With an international break on the horizon, this is the last opportunity for a couple of weeks for fantasy football manager to get some significant points on the board.

It's been a tricky season for predictions so far as well, making it a bit hazardous for picking fantasy teams, with home advantage seemingly going out of the window.

While there were five home wins on matchday two, matchday three produced just two of them.

Even just a single player change can have a massive points swing in fantasy football, so ahead of the weekend action, take a look at our Opta-powered picks – they might just give you the advantage in your league.

KARL DARLOW

With Burnley visiting St James' Park this weekend, Newcastle United fans might just fancy their chances of a clean sheet.

Given Karl Darlow's start to the season, you can see why. He has made more saves (18) than any other goalkeeper, while he also boasts the best saves per 90 minutes average (six).

Only Emiliano Martinez has a better save percentage (100 per cent) than Darlow (81 per cent) – but the Argentinian has played just one game. Burnley have only scored twice this term, so Newcastle will surely be confident.

 

ANDY ROBERTSON

Liverpool's left-back needs little introduction – over the past few years he will have certainly been among the most popular players in fantasy football given he is routinely part of a good defence but also impacts the game in attack.

He is in one of the most impressive periods of his career as well. He has had a hand in seven goals in his past eight Premier League games for the Reds (two goals, five assists).

Since the 2019-20 season restarted in June, he has six assists in total – that's more than any other player in the division, but Sunday's hosts Aston Villa are yet to concede a goal this term.

TIMOTHY CASTAGNE

Wing-backs are always a popular choice in fantasy football as they are often a great bet for attacking and defensive points – Timothy Castagne encapsulates that.

In three Premier League games since joining from Atalanta, he already has a goal and two assists (the same amounts he managed in all of 2019-20) – that makes him the most productive defender this season.

Leicester have won all three of their matches and host West Ham next. The Hammers showed they are not to be underestimated against Wolves, though the Foxes will expect to have too much for them.

 

WILFRIED ZAHA

If ever you consider sticking Wilfried Zaha in your team, history suggests it should be before games against Chelsea.

With three goals and three assists in 12 games against the Blues, they are his favoured opposition in the Premier League along with Leicester.

It's also worth considering that Chelsea have been shaky defensively so far, conceding six times in three matches.

SADIO MANE

Expensive he may well be, but if you have Sadio Mane in your team, there's always a strong chance you're going to rake in a few points.

He's already got three in as many games this term, while the stats show that he loves playing against Aston Villa, scoring six times and setting up another two in just six meetings with them.

Southampton fans in particular might remember three of those goals, as they came in a spell of just two minutes and 56 seconds in May 2015, and that remains the Premier League's quickest hat-trick.

 

CHE ADAMS

Danny Ings isn't the only Southampton striker in good form – Che Adams is worth a look given his recent output.

In his past five Premier League games, Adams has scored three times and got an assist. Overall, that's one more goal involvement in his previous 28 top-flight games.

Saints host West Brom next, the leakiest defence in the league, so introducing Adams – a low-cost option for the time being – could be a masterstroke.

 

ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE

Predicting Mikel Arteta's choices in attack have proven a little difficult since he took over from Unai Emery. Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah have both been used as that focal point, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also lining up.

But Lacazette is in particularly fine fettle this season, the Frenchman having scored in all three of Arsenal's Premier League matches.

On top of that, he has been involved in six goals (four scored, two set up) in his past seven home matches in the competition. Sheffield United are up next, and given their struggles in recent weeks, Lacazette looks a solid option.

Diogo Jota scored on his Premier League debut for Liverpool after Andy Robertson had earlier made amends for a big error as the champions recorded a 3-1 comeback victory over Arsenal at Anfield.

The Gunners had defeated Liverpool twice over the past two months and, like their hosts, entered this fixture with a perfect start, but Mikel Arteta's men were unable to build on a lead gifted to them by Robertson 25 minutes in.

