EPL

The Numbers Game: Spurs hope Conte's Arsenal struggles end if his first north London derby goes ahead

By Sports Desk January 14, 2022

Antonio Conte is set to take charge of his first north London derby on Sunday.

We say "is set to" rather than "will" because there does appear to be the possibility of the game being postponed due to Arsenal's growing list of absences, with the club reportedly requesting for it to be called off.

The Gunners were without as many as nine first-team players for Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final first-leg draw with Liverpool, and Mikel Arteta intimated they have further issues as a result of that match.

But, for the moment, the game is planned to go ahead as normal and Conte will surely be eager for it to do so, with Arsenal's predicament seemingly giving him the best possible chance to right some previous wrongs…

CONTE'S ARSENAL HOODOO

When you consider how good Conte's Chelsea were, it seems quite remarkable he could have such a poor record against any team.

But during his time at Stamford Bridge, Conte won just one of eight games against the Gunners, or 12.5 per cent.

Among the clubs he has faced at least five times across his managerial career, Conte does not have a worse win rate against anyone.

Spurs can perhaps take solace in the fact they have not lost yet under the Italian in the Premier League, though if they do lose on Sunday, Conte will be the first Tottenham manager to suffer his first top-flight defeat in a north London derby since Ossie Ardiles in August 1993.

KEY MEN RELISH A DERBY

In Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Tottenham have two players with a track record of impacting north London derbies.

Son has had a hand in five goals across his previous four meetings with Arsenal (three goals, two assists), while Kane is, of course, this fixture's all-time leading scorer with 11 strikes in 16 games.

Nevertheless, Arsenal may have some confidence in keeping Kane at bay at least given he has not scored in his past two derbies – failure again will make it his worst drought in the fixture.

Further to that, Kane's record of 0.35 non-penalty expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes is bettered by as many as 15 players this season (minimum 500 minutes played) and he is under-performing that in terms of non-penalty goals (0.19 per 90 mins), suggesting he may not be the Mr. Reliable he once was.

YOUNG GUNS MADE OF THE WRIGHT STUFF?

While Arsenal's squad may have a little less derby pedigree, it would be fair to say they have a greater presence of youthful exuberance, with young players playing a prominent role for Arteta.

Arguably chief among them are Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who were both on the scoresheet when Arsenal beat Spurs 3-1 earlier this season.

No English player has scored in both north London derbies for Arsenal in the same year since, remarkably, Ian Wright in 1993-94.

Given the form of both players, there is a strong chance that run could end.

SAKA BACK ON TRACK

After dazzling at Euro 2020, some might have expected Saka to truly light up the Premier League this season. He perhaps has not quite reached that level, though his recent form has been excellent.

He has been involved in at least one goal in each of his previous five Premier League games, netting four and setting up a couple.

Should he continue that streak against Spurs – or whoever they play next if the game is postponed – he will be the youngest player in the competition's history to have a hand in a goal in six successive Premier League games.

Related items

  • 'No chance' Klopp risks Salah's fitness for Golden Boot battle with Son 'No chance' Klopp risks Salah's fitness for Golden Boot battle with Son

    Jurgen Klopp understands Mohamed Salah would be keen to play on the final day of the Premier League season and clinch the Golden Boot, but neither Liverpool nor the player are willing to take any risks with his fitness.

    Salah sustained a groin injury in Liverpool's FA Cup final win over Chelsea last weekend and missed the midweek victory at Southampton that keeps the Reds in contention for the title.

    There could yet be a double celebration for Klopp's men on Sunday, with City only one point ahead while Salah (22 goals) narrowly leads Son Heung-min (21) in the scoring charts.

    But given Liverpool also have the Champions League final against Real Madrid to consider the final week, they have to be sure Salah is fit to play.

    The winger – who has been nominated for the PFA Fans' Player of the Year, alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Conor Gallagher and Declan Rice – is not the cup winners' only injury concern either.

    Virgil van Dijk (knee) was also injured at Wembley, while Fabinho (hamstring) hobbled out of the prior match against Aston Villa. Joe Gomez, who has a history of serious injuries, had an ankle problem at Southampton.

