North London Derby Stars Align

by .


The excitement is starting to ramp up from this end. Reading around the web trying to absorb as much inspiration as possible before I head down to a bar at 7am to take in the Spurs game on Sunday.

Spurs form is solid, if not a little lacking in inspiration. They’re without Alderweireld at the moment and Harry Kane should be back at the weekend, but I think it’s touch and go whether you start your main man in such a mega game after a month out.

Spurs are going to be tough to break down. They have the best defensive record in the league. That coupled with them playing an outrageously high tempo pressing game could cause problems for us on Sunday.

I don’t think we’ve played anyone who can press like they do so far this season. Important to note they inflicted wounds on Manchester City when they ruffled them hard. What’s our plan for that? Cazorla through the middle might not be the best choice for this one, and unfortunately, he’s still injured. Another example of the club not paying attention to niggly injuries in players that are too old to play 3 games a week.

That leaves us with a Xhaka and what, Coquelin midfield? Both prone to a bit of craziness and Wenger is concerned.

“The discipline is important and we want to be effective in all situations we face, and in the derby it is important to keep control of your reaction and to have a strong discipline, because it is part of the effectiveness in these games.

“Normally he is a very composed and calm guy. Sometimes on the field he has a reaction that is a bit impulsive and he knows that. It is not because you talk about that. He has to work on that and keep control of his reactions in the game.”

Tbf, I love having a nutter in the side. It gives us a bit of an edge. I’m talking nutter like PV04, not Eboue reading the notes of the opposition manager or dressing like a tiger.

I mean, ideally for me, our midfield would be Aaron, Xhaka sitting deep with Ozil in the hole. I’d have Theo and Iwobi flanking Sanchez. That way, we have enough pace to deal with their pressing and counter them.

We also have enough off the bench to chase the game late on. It’ll be great to have a late Giroud in the mix to cause problems. I mean, I think we’re heading into a situation where we can call Chamberlain an asset as well, his explosive pace coupled with his form this year is enough to put any team on the back foot.

The stars are aligning through the telescope, but let’s be real here, there’s no such thing as anything aligning for a NLD. It’s November for Arsenal, so anything can happen. Spurs haven’t been scoring goals, so you know there’s a chance they’ll be 3 up after 12 minutes. They have the best defence in the league, so there’s a chance we’ll score 5. We’re expecting a mega game, so it could be a boring 0-0.

It’s all up in the air and that’s what I love about the derby.

Spurs fans are very quiet at the moment, taking on the persona of their manager… that won’t stay the same should the worst happen on Sunday. So pray for fitness and a smart game plan from the manager. Should be exciting regardless!

Finally, before I go, congratulation to Mesut and Sanchez for making the shortlist for FIFA’s 23 man Men’s Best Player trophy.

106 Responses to “North London Derby Stars Align”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Endi

    Take away the last incident which earned Xhaka a red, I would rather not classify him a hot headed buffalo yet.

    At least, not like The Coq.

  2. Charles

    Could be fiery on Sunday I predict delli Ali getting a red, proper atmosphere for once as well been very lame at the Emirates this season

  3. Mark S

    Most of the time we have an idea of how a NLD is going to pan out, but I have no idea for this one. Last year we played like crap in both games, yet we nicked draws in both. They were all over us at The Emirates, and then Gibbs of all people got the equalizer. Once that went in, we looked like we could grab a late winner. Fast forward to the game at The Lane, and we end up grabbing a 2-2 draw after going down to 10 men. Ramsey scored a cheeky back heel, we give up 2 quick goals in the second half, lose Coq somewhere in there, and then Sanchez scores a goal against the run of play that Hugo should have stopped. This year we’re in the ascendancy, and they’re coming off of some bad results. Does the game go by current form, or does it go by NLD form….as in the team that’s struggling grinds out a result? I hope we smash the bastards, and I think we can…but again…it’s a derby.

    The other thing on my mind is about Harry Kane…who is just coming back from injury…and then after this game we have another pesky international break. Do they risk him from the start, knowing that he would have a 2 week layoff if he breaks down….or do they bring him on later in the match to make an impact. If you have a player coming back from a long layoff, you want Hull at home…not Arsenal at The Emirates. I’ll go with 3-1 to the Arsenal. Don’t let me down!

