Morning all! Sports Mole
's live Premier League coverage continues from the Emirates Stadium, and it is quite a big one as Arsenal
welcome bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur
in the North London derby. Sixth-placed Arsenal sit four points and three places behind Spurs entering this afternoon's match, and it promises to be another all-action affair in the capital. Stay tuned!
Tottenham recorded a 2-0 victory when the pair last locked horns in the Premier League, although the points were shared in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium last season. Three of the last four fixtures between these two teams have finished level, and Tottenham have not won away to Arsenal in the Premier League since November 2010. It should be a cracking game of football.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Emirates. Both teams have had a number of players away on international duty over the last couple of weeks – how has it impacted both XIs? Let's run through the two teams that will start here...
ARS: Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez
SPURS: Lloris; Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Dembele, Sissoko, Davies; Eriksen, Kane, Alli
and Mesut Ozil are both in the Arsenal XI this afternoon, while Alexandre Lacazette leads the line for a team that once again have Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka in the middle of the park. Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac will operate in the two wing-back positions, but Olivier Giroud fails to make the squad after picking up an injury while representing France during the international break.
As for Tottenham, Harry Kane and Dele Alli are both fit after recovering from knocks over the international break. Mousa Dembele, meanwhile, is preferred to Harry Winks in the middle of the park as Eric Dier drops into centre-back due to the absence of Toby Alderweireld. Christian Eriksen also starts fresh from his Denmark hat-trick, which helped his team qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are just about 40 minutes from kickoff in the capital. I shall speak about the visitors Tottenham a little bit later, but let's start with Arsenal. The Gunners will enter this match down in sixth position in the Premier League table having won six, drawn one and lost four of their 11 matches at the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
Four defeats at this stage of the season is hardly ideal, but Arsene Wenger's side are only four points off second-placed Manchester United, which is an indication of how things stand in the table. Manchester City are the runaway leaders at the moment, and it is going to take some effort for any of the chasing pack to catch a team that look capable of setting records this season.
In terms of recent form, Arsenal will enter this match off the back of a 3-1 defeat at Man City before the international break. They had won four of their previous five in all competitions ahead of the clash at the Etihad Stadium, but were not good enough to overcome the Citizens on home soil.
It is a big few weeks for Arsenal as they travel to high-flying Burnley next weekend, before hosting Huddersfield Town and Man United in their next two. After missing out on the top four last season, there is no Champions League football this term, but the Europa League is in full swing. The Thursday, Sunday run of matches is hardly ideal for a team in the Premier League.
As for Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino's side have won seven, drawn two and lost two of their 11 Premier League matches this season. A win here would move them above Man United into second position, but a defeat and they could end the weekend down in fifth position. It is very tight between second-placed Man United and seventh-placed Burnley, just four points in fact.
Tottenham suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Man United towards the end of last month, but bounced back with a brilliant 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League, before beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Wembley before the international break. The Palace performance was hardly vintage, but they just about did enough to secure all the points. Kickoff is fast approaching here!
Spurs will fancy their chances of putting together a good run of results as they face West Brom (H), Leicester (A), Watford (A), Stoke (H) and Brighton (H) in their next five games after this one. Is this team capable winning the Premier League title this season? I suspect that today will be a good indication.
Pochettino's side lost their last away league game at Man United, but they have won four of their five Premier League matches on the road this season – beating Newcastle United, Everton, West Ham United and Huddersfield. If Tottenham are to seriously challenge for the league this season, these are the type of matches were they have to avoid getting beat. I fancy a draw this afternoon.
Here we go then. The time for talking is almost over. It is Arsenal versus Tottenham in the Premier League. Can the Gunners move to within one point of second position, or will Spurs jump above Manchester United into second? Let's hope for a cracking match. Kickoff at the Emirates is next!
KICKOFF! Tottenham kick things off at the Emirates Stadium...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium this afternoon - let's hope that the football matches it. It is a rainy afternoon in the capital, which has made the pitch moist. You do get the feeling that there will be goals in this one. Hopefully I have not jinxed it.
As expected, it has been all-action in the early stages, with both teams battling for possession. It might take a while for both to settle into some sort of rhythm. Nice flow to the game thus far.
Alli has the chance to find Eriksen with a pass as Arsenal are caught up the field, but the England international takes too long, and the home side can clear their lines. Arsenal then have a half-chance as Sanchez feeds Lacazette in a dangerous area, but the forward's effort is too high.