The left-back inadvertently set up Alexandre Lacazette to score for the visitors completely against the run of play, only for Sadio Mane to equalise 147 seconds later.

Robertson then completed the swift turnaround by putting Liverpool in front before substitute Jota sealed things late on as Jurgen Klopp's side continued their promising start to their title defence.

Arsenal are yet to begin contract talks with Alexandre Lacazette, manager Mikel Arteta confirmed.

Lacazette is contracted at the Premier League club until 2022, but there has been speculation over the forward's future.

The Frenchman scored his 50th goal for Arsenal during Saturday's 2-1 win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium.

But there have been no talks for the 29-year-old to renew his deal at Arsenal, Arteta later confirmed.

"At the moment, we haven't started any negotiations," he said.

"We have a lot of things still to do in this market and at the moment we are focusing on those things."

Arteta said he was pleased with Lacazette, who arrived at the club from Lyon in 2017.

"He's a player I'm really happy with. I think we've shown him a lot of faith since I arrived here," he said.

"But we cannot start any speculation. We know that any player who is under two years of their contract is always going to be talked about."

Eddie Nketiah said "it's all love" between him and Dani Ceballos after they combined for Arsenal's winner against West Ham a week on from their bust-up at Fulham. 

The pair were involved in a shoving match ahead of kick-off at Craven Cottage on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season and had to be separated. 

Ceballos posted a photo of the duo on Instagram after the game and ensured there were "no problems" between him and Nketiah. 

They proved just that when Ceballos squared for substitute Nketiah to tap in an 85th-minute winner in a 2-1 triumph over the Hammers at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. 

"It was a bit of a coming together, I was a bit upset with the challenge he put in and obviously the reaction was there," Nketiah said of his altercation with Ceballos to Sky Sports. 

"We made up quickly and he apologised quickly and got on with it, that's what happens in life. It was nice of him to make the assist for me today, so it's all love now. 

"I think it was a great pass across, good vision from him, and I just tried to stay onside and make sure I was behind the ball, so it was a pretty easy finish from there. It was a great ball from Dani. 

"That's all I want to do, just keep trying to help the team and improve as a player. To come on and get the winner is a great feeling. I'm delighted with the three points."

Nketiah had only been on the pitch for eight minutes after replacing Alexandre Lacazette, who scored the opening goal – his 50th for the Gunners in all competitions. 

Michail Antonio equalised before half-time and hit the crossbar with a header as West Ham made a strong start to the second half, but Nketiah secured all three points. 

Mikel Arteta was pleased to see Arsenal grind out the result, a further sign of improvement for the Spaniard.

"I am really happy with the three points, but we have a lot to analyse because there were a lot of issues we created for ourselves in many moments. We have to improve many things," said Arteta. 

"Yes [we got away with one], but we created many chances to win the game and we conceded too many chances that were our fault.

"What I liked was the approach from the boys, they lifted up in the final 25 minutes, and a few months ago we would have drawn or lost that game.

"In the end you have to find a way because we are going to have games like this through the season."

Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to score a late winner as Arsenal edged past West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. 

The Gunners looked destined to labour to a draw in their first home game of the season until Nketiah slotted home Dani Ceballos' pass with five minutes remaining. 

Nketiah had only come on in the 77th minute for Alexandre Lacazette, who had opened the scoring in the first half with his 50th goal for Arsenal in all competitions. 

Michail Antonio equalised before half-time and also rattled the crossbar with a header before Nketiah popped up to consign the Hammers to a second successive defeat to start the campaign.

Outcast midfielder Matteo Guendouzi is back in Mikel Arteta's plans after holding "really positive conversations" with the Arsenal first-team manager ahead of the new campaign.

Guendouzi fell out of favour after Arteta's arrival in December and has not featured in the squad at all since an altercation with Neal Maupay in June's 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion.

However, he returned to first-team training this week and Arteta has opened the door for the France Under-21 international to play more of a part this coming season.

