Martin Keown says Tottenham will experience an Emirates Stadium no one has ever seen against Arsenal amid their recent rise.
The two sides face off in the latest edition of the north London derby on Saturday. While the clash has meant a lot locally in recent seasons, on-pitch struggles have restricted the match’s influence across the Premier League.
However, since last season, the script has been very different. Both sides fought fiercely for a top-four spot last term, with Tottenham’s 3-0 win at their ground in May a major turning point.
After that, Arsenal failed to handle the pressure and eventually settled for a fifth-placed finish.
This term, the north London duo have enjoyed strong starts. Arsenal in fact sit top under Mikel Arteta’s guidance, with Antonio Conte’s Spurs unbeaten and a point behind in third.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, former Gunners centre-back Keown warned Tottenham of the cauldron that awaits them on Saturday.
“The Spurs players will be walking into a very different Emirates this time around,” the pundit said.
“The atmosphere, the unity, I haven’t seen anything like it for a number of years – probably never seen it in that stadium, it’s now feeling like Arsenal’s home, their proper home. If they can beat Spurs, that cements it even more.”
Keown picked out summer signing Gabriel Jesus as the player who is “setting the benchmark” at Arsenal.
The four-time Premier League winner with Manchester City has scored four goals and assisted three others this season.
Keown warns Arsenal could ruin Tottenham plan
Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium last September. Back then, Nuno Espirito Santo was on a downward spiral at Spurs and would get the sack not long after.
In May, the turnaround for Tottenham was clear to see as they ground out the impressive 3-0 win over Arsenal.
And Conte’s unbeaten start has been built on his tactics of a defensively solid team ready to spring lethal counter-attacks with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Dejan Kulusevski has made it a deadly triumvirate, but amid doubts over his fitness, Richarlison could step in instead.
And Keown admitted that he is keen to see how Arteta looks to hamper Conte’s style of play to try and claim a massive win.
“I’m interested to see how Arsenal can disrupt the system that Tottenham play with, Conte is a connoisseur of this system,” Keown said. “This guy is an expert on it.
“Arteta has a different view on the game, a more artistic, expressive view of the game – one he learned at Manchester City, it’s just now whether the players are at the level to go after a Premier League.”
North London derby set to excite
It feels as if this is one of the most eagerly-anticipated north London derbies in recent seasons.
It does not top the crunch meeting in May given it is still early on in the season. Nevertheless, given how both clubs have improved over the summer and their aspirations for this term, it is a huge match.
Arsenal could inflict Tottenham’s first defeat of the season with victory. That would be a major scalp for the Gunners and Arteta, who struggled against their top-six rivals last season.
Indeed, they lost to and then beat Chelsea, while losing to Liverpool twice, for instance.
And this season, their first defeat of the campaign came against Manchester United. That is a worry for Arsenal’s record against their rivals.
For Tottenham, they are looking to continue where they left off before the international break.
They beat Leicester 6-2 after losing to Sporting in the Champions League, which may well turn out to be a wake-up call for Conte.