After watching his side fall at home to struggling Swansea City on Wednesday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is failing the club as perceived by a large section of the Gunners’ supporters especially with arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur lying in wait at White Hart Lane.
While matches between the North London rivals are always tense with highly-charged atmosphere, Saturday’s Premier League show down at White Hart Lane has a bit more spice because both are heavily involved in the title race and both lost ground on leaders Leicester City on Wednesday with defeats.
Both teams have the perfect opportunity to bounce back immediately from the disappointing midweek defeats when they meet in the most significant North London derby for years at White Hart Lane on Saturday and most Arsenal fans will hope that Wenger and his team can return to winning ways at a ground they will face plenty of hostilities.
Should the Arsenal boss continue the slide at White Hart Lane then there will be the strongest case yet to part ways with the Frenchman who has been in charge since 1996. This is the season for Arsenal to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2004 following a poor start to the season for the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.
If they don’t achieve it, which is looking increasingly likely, then Wenger will be to be blamed and should be made to face the consequences which in my opinion should be being shown the exit door. Losing to a make-shift Manchester United last Sunday felt like rock bottom, but Wednesday’s home defeat to Swansea was an entirely new low.
A defeat in Saturday’s North London derby to Spurs would all but end their fading title hopes while further eroding Wenger’s legacy at Arsenal.
Leicester, who drew 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday and play at Watford on Saturday, lead the table with 57 points with Spurs second on 54, Arsenal third on 51 and Manchester City fourth on 47 with a game in hand.
Spurs’ six-match winning league run ended in a 1-0 defeat at West Ham United while Arsenal suffered a second successive league loss, and a third in all competitions, surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by relegation-threatened Swansea City.
The Arsenal manager who has overseen three successive defeats including last week’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona admits to being worried.
“The players are very down but we have to respond. We have to focus on our job and remind ourselves that we have some quality as well.”
While Wenger remains the man to be blamed for the Emirates outfit misfortunes, some of the key players haven’t come through for the club in recent fixtures. Alexis Sanchez has struggled since returning from injury while injury to Santi Cazorla has saddled Mesut Ozil with the sole responsibility of creating something positive in difficult situations for the Gunners –a responsibility the German has struggled with in recent weeks.
Arsenal have scored in 33 of the last 34 PL North London derbies. They only failed to score in that period in the 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane on 8 February 2009.
Tottenham Hotspur have lost only one of their last seven PL home matches against Arsenal (W4-D2), the 1-0 defeat on 16 March 2014 (goal by Tomáš Rosický). All four of Spurs’ victories in these last seven PL meetings at White Hart Lane were by a 2-1 scoreline.
There have been 133 goals in this fixture (home/away) in the PL. Only PL matches between Liverpool/Spurs and Liverpool/Newcastle United (both 134) have produced more.
In the reverse fixture this season, it finished 1-1 on 8 November. Kieran Gibbs (77′) scored for Arsenal after Harry Kane (32′) had given Spurs the lead.
These teams have already met at White Hart Lane this season, in the League Cup third round on 23 September. Arsenal won 2-1 with a Mathieu Flamini double (Calum Chambers own goal for Spurs).
Arsenal could beat Spurs at White Hart Lane more than once in the same season for the first time since 1986/87, when the Gunners won 2-1 three times at the home of their North London rivals, once in the league and twice in the League Cup (semifinal second leg and semifinal replay).