"Matteo has been training like any other player in the squad," he said at a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League opener against Fulham.

"Obviously it's a new season - time is over. We had some really positive conversations with both parties, and now he's back with the group and training really well. 

"He went to France to play with Under-21s last week, played well again, and now he's here."

Arsenal are in the market for a new central midfielder, with Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar of Lyon rumoured to be high on their wish list.

Lyon director Juninho suggested this week they rejected the chance to discuss a deal for Guendouzi, who may have been used in a player-plus-cash move for Aouar.

But Arteta, who has already added Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian to his squad during the close season, was unwilling to discuss his transfer business further.

"I don't know about this. I'm not going to discuss here things that happen internally," he said. "But a lot of things they have been writing I can say they are not true."

Probed on whether Aouar remains a target ahead of the October 5 deadline, Arteta added: "I don't want to talk about players at other football clubs."

Alexandre Lacazette is another player who has been touted as a possible makeweight in a deal for Thomas, but Arteta insisted the forward is not seeking a move away.

"He is really happy here and wants to keep contributing to the team," the Spaniard said. "He knows about the competition he has with the front players. 

"The way he has been training and conducting himself has been excellent. Yes, he is very happy here."

Real Madrid are prepared to pay to see Gareth Bale exit, while Manchester United have reportedly made progress in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho.

Bale has found himself on the outer in Madrid and has constantly been linked with a move despite being contracted until 2022.

The Welshman's huge salary is reportedly making it hard for the LaLiga champions to move him on, but they may be prepared to pay to see Bale exit.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WILLING TO PAY HALF OF BALE'S WAGES

Real Madrid would pay half of Bale's salary to see him make a move, according to The Telegraph.

Bale has been linked with a return to the Premier League, with former club Tottenham reportedly interested.

The latest news could pave the way for Bale to finally leave Madrid after seven years at the club.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United look to have made some progress in their Sancho chase. ESPN reports the Premier League giants have made progress around wages and agent fees, but still need to find a deal with Borussia Dortmund.

- Houssem Aouar is linked with a move from Lyon, with a switch to the Premier League mooted. The Mirror says Arsenal are keen on the midfielder, who is believed to be a target for Manchester City.

- Barcelona are reportedly facing a dilemma. Mundo Deportivo reports the LaLiga giants are weighing up whether to rely on 17-year-old Ansu Fati or sign Lyon star Memphis Depay ahead of 2020-21.

- There seems to be uncertainty over Alexandre Lacazette's future at Arsenal. ESPN claims the forward is seeking clarification over his role at the Premier League club.

- Stephan El Shaarawy could be set for a return to Europe. Telefoot says Paris Saint-Germain are in contact with the Shanghai Shenhua forward's agents and Juventus, former club Roma and Atletico Madrid are also interested.

- While Watford were relegated from the Premier League, Troy Deeney could yet remain in the top flight. The Daily Mail says the forward is set to leave the club to join a Premier League side.

Lyon sporting director Juninho said Pep Guardiola "likes" Houssem Aouar amid links to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Aouar has reportedly emerged as a target for Guardiola's Premier League giants City and Ligue 1 champions PSG following his exploits for Lyon.

The 22-year-old French midfielder – also linked to the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal – played a key role in Lyon's memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019-20.

Asked about Aouar's future and interest from PSG and City, Juninho told RMC Sport: "I think that has been happening directly with agents. We were not directly contacted. Maybe Vincent Ponsot [director general] was contacted by Manchester City, I am not sure.

"It is like that with these two teams, two enormous teams who play to win the Champions League every year, they have the capacity for that and that makes any player dream. I don't know if Houssem is ready to change project for a big Ligue 1 team like PSG.

"For City, of course Guardiola likes the player, but is that the profile that they are looking for today? We don't know that either and we have not received any official offers."

