inviting too much pressure from a side that plays with that aspect cranked up.
Harry Kane tapped in Erik Lamela’s corner early into the second half, before heading home Nabil Bentaleb’s cross five minutes from full time.
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (27/09/2014, Premier League)
Coming into this fixture without a league win in three games, Spurs fans were understandably fearing this fixture.
Nacer Chadli eased these fears just before the hour mark, latching onto Lamela’s through ball and swiping his strike past the oncoming Szczesny.
Arsenal dominated the game with 69% possession and with 16 shots to 6, and this showed with twenty minutes to go as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equalised for the Gunners.
This match became infamous amongst Spurs fans for being the last time Younes Kaboul put in a monstrous performance in our colours – the club captain was dropped from the team just over a month later.
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Arsenal (16/03/2014, Premier League)
Tomas Rosicky’s thunderous strike just over a minute into this encounter was enough to seal the points as Arsenal’s (failed) title charge gathered momentum.
From then on, it was all Tottenham. Emmanuel Adebayor and Nacer Chadli came close to Spurs, but it seemed like one of those days where nothing was going right.
As mentioned, both sides are likely to rotate their squads, but there are a few names who definitely won’t feature.
Nabil Bentaleb is still a couple of weeks away from returning to training, Alex Pritchard is struggling with a knock, and Mousa Dembele is unlikely to feature – there could be a return for Ryan Mason however.
In the Arsenal camp, Gabriel had his suspension overturned and so could feature. Francis Coquelin has been ruled out by Arsene Wenger, whilst Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are all long term absentees.
Who will write the next chapter in this illustrious fixture?
Predicted XI: Lloris; Trippier, Fazio, Wimmer, Rose; Vertonghen, Mason; N’Jie, Eriksen, Townsend; Kane