SAVE! Cech has to keep out a powerful strike from Kane following a mistake from Koscielny, whose header was weak. Both defences are making mistakes in the early moments.
Well, sometimes games of this ilk are cagey, but that has not been the case thus far. Eight minutes on the clock and this is a proper derby as both teams continue to fly into challenges here.
Davies fires the ball straight out of play as Arsenal continue to press high up the field. The home supporters like what they are seeing here. The team in red and white look very much up for this.
It must be said that the first 12 minutes of this match have flown past. Both teams have had decent chances to make the breakthrough, but the score remains goalless. Sanchez and Ozil both look fired-up this afternoon as they continue to chase down loose balls. It is a really good game.
Sanchez heads towards Lacazette as Arsenal threaten once again, but Sanchez does well to poke the ball clear at the vital moment. Tottenham just need to be careful here.
Kane somehow stays onside as he collects the ball in a wide area, but Arsenal sniff out the danger once again. I would be astounded if there were not goals this afternoon - it has been a super start.
Alli works some space inside the Arsenal box after smart work from Sissoko, but the attacker's strike is blocked. Good pressure from the visitors as they start to find their passing range.
CHANCE! Super chance for Arsenal as Ramsey delivers a brilliant pass into Bellerin, who flashes a low cross into the Tottenham box, but Lacazette just cannot make contact!
Tottenham are being forced to defend their own penalty box at the moment as Arsenal continue to force the issue in the final third of the field. There has not been a yellow card in this match, but there have been some tasty challenges - the last of which sees Vertonghen go through Lacazette.
Sanchez finds space in a dangerous area following a corner, but the Chilean's cross is poor. Sanchez has another chance to deliver moments later, but the danger is cleared once again.
Xhaka is fortunate to escape a booking following a late challenge on Sissoko. Lucky!
More pressure from Arsenal following a break down the left, but Sanchez is across to make the challenge, and the resulting corner is also cleared. Tottenham are being seriously tested here.
Davies delivers a super cross into the Arsenal box, but Kane cannot make clean contact under pressure from Monreal. Arsenal then break down the other end with Sanchez, who finds Lacazette, but Lloris is on hand to make the clearance. It is all happening at the Emirates Stadium.
Smart defending from Dier sees Tottenham clear behind for a corner after Ozil had broken into the penalty box once again. Arsenal are really forcing the issue with 30 minutes on the clock.
Tottenham just cannot seem to break at the moment as Arsenal continue to chase down the lose ball. The Gunners have been at it all over the park, but the score is still goalless, which will be a slight worry. It has been a brilliant 32 minutes of football despite the fact there are no goals here.
Eriksen slides a pass towards Kane inside the Arsenal box, but Cech is out to collect.
BOOKING! Xhaka (Arsenal) is booked for a late tackle on Alli.
POST! Eriksen hits the post for Spurs after working space inside the Arsenal box!
SAVE! Cech rises to keep out a towering header from Kane!
Good pressure from Tottenham in the last few moments as they again threaten in a wide area. Davies delivers towards Kane once again, but Mustafi is on hand to make the clearance. Arsenal then break through Sanchez, and Davinson Sanchez is penalised for a foul on the Chilean!
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham (Mustafi)
Arsenal make the breakthrough in the 36th minute as Mustafi rises to head an Ozil free kick into the top corner. It is a super header from the German international!
BOOKING! Sanchez (Arsenal) is booked for a foul on Davinson Sanchez.
Tottenham will be extremely unhappy about the set piece which led to the Arsenal goal, while Mustafi might well have been offside. Not great! Spurs have not been at it this afternoon though.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham (Sanchez)
Arsenal double their lead in the 41st minute as Sanchez smashes home from close range after Lacazette had delivered a low cross into the Chilean. What a moment!
Tottenham need a goal, and they need one quickly. Spurs have been poor in this first period.
WIDE! Kane has a good opening, but sends his effort wide of the post!
We are into the first of two additional minutes at the end of the first period.
HALF-TIME: Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Arsenal leading Tottenham 2-0 courtesy of goals from Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez. Both goals looked a touch offside, but there is no question that Arsenal were the better team in what was a brilliant first 45 minutes of action.