Juninho also discussed former forward Alexandre Lacazette and rumours linking Barca defender Samuel Umtiti with a return to Lyon.

Lacazette left Lyon for Arsenal in 2017 but he has found himself playing second fiddle to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in London, while Umtiti – who departed the French club a year earlier – reportedly finds himself on the transfer table.

"In January I called Alexandre Lacazette to chat a bit with him because he was having problems at Arsenal and I said to myself, 'Why not do a loan for six months with us where you will enjoy yourself, play all the games and score the goals like you know how to? And then you go back to Arsenal or somewhere else'," Juninho said.

"But from the moment that you start looking at the level of the contract of these players, like with Juventus and Barcelona, it is not possible for us today. Today, we have to tell the truth, we cannot pay the salary for a player like Umtiti.

"We have to be honest with the supporters. But if the player is looking for a project, is willing to make an effort maybe with a longer contract, wants to come home, then I will go and get him straight away."

Chelsea have reportedly joined two Premier League rivals in a tug-of-war for sought-after centre-back Ben White.

The talented Brighton and Hove Albion defender is wanted back at Elland Road, where he spent last season on loan, but Leeds United have long been tipped to face competition from Liverpool.

Now, an unexpected new contender for his signature has emerged.

 

TOP STORY – BLUES WANT WHITE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have identified the highly rated White as a solution to their issues at the back, reports the Daily Star.

The Blues are said to be keen on the 22-year-old and will jettison Antonio Rudiger if their plan succeeds.

Rudiger struggled during the recent FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal and was overlooked for Saturday's 4-1 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, which confirmed a heavy 7-1 aggregate hiding.

Sky Sports claims Brighton have already rejected two Leeds offers for White, who has been linked to Liverpool for several months.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Star also has an update on Alexandre Lacazette, who could join Atletico Madrid in a €31.1million (£30m) move once Arsenal tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new contract.

- Manchester United are looking to sell Phil Jones after deciding against sending the defender for knee surgery, reports the Mirror.

- Ligue 1's Monaco are in talks to sign Weston McKennie from Bundesliga club Schalke, according to L'Equipe, although the United States international is also attracting Premier League interest.

- Niko Kovac's men are not the only French outfit weighing up a midfield addition. Paris Saint-Germain have been linked to Ismael Bennacer and Le 10 Sport suggests Serie A side Milan could be tempted by a big-money offer.

Alexandre Lacazette urged Arsenal to "save" their season by winning the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday.

Arsenal have endured a difficult campaign, including finishing eighth in the Premier League and bowing out in the last 32 of the Europa League.

But Lacazette believes they can rescue their season at Wembley, where Arsenal are bidding to extend their record to 14 FA Cup titles.

"We know in the league we finished in a bad position, we lost against Olympiacos early in the Europa League, so we missed a few of our targets," the forward said.

"That's why I say it would save our season."

Lacazette is one of several Arsenal players linked with a move away, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among them.

The France international hopes Aubameyang, who is out of contract next year, commits to the Premier League club.

"I think it's obvious. He scored 44 goals in the league in the last two seasons," Lacazette said.

"I think he has the record at the club [the fastest man to score 50 Premier League goals]. He is our captain as well and everyone likes him, he has the love from the fans.

"I think it's obvious Arsenal should keep him but afterwards this is a conversation between him and the club and we are not involved with this."

Lacazette also backed head coach Mikel Arteta to turn Arsenal's fortunes around, with the club having not won the Premier League since 2004.

"As players and fans we have to trust the board. They give us confidence when they signed me and it’s going to be the same in the future. I think it will be more shiny for the team," he said.

"We know the coach is clear about coming here to put Arsenal on top of the league in the UK and win lots of trophies."

Manchester United have had no problem scoring goals amid their 19-match unbeaten streak across all competitions.

However, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still desperate to sign Borussia Dortmund and England star Jadon Sancho.

