This was the expectation. The North London Derby was too much of a teasing dangling carrot for the Premier League not to make the fixture a top-four decider. The expectation is that Arsenal will travel to Tottenham on the week commencing May the 9th. Although this is yet to be confirmed.
Reports suggest that it is set to be a dramatic week of football with Manchester United scheduled to face Chelsea over that weekend. Arsenal though can take some positivity from the decision as their preceding and subsequent fixtures are more assailable than Spurs’.
Tottenham will play Liverpool the weekend before as the Reds will still be embroiled in a race for the title with Manchester City. Whilst Arsenal host a relegation battling Leeds United.
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Arsenal will then travel to Newcastle who could be safe from the drop by then whereas Antonio Conte will have to overcome the visit of a Burnley team likely to still be very involved in the relegation scrap. A Burnley side that it is worth noting beat Spurs earlier in the season.
Ultimately form always goes out the window in the North London Derby and Arsenal would be working with the records against them. The Gunners have not won a league match at Spurs since Mikel Arteta himself was a player back in 2014.
A stonking strike from Tomas Rosicky in the opening minute gave Arsenal a 1-0 win. Since then, Harry Kane has ruled the home fixture for Tottenham and Mikel Arteta will be hoping to turn around yet more historical tough spots in the schedule.
Wins over Aston Villa, Wolves and Leicester City away from home have all come and gone, but this is altogether a very different beast. Even the home win over Spurs can be little more than a reminder rather than a factor in the possible result.
Spurs are an altogether very different team. Antonio Conte has replaced Nuno Espirito Santo and both Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur have arrived from Juventus to improve the side somewhat.
The narrative has also grown since then. The derby was due to be played in January however Arsenal requested a postponement after experiencing a Covid-19 case in combination with several injuries and African Cup of Nations absences meaning they were, by the guidelines set out by the Premier League, unable to field a squad.
Arteta had complained about the scheduling of matches against Liverpool and Chelsea. However, Conte had sent a barrage of criticism the Spaniard’s way in response after Arsenal’s derby suspension.
“Yeah, but I only want Arteta to remember the game postponed. Tottenham – Arsenal, okay? If we speak about unfair. I stop,” Conte said in a press conference when asked about the scheduling.
“But in general, I think my answer is enough. Okay, yeah, it’s enough. If someone wants to speak about fair or unfair. We postponed the game, Tottenham-Arsenal, if you remember. I don’t. I don’t forget this, and I think that it’s not right to speak about fair or unfair.”
Arteta later refused to be drawn into a war of words and stated he only gave his own opinion and didn’t speak about other managers’. A composed response and hopeful one which is emulated by his side when they make the short trip across north London later this season. It is sure to be a belter.