  4. Mark S

    Also good to see Theo, Bellerin, and Monreal training again. I hope that all 3 can play a part in the match. It would be great to have Santi, but I think that Xhaka and Coq could do a job for this one.

  5. freddylekgunner

    “I mean, ideally for me, our midfield would be Aaron, Xhaka sitting deep with Ozil in the hole”

    Pedro this is a big NO for me, if Carzola is out I’ll rather see Coq and Xhaka or Elneny. Everyone knows Ramsey won’t sit deep even he does he’ll be losing possession to the Spuds all match.

  6. igbo Amadi-Obi

    I wouldn’t play Xhaka as a DM in place of Coq. Wenger obviously doesn’t see Xhaka as a DM. And I think Coq is better at breaking play, even if he’s not as good at initiating attacks. I also wouldn’t start Ramsey just yet. He’s a bit too ponderous, and he’s at at the physical level for Spurs yet, and Theo provides a better option on the right. Santi, Santi, Santi! Achilles at 32 two seasons in a row looks like a career ender for me. Sad.

  7. Joe

    No way coq doesn’t start. Wenger rates him highly. He started in front of xhaka all season long until he was injured. I would say he is one of the first names on the team sheet with Ozil kos and Sanchez.

    Coq has been one of our best players since he came back

    Way too unappreciated on here.

  8. raptora

    Ramsey made a horror performance, albeit providing a great cross for Giroud’s goal, on Tuesday vs Ludogorets so I would never pick him in a game where he will be under even more and more pressure. No way. Not sure if I would pick Xhaka either. I don’t really know if you guys saw it but Xhaka got away with a yellow card, instead of a red, last game – link . Seeing this tackle live at the stadium and close up replay that I can’t find right now, his foot ended up in the opponent’s thigh which is unacceptable and on another day it would have been a straight red at 2:2 and in the 67-th min. And this happens in his second game after he got sent off for 3 games. Not sure about his proffessional ethics anymore. I would be afraid to put him in a game like this and not play the dude who had time to make one touch and that touch was the best in the game probably. Plus Xhaka + Coq didn’t do well as a duo either. The egyptian would be my partner of le Coq cause he can assure us that atleast we will give them a fight but with added safety that we won’t have a man send off or we will have too many bad passes and lost balls.

    Come on you gunners!!!

  9. N5

    Thanks Joe/Louis. He’s been to Chelsea so he’s quite used to the swearing, but Tottenham is next level. I have great memories of my first one and I hope he likes it as much as I did. I know it can be quite intimidating to the uninitiated though.

    It’s one of the only times the library comes to life.

  10. Mo

    Elneny rarely gives the ball away and I think that’s going to be important given how hard they press and how quickly they get forward. I would not risk Ramsey in the middle right now, he’ll get caught in possession over and over again.

  11. Pedro

    Kelvin, Xhaka is a far better player than Coq and so is Ramsey.

    Why would you play a defensive midfielder who is poor on the ball against one of the best pressing teams in the Premier League?

  12. Joe


    Because he is a defensive midfielder.

    Ramsey has been bang average for years. No way does he deserve to start over coq

    Coq should be one of the first names on the sheet for Sunday

  13. Pedro

    Xhaka is also a defensive midfielder and far better on the ball and distributing it which suits our system better.

    Ramsey lit up Euro 2016. Great player.

  14. Joe


    How did Ramsey do when they faced a good team in the Euro’s? He was non-exsistant

    If you think Ramsey has been anything more than crap/bang average over the last few seasons, you’re dreaming

  15. Leftsidesanch

    Xhaka/Elneny or Xhaka/Coq or Coq/Elneny for me.

    Gotta disagree with Mark, we had the better of the play at WHL right up until Coq made life difficult for us.

    Not taking their recent form (which is quite blown out of proportion) as comfort. This will be a tough game but I think we’re better equipped to deal with teams who play like Spurs this year.

  16. Leftsidesanch

    We need a plan for Wanyama who always plays well v us. Dembele and toby could potentially be big misses for them. Expecting Harry Kane to start also despite the postering this week.

  17. jwl

    Important to have a nutter or two in starting eleven who have defensive duties, they willing to do whatever it takes to stop opposing team. Defenders are prone to rush of blood to head, they just have to learn how to control it, and I am not worried about Xhaka yet because he in new league, take time to adapt.