And Sancho is reportedly ready to make the move to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED STEP UP SANCHO CHASE

Manchester United are close to signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho , according to The Sun.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United amid links to Liverpool , Chelsea , Bayern Munich and Real Madrid .

Despite United's ongoing battle for Champions League qualification, Sancho wants to move to Old Trafford at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus are not only in discussions with Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik as the Serie A holders look to replace Gonzalo Higuain. Calciomercato says Juve have started speaking to the entourage of Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette , who has also been linked to Atletico Madrid .

- Marca reports Manchester City are determined to sign Valencia star Ferran Torres but they are unwilling to pay over the odds. Torres has a release clause of €100million (£90m), which has deterred Real Madrid and Barcelona , though City are only prepared to spend a fixed amount of €35m (£31m).

- According to Kicker, either David Alaba decides to extend his Bayern Munich contract or he will be sold before becoming a free agent in 2021. Alaba has been linked to the likes of City and Paris Saint-Germain .

- Radio Taronja claims Atletico and Sevilla both want to sign Valencia captain Dani Parejo . The 31-year-old midfielder has reportedly been told he can leave Valencia.

- There is a total agreement for Ralf Rangnick to take over from Stefano Pioli as Milan head coach in 2020-21, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. The German will arrive on a three-year deal.

Napoli's pursuit of Lille star Victor Osimhen is proving problematic. Tipped to join Napoli, L'Equipe claims Lille are unwilling to accept Adam Ounas as part of the deal for the Nigeria forward. Now, Il Mattino says United are interested, while SportItalia and Tuttomercatoweb are among the outlets to point to Premier League champions Liverpool .

Lazio have approached Madrid to sign forward Borja Mayoral , says Sky Sport Italia. The 23-year-old has spent the past two years on loan at Levante.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is ready to leave Lazio for a new challenge, claims Tuttosport. PSG have been tipped to sign the Serbia international, while the likes of Chelsea , United , Madrid , Juve and Inter have been previously linked.

Liverpool saw their hopes of achieving a record Premier League points total extinguished at Arsenal as two errors resulted in a 2-1 loss for the champions.

The Reds needed at least a point to remain in with a chance of equalling Manchester City's 100-point haul from two seasons ago, and their hopes of reaching 102 were boosted by Sadio Mane's opener.

However, uncharacteristic gaffes from Virgil van Dijk and then goalkeeper Alisson saw the Gunners come from behind as they put Sunday's defeat to rivals Tottenham behind them.

Alexandre Lacazette equalised and Reiss Nelson scored his first Premier League goal to leave Liverpool on 93 points with just two games remaining.

There was an early warning regarding Emiliano Martinez's clearances when Roberto Firmino charged down one of his attempts and blocked the ball onto a post.

Ten minutes later, Martinez was harried again and Liverpool won the ball back from his kick, with Firmino releasing Andy Robertson to slide across for Mane, whose first-time finish gave the Reds a 20th-minute lead.

However, Arsenal quickly turned the game around following mistakes from Van Dijk and then Alisson.

First, Van Dijk, under pressure from Nelson, played a loose pass between Fabinho and Alisson, allowing Lacazette to capitalise for the equaliser.

Alisson was the next to sloppily give away possession, Lacazette again seizing upon the ball and squaring for Nelson to give the Gunners the lead prior to the interval.

Liverpool almost hit back early in the second period when Mohamed Salah, making his 150th appearance for the club, sat down David Luiz with a dummy before prodding towards goal only to see Martinez tip over the crossbar.

Jurgen Klopp called for Takumi Minamino from the bench and, after he dragged one shot wide, the Japan international felt he should have had a penalty when Kieran Tierney's pressure on him in the box went unpunished.

Salah then directed a weak header straight at Martinez, Mane fired a great opportunity wide and Trent Alexander-Arnold's deflected effort was saved as Liverpool saw their chance of becoming centurions pass them by.

 

What does it mean?