    "Joe has good news," Klopp said ahead of Sunday's match against Wolves. "We want a reassuring further scan, but the first was like he and we thought after the game – we were lucky.

    "It was a proper knock, but nothing happened. It's the leg where he was injured, so I understand 100 per cent everyone was concerned; I was, until I saw Joe's face in the dressing room, because most of the time we know best about our body.

    "The result of this [second] scan is not here yet, but we don't expect anything really different. It's just about reassuring it's all fine.

    "And then from there, we go. If it's fine, then it's about pain: how can he deal with pain? We'll see what Joe can do today or tomorrow, but I don't know at the moment.

    "With the other boys, it looks all good. What we do with them at the weekend, I have no idea.

    "I understand 100 per cent the goalscoring battle with Son Heung-min, but there is no chance we take any risk; Mo doesn't want to take any risk, there's no doubt about that.

    "But it looks good, the boys made steps. We will see.

    "My preferred solution would be they all could play at the weekend, for rhythm reasons, stuff like this, or at least could be on the bench and we could bring them on or not. But if not, then we take it from there. I cannot say 100 per cent."

  • Gallardo: River Plate had to 'vindicate' themselves with Colo Colo demolition in Copa Libertadores Gallardo: River Plate had to 'vindicate' themselves with Colo Colo demolition in Copa Libertadores

    River Plate boss Marcelo Gallardo hailed his team's performance as they secured their path to the Copa Libertadores knockout stage, thrashing Colo Colo 4-0 on Thursday.

    Agustin Palavecino's goal just before the interval gave Los Millonarios critical momentum for the second half, with goals from Nicolas de la Cruz, David Martinez and Ezequiel Barco eventually putting them six points clear atop Group F with a game left.

    Following the weekend's shock elimination to Tigre in the Copa de la Liga Profesional, Gallardo's side ultimately dominated the Chilean league leaders, recording 28 shots to six for a cumulative xG total of 3.39 to 0.87.

    The 46-year-old coach believes it was a necessary response from his team on top of what was at stake in the group.

    "We played a very good match," Gallardo said. "I think the first half was quite even. Colo Colo are a tough team.

    "In the second half we adjusted some things, we were more precise and vertical. The result could have been even better.

    "We had to vindicate ourselves after last week's setback and the team did very well, they recovered against a strong rival. There was a great collective response, we achieved the qualification [to the last 16] and we surpassed Colo Colo by far.

    "We were in a key game, with our people, to vindicate ourselves with what was the setback last week. I think we did well, the team recovered against a very good opponent."

    In Thursday's other results in the Copa Libertadores, Deportivo Cali leapfrogged Corinthians and Boca Juniors to move to top spot in Group E, securing a 3-0 win over Always Ready, while a Hulk brace helped Atletico Mineiro defeat Independiente del Valle 3-1.

  • I don't respect you! – Everton star Richarlison takes aim at pundit and Liverpool legend Carragher I don't respect you! – Everton star Richarlison takes aim at pundit and Liverpool legend Carragher

    Richarlison told Liverpool legend and prominent pundit Jamie Carragher to "wash your mouth" and "I don't respect you" after helping Everton secure Premier League survival.

    The Toffees were in a desperate situation at half-time of Thursday's clash with Crystal Palace at Goodison Park, trailing 2-0 to goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew.

    However, Michael Keane reduced the deficit and Richarlison equalised to set up a blockbuster finish that saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin score an 85th-minute winner to ensure Frank Lampard's side staved off relegation with a game to spare.

    Ex-Liverpool defender Carragher has taken aim at Richarlison in the past, particularly over what he perceived to be play-acting in matches against Liverpool and Chelsea.

    Carragher, a former England defender, later wrote on social media that his assessment of the Brazil forward was "nothing to do with bias".

    But Richarlison clearly has not forgotten the criticism and took the opportunity to hit back at Carragher.

    He posted on Twitter: "Wash your mouth before you talk about me and Everton and I don't respect you."

    Everton round out their season with a trip to Arsenal on Sunday, with the Gunners needing a win to have any hope of beating rivals Tottenham in the race for the top four.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.