  18. Joe


    He brings nothing to Arsenal.

    Sorry. You have your blinkers on with Ramsey He’s been terrible for Arsenal bar his little purple patch , what 4 years ago??

    8 vs England. I said good teams Pedro. England are not a good team

  19. Pedro

    haha! Just covering all bases Karim!

    I mean, I guess Joe is furious Rambo didn’t show up for a game he was suspended for… which is weird analysis.

  20. Pedro

    So Joe, the answer to your question is:

    He didn’t turn up against Portugal because he was suspended.

    He’s not a terrible player, i think that’s you with your blinkers on.

  21. karim

    I’ve always rated Ramsey to be fair, but I’m still waiting for him to grow up and understand that he needs to stop with the fancy aspects of his game, he’s wasted enough time and we’re not playing for fourth this year.

  22. Joe


    What has he brought to Arsenal when he plays?

    People think wellbeck is a good player too because he runs around a lot

    You English sure love an industrious player wether he actually contributes to the match or not

  23. gonsterous


    Ramsey is good but terribly out of form and the way he played for us before the world cup was just disrespectful. He can come off the bench to try a few flicks but I would use xhaka elneny on Sunday !!


    Your boy is in for a treat 🙂

  24. bacaryisgod

    Reading between the lines, it looks like we’ll have Monreal, Walcott and Bellerin available but not Santi. We already know that an Elneny-Coq partnership is not ideal if we’re looking to break down a tight defence and that Ramsey will leave his central midfield partner exposed on the counter-attack.

    Despite the risk, I think Arsene will go with the Xhaka-Coquelin combination behind Ozil. Iwobi has looked a little jaded recently but with a week’s rest he should return on the left with Theo back on the right.

    Here’s my prediction for our line-up:

    Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
    Coquelin Xhaka
    Walcott Ozil Iwobi

  25. tom

    I rate Ramsey highly but concede he has been a little inconsistent which, I believe, is mostly due to frequent battles with injuries .

    He provides energy and flare and a forward impetus.

    He is not afraid to take risks and that has the potential to expose him, but it can also win you games.

    Also he has a knack for attacking the box and scoring.

    On his best day he’s a technical Bryan Robson.

  26. vicky

    If Santi is not fit for Spurs game, I would prefer Coq-Xhaka partnership to any other combo. Hopefully Wenger wouldn’t touch Ramsey with a barge pole, his inclusion would be akin to giving away the match. Xhaka-Elneny is one of my favorite combos but none of them is a good tackler, got to have Coq in the starting 11.

  27. bacaryisgod

    Pedro-I think Ramsey is a strong player but against a Spurs team that will look to press and counter, I fear that he’ll go on a walkabout too much if he’s in the Cazorla role next to either Coquelin or Xhaka. The big negative when he played at CM was that we were more vulnerable defensively and that will play into Tottenham’s hands.

    He excelled at the Euro’s in the Ozil position where his non-stop running and creativity worked well alongside Bale. There were a couple of games last season where he did show more discipline but playing him deeper prevents him from doing what he does best.

    Added to the above, he’s only a couple of games back from injury and played on Tuesday so having him on the bench and bringing him on for Xhaka or Coquelin if we need a goal or for Iwobi or Walcott if we need to protect a lead makes the most sense to me.

  28. bacaryisgod

    Agreed Vicky- I think Coquelin’s a little underrated when it comes to possession too. He’s never going to dribble past three players but can get out of tight spots and is key to our ability to hit teams on the break.

    Just look at this masterclass against Ludogorets.

  29. Joe

    2012–13 36 1 3 0 1 0 7 1 – 47 2
    2013–14 23 10 2 1 1 0 8 5 – 34 16
    2014–15 29 6 4 00 7 3 1 1 41 10
    2015–16 31 5

  30. Wallace

    two from Xhaka, Coquelin & Elneny for me. wouldn’t even consider Ramsey for the central spots. if our passing’s good and quick I think we’ll take them, but i’m expecting a fiercly contested, tight game.

  31. ArseneisaFraud

    Looking forward to the NLD. A game that will definitively test our mettle. I am very curious to see how this game will pan out as it really depends on who Wenger selects. It would de great to see Xhaka show us what he can do.