There was always a danger that Liverpool might fail to maintain their relentless pace once the season resumed, and this was the fourth time in seven games since the restart that they dropped points.

Their status as champions is, of course, already confirmed, but a record points haul is now beyond them. For Arsenal, this was an all-too-rare victory over a 'big six' club, which bodes well for the future and keeps them in the hunt for a top-six finish.

Lacazette not lacking

It is now three goals in four games for Lacazette, who has reached double figures in the Premier League in each of his three seasons in London.

His quick thinking saw him make the most of Liverpool's errors and, having looked like a spare part early in Mikel Arteta's reign, Lacazette is making himself a vital cog again.

Alisson all at sea

Van Dijk should cop the flak for the first Arsenal goal but, having just seen his team-mate make such a basic error, Alisson's blunder was even more unforgivable.

The arrival of those two in 2018 transformed Liverpool into Champions League winners, and then Premier League champions, but this was a night to forget.

What's next?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who started on the bench as one of five changes – will be expected to return to the starting line-up for Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Saturday. Liverpool will hope to complete an unbeaten Premier League season at Anfield against Chelsea next Wednesday, when they will also finally get their hands on the trophy.

For most of the year, Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter for Barcelona.

Barca are eyeing a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez, though, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have impacted their transfer plans.

However, a blockbuster move could still be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA STILL WANT TO SIGN LAUTARO

Barcelona remain keen on signing Inter star Lautaro Martinez at the end of the season, according to the front page of Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo.

Barca's interest in Martinez is well documented but a transfer has been put on hold as the LaLiga giants re-assess their plans after the Argentina forward's €111million release clause expired at the start of the month.

However, Barca head coach Quique Setien is reportedly considering three options in his pursuit to recruit Martinez.

Ousmane Dembele could be sold to raise funds or a swap deal involving Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti could be proposed to Inter, while a player plus cash offer including Junior Firpo is the third alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror says Chelsea are ready to swap goalkeepers. Unhappy with the world's most expensive keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea are ready to use the Spaniard as a makeweight in a deal to sign Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing in-demand Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, reports Tuttosport. The Hungary teenager has been heavily linked to Milan and Napoli, as well as Arsenal.

Ajax are hopeful of keeping star goalkeeper Andre Onana for one more season, claims De Telegraaf. Onana has been linked to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Barca.

- Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Napoli are confident of reaching an agreement with Lille forward Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian has been tipped to join the Serie A side, who have prepared a five-year contract worth €3.5m per season amid talk of an €80m transfer.

- While Osimhen could arrive, Napoli are set to lose Arkadiusz Milik. Calciomercato claims Italian champions Juventus are interested, while the likes of Atletico, Tottenham and Roma are also keen. Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette is an alternative for Juve, as well as Atletico.

- According to Calciomercato, Edinson Cavani has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS. A free agent since leaving PSG, Cavani is reportedly wanted by Roma.

Everton and PSG both want to sign Napoli midfielder Allan, says Calciomercato. Napoli are looking to raise funds.

Manchester City will accelerate their rebuilding plans after having their Champions League ban overturned, claims the Telegraph. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly – also linked to United, Liverpool and Real Madrid previously – is reportedly high on the list of targets, which includes Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and Atletico star Saul Niguez.

The first-half finishes produced by Alexandre Lacazette and Son Heung-min were moments of contrasting beauty in Sunday's disorientating north London derby. 

Matches behind closed doors are the not-so-new normal, but those fixtures where the sound and fury tends to be turned up the loudest – such as any encounter between Tottenham and Arsenal – seem to sit most uneasily within it. 

The scenes of bedlam among both sets of fans that would have accompanied both the Gunners' gatecrashing opener and Spurs' rapid response are easy to wistfully imagine and miss. 

Lacazette's 16th-minute strike was one of brutal, destructive power underpinned by purity of technique. When the shot careered into the top left corner, it felt like it might pull Hugo Lloris' goalposts along with it. 

