Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal go into their Premier League clash this afternoon needing to bounce back from disappointing defeats in their last outings.
Although a defeat at Liverpool is never a deal-breaker, the convincing way in which the Reds outplayed the Gunners for much of the game was a stark reminder that Arsenal are far from being title challengers this season.
A day later, Spurs came to the same realisation as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Newcastle, a result that sees them drop down to seventh on the table.
Today’s north London derby sees two of the top strikers in the Premiership go head-to-head, with their respective clubs needing their striking prowess upfront.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in Arsenal’s two opening matches – getting the only goal against Newcastle and his side’s second in a 2-1 win against Burnley – but drew a blank in the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
On the other side stands Harry Kane. The England captain started the season like a house on fire – grabbing two in Spurs’ 3-1 win against Aston Villa, but then failed to score in the other two matches.
However, it was not only that he failed to score that will have Spurs’ fans worried, it was the way he played and his statistics that had them yearning for the Kane of yesteryear.
Spurs had close to 80% possession against Newcastle, registered 17 shots on goal, but scored zero goals. Kane had exactly one shot on goal, waiting until injury time to take it and missed the target in the process.
His total number of touches – only 24 – was the least for all the players in the starting line-up and, from 14 passes that he attempted, four missed the target. He completed one dribble, but was twice dispossessed of the ball.
His statistics against Manchester City in the 2-2 draw were not much better, as he had one shot at goal (off target) in that match as well, and touched the ball 25 times without a single dribble.
However, being England captain with 127 Premier League goals to his credit gives him a certain stature and it is beyond doubt that he is capable of finding the net. He has warned his team-mates that they need to avoid defeat.
“A north London derby is as big as it gets. If we win that, it makes the first four games a bit brighter. But it’s not going to be an easy game so we have to make sure we’re prepared and ready for that one,” Kane said.
“As you’re seeing from Liverpool and City so far, there’s no letting up from them. I said before the start of the season that a team that can put a good run together, get momentum, maybe win for two or three months on the bounce without dropping any points; that’s what it’s going to take to challenge for the title.
“It’s a disappointing start, but there’s a long way to go,” he said.
His counterpart in the Arsenal team, Aubameyang, has not had such issues this season as Unai Emery continues to place his faith in the Gabonese international.
Against Liverpool, Emery started with Aubameyang and new signing Nicolas Pépé and, although the Gunners were beaten, it could well be that the two are again given the nod against Spurs.
With Arsenal expected to have an attacking line-up against their city rivals, Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino could well hand Jan Vertonghen his first start. The experienced defender has not yet played this season, but with Spurs needing to thwart the expected Arsenal attack, the Belgian is expected to take Davinson Sanchez’s place, especially as the Colombian was at fault for Newcastle’s goal.
Pochettino could also opt for a place in the starting line-up for Christian Eriksen, who has shown creativity when he is given a chance to play.
Today’s other match sees Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Everton.