    Re. Ramsey. I just think he needs to do something like Theo. Hire a personal trainer who can tell him to cut out his Hollywood tricks and stick with the basics.

  32. Joe

    Hire a personal trainer who can tell him to cut out his Hollywood tricks and stick with the basics.

    That should be wenger. He would probably be brilliant under a different manager.

    As Pedro said , he was great in the euros under a different manager

  33. HillWood

    My first NLD was mid 70s with my Dad at Spurs.
    All I remember was the crowd trouble lasting most of the game.
    Bad old days

  34. Wonderwoman

    Have Xhaka and Ramsey even played ONE game together? So you’d like them to start forming a partnership against the spuds? Ramsey just back from injury against a high presning team… I hope Ramsey doesn’t start coq should play based on form.

  35. Pires7


    You should never post on the blog again.

    Let’s put it this way. They’re better players than you are poster.

  36. Roaaary

    Ramsey was unbelievable at the euros. He was disciplined and obviously told to hold back.

    For arsenal I find he gets dran upfield and stands in line with the forwards without breaking the defence. He’s a bit of a waste. I love him but he needs close coaching as others have said.

    I think the NLD is too big a game to risk him and a coq xhaka middle offers bite, positional awareness and agility to break the press.

  37. Do one gambon

    Xhakas gotta play. If spuds want to press high then good for them.. Xhaka can just ping it into the gaps they’ll leave behind. El neny is probably best available to play with him due to his superior passing ability to coquelin. Ramsey a no no from the start his tendancy to slow down play won’t help if were being pressed high, he’ll just get caught in possession

  38. Bamford10


    I have been critical of Coquelin’s limitations from day one, but there is simply no question that he has improved his game, that he has been excellent for us and that he should start on Sunday. No question.

    Ramsey, on the other hand, is suspect on a number of levels, and Xhaka has his question marks.

    Coquelin should start. No question.

  39. tunnygriffboy

    Mr Pessimism atm

    We are on a very good run. Tottenham struggling to find rhythm and score goals = Tottenham win

    Man u all over the place v Arsenal on a good run = man u win

    It’s always the same. We ‘re playing pretty well, especially as an attacking force we should win the game yet we mess it up.

    We are starting to get some praise from the media. It’s never a good thing, it goes to our head we become complacent and stop doing the basics well

    We’ll have to tighten our defence for the next few cames. Coquelin needs to be really disciplined and sit infront of our back four. He’s been getting ahead of the ball and leaving our CBs exposed. We got away with it v Swansea and Ludogrets just about. Better teams may hurt us.

    Santi, Santi, Santi, wherefore art though Santi? Anyone know how long he’ll be out ? Xhaka to start in his place. Giroud, Ramsey, Elneny and Ox good options off the bench.

  40. grooveydaddy


    I share your pessimism. I’m fully expecting draws and dropped points, if not outright losses…

    On the flip side, we haven’t beaten tottenham in over 2 years in the league, and 1 win out of 6 against pretty average Moyes and LVG sides, (not to mention never beating Mourinho) so we’re due on both counts.

    Let’s see what happens…

    Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.

  41. Batistuta

    Plssssss no Ramsey tommorow,don’t even have the strength to argue the disadvantages of having him from the start

  42. Batistuta

    Oh and Pedro and fixation on coquelin not being able to handle himself in high press matches is now just a lil bit weird

  43. tunnygriffboy

    Keep Giroud, Ramsey and Ox on the bench. Great attacking options to come on if needed.

    I’ve got time for all of them and they’ll play an important role this season. Just not ready for this match.

    Very pleased Low is giving Ozil a rest. He needs it. Wish Alexis could have a rest. That early Saturday ko v man u is a nightmare for Alexis. We really need him fresh and available but that won’t be the case.

  44. Pires7

    ‘Diego Costa in the Premier League:
    64 apps. 40 goals. ONE penalty. Thousands of haters.’

    No disputes he’s a very good player. He’s just a massive twat probably the biggest in the PL.

  45. wenker-wanger

    The performance of our defense is the crucial issue with us getting a victory. We can score against spurs, 2 or more I’m sure. So a tight defense will see us through. Quick mention of the best player I’ve seen this season, eden hazard. Astonishing control at full speed dribbling.