Arsenal joy was short-lived, though, as Son dinked an irresistibly cute finish beyond Emiliano Martinez, the ball looping obediently into its intended target. 

These was goalscoring feats of the highest order, fit to grace any team or occasion. 

What came immediately before both goals spoke unpalatable truths to two giants of the English game with ambitions far outstripping their present standings of eighth and ninth in the Premier League table. 

Granit Xhaka was careless in possession as Arsenal attacked, trying to shake the effects of a probing Spurs start at odds with their limp efforts last time out at Bournemouth. Serge Aurier stepped in, only to blunder into midfield and allow the Switzerland international to retrieve the situation. 

Take two. Xhaka found Lacazette and Spurs were far too happy to idly watch his striking masterclass. 

Just over two minutes later and David Luiz was at the centre of a moment of high defensive farce. For once, it wasn't the accident-prone Brazilian's fault. Sead Kolasinac sent a brainless pass beyond his beleaguered colleague, who was fighting a losing battle when it came to making up ground on Son. 

Mikel Arteta reverting to a 3-4-3 led to Kolasinac's haphazard involvement on the left of a back three, while Jose Mourinho set out Spurs in an unfamiliar 4-4-2.

Those adjusted new systems were perhaps partly culpable for this looking not very much like an elite encounter. The first half was dominated by midfield players roving through chaotic expanses of space, the action devoid of structure. 

If it had unfolded amid a white-hot derby atmosphere, it might have been partly understandable. In a supporter-less setting it simply looked like two teams reverting to mid-table type. 

Those clubs existing in closer proximity to the top four have had seasons of ups and downs, dealing with their own shortcomings. Yet they do seem to have a far greater grasp of their destiny over the course of 90 minutes.

Ben Davies unleashed a long-ranger that Martinez tipped on to his crossbar before half-time, although when the Golden Boot-chasing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the same goal frame in the 59th minute it was Arsenal in the ascendancy. 

Spurs' earlier ambition had shrivelled as they shrunk closer and closer to their own goal. Arsenal are a team at the start of their journey under Arteta and briefly appeared primed to pile further misery upon Mourinho's inherited Mauricio Pochettino vintage that had turned sour. 

However, Arteta would again find out that one step forward/one step back has become hardwired into the DNA of the club he loves. Toby Alderweireld's header from Son's 81st-minute corner means Arsenal have now dropped a staggering 21 points from winning positions this season. 

The Belgium centre-back's winner also felt familiar in terms of this stage of Mourinho's career. Like when Spurs were somehow battered in a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in February, or those last defiant wheezes against big-name opponents as his Manchester United career stumbled towards a conclusion. 

Finding a way to win is an admirable trait, but how much can it galvanise when the overall direction of travel for Mourinho's Tottenham looks so unclear? Buying valuable time, but to what end? 

The team with a muddled identity but some cutting edge eventually overcame the one with a swiftly established identity but a reliably soft underbelly. 

Spurs and Arsenal is a rivalry well-matched because of their shortcomings as much as their stars. As Sunday's encounter showed, there is work to be done on either side of the north London divide.

Toby Alderweireld scored a late headed winner to secure Tottenham a 2-1 north London derby victory over Arsenal, boosting Spurs' European hopes at the expense of their visitors. 

Spurs were second best for much of the encounter and conceded first, but after equalising and then holding firm against a dominant Arsenal, Alderweireld glanced home late on to move Jose Mourinho's men above the Gunners in the table. 

While the game perhaps lacked some of the derby's usual ferocity, the first half certainly provided thrills and spills, with Alexandre Lacazette's spectacular opener and Son Heung-min's well-taken leveller both consequences of defensive mishaps. 

The contest was considerably different after the break, however, as Spurs sat back and appeared to invite pressure on. After seeing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the crossbar, the hosts clinched victory nine minutes from time, keeping them in the hunt for a European spot. 

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