STATISTICS! Tottenham actually shaded the first-half possession with 53%, while they managed five attempts - two of which were on target. Arsenal, meanwhile, hit the target with two of their four attempts, and both found the back of the net. Tottenham have just not been at it this afternoon.
BENCH WATCH! Spurs boss Pochettino has a number of options on his bench this afternoon, with the likes of Aurier, Llorente, Son and Winks all capable of making a difference. Arsenal, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Welbeck, Iwobi, Wilshere and Coquelin. Plenty of talent on both benches!
RESTART! Arsenal resume the action on home soil...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops in the capital.
BOOKING! Mustafi (Arsenal) is booked for a foul on Kane.
Half-chance for Tottenham as Dembele delivers a cross towards Kane, but the striker's header is comfortable for Cech. It has been a decent start to the second period from the visitors here.
BOOKING! Kane (Tottenham) is booked for a late tackle on Xhaka.
The next goal in this match is absolutely massive. If Arsenal score a third then it would probably be game over at this stage, but one for Tottenham would make things very interesting indeed.
Davies delivers a dangerous cross into the Arsenal box, but Monreal is on hand to make the clearance. Good pressure from Tottenham as the second period begins to gather pace here.
Ozil shows excellent feet in a tight area as the German leads a counter-attack, but Sanchez's final pass into the attacker is just too strong. Tottenham then go down the other end with Kane, but the striker's effort is defected wide of the post. All-action stuff in the North London derby here!
Little over 30 minutes of football remaining here, and Arsenal still lead 2-0. Tottenham are fighting their way back into the match, but they are just missing that final piece of magic in attack.
Tottenham continue to pass and probe in the final third, but they are leaving space down the other end for Arsenal to break, and the home side are committing plenty of players forward. I would be astounded if we had seen the end of the goals here. It has been a brilliant game of football thus far.
TOTTENHAM SUB! Winks replaces Dembele for the away team.
Eriksen sends one into the stands from outside the Arsenal box.
Little over 25 minutes of football remaining at the Emirates Stadium, and Arsenal still lead 2-0. Not too much has happened in the second period in terms of clear opportunities here.
You just wonder whether Pochettino will look to introduce Llorente in the final stages of this match. As for Arsenal, Wenger might well look to freshen the middle of his midfield. We are at a key stage of the contest as the home side decide whether to drop deep or go for a third goal to kill the game.
Alexis Sanchez wins a foul in a wide area as Tottenham's counter is cut short.
Sanchez strikes one over the Tottenham crossbar following another slick passing move. Tottenham are just struggling to keep the ball at the moment as the home side enjoy a good spell once again.
Another chance for Sanchez, but the Chilean's effort is weak and straight at Lloris.
BOOKING! Monreal (Arsenal) is booked for a late challenge on Alli.
ARSENAL SUB! Coquelin replaces Lacazette for the home side.
TOTTENHAM SUBS! Llorente and Son replace Alli and Kane.
SAVE! Super save from Lloris to keep out Sanchez from close range!
Little over 10 minutes of football remaining, and Arsenal still lead 2-0. Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few moments, which is exactly what the Gunners would want.
Plenty of possession for Tottenham at the moment, but not an awful lot else.
SAVE! Brilliant save from Cech to keep out Dier's close-range header!
Bellerin has a strike blocked following another quick counter from the home side. Tottenham are getting caught time and time again due to the fact that they have to commit men forward.
ARSENAL SUB! Iwobi replaces Ozil for the home side.
CHANCE! Super chance for Son, who races onto a header from Llorente, but his effort is over the crossbar! That was a big moment for the away side here!
Possession for Tottenham, but Arsenal are holding off their rivals as we enter the final moments. Alexis Sanchez has the chance to break away down the other end, but the Chilean's final ball is poor.
We are into the first of four additional minutes at the end of the 90 here, and Xhaka has just sent a free kick wide of the post. Still time for some late drama at the Emirates Stadium!
Trippier delivers towards Llorente, but Koscielny is on hand to clear once again as Arsenal close on another three points at home. Alexis Sanchez comes close to making it three as he races into the Tottenham box, but the Chilean cannot beat Lloris, who makes a smart save!
Iwobi misses the post with a low strike from outside the Tottenham box.
Son has one deflected over the crossbar as Tottenham come close late on.
FULL-TIME: Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Arsenal recording a 2-0 win over Tottenham to move onto 22 points in the Premier League table. What a performance from the Gunners. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again!