Arterta: I am really proud of the team and the character that we showed
English Premier League side Arsenal have put together some solid form of late and manager Mikel Arteta feels that his side is gradually finding their identity as they face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday March 14.
More than local bragging rights will be at stake in this clash, with both teams scrambling to secure qualification for European football next season.
“I am really proud of the team and the character that we showed,” Arteta told the media. “The senior players are the ones who have to drive the boat forward and the young players can add something, but it can’t be the other way around.
“They have to take that leadership and be accountable when they are in the team,” said the Spanish manager.
On Tottenham’s part, they have also come through a poor spell of results, with Gareth Bale now looking capable of inspiring them to a rise up the table, and Harry Kane and Son Hueng-min starting to recapture the form they showed early in the campaign.
“I am very happy for him,” said Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho of Bale. “Very happy for the team because the team needs his talent.
“He is quiet, doesn’t speak to you (the media), watches, reads, listens or probably not, because he is from Real Madrid, probably ignores it a little bit.”
Harry Kane — the Tottenham captain and talisman who has enjoyed great success in matches against arch rivals Arsenal in the past that include a strike when the teams met earlier this season — and he will look to do so again this coming weekend.
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has blown hot and cold this season, but the challenge of playing in a North London derby will surely inspire ‘Auba’ to bring his A-Game, especially if the likes of Willian and Bukayo Saka can provide him with ammunition.
In head-to-head stats, Arsenal and Tottenham have met in 202 matches across all competitions since their first clash back in 1896. The Gunners have claimed 82 wins compared to 66 for Spurs, while 54 games have been drawn.
When the teams met earlier this season, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December 2020, Spurs claimed a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane.
Tottenham are unbeaten in their last five clashes against Arsenal across all competitions.
The two teams’ managers Arteta v Jose Mourinho both err toward a conservative approach, but the attacking firepower available to both suggests that they should loosen the reins and allow their players to express themselves. Which one will be more bold and look to take the tactical initiative?
Another battle to watch for will be David Luiz v Son Heung-min.Son’s pace, movement and impressive finishing has been a highlight for Spurs so far this season, and Arsenal’s veteran defender David Luiz will need to use all of his nous and experience to keep a lid on the Korea Republic international.
Thomas Partey v Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is a tussle of two brilliant midfielders going head-to-head in the North London derby, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg hoping to assert control through his physicality.
Arsenal will hope Ghanaian star Thomas Partey can stamp his defensive authority on the engine room and lay the platform for success.
The match is live for 18:30 (CAT) on SuperSport Premier League and SuperSport Maximo 1.