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The first North London Derby of the season takes place on Saturday and it could be bigger and better than ever. Last season’s clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had huge consequences late on in the season, with Spurs taking momentum from their win three games before the end of the campaign to beat Arsenal to the fourth Champions League spot.
This year, with the first clash of the two north London heavyweights clashes taking place at the Emirates Stadium, there is potentially more at stake. Arsenal sit top of the Premier League table after seven games and host their north London rivals just one point and two places below them in third in the standings.
It is a clash that could determine who is better placed to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title this season. Both sides will need to keep pace with Pep Guardiola’s men for as long as possible if they are to be serious challengers this season.
There will be plenty of interest in the match, with the game kicking off at 12.30pm on Saturday. Tottenham know a win will take them above their north London rivals and to the top of the table, while Arsenal know they can put a bit of daylight between them and Spurs with three points.
And there will also be keen eyes on the man in the middle to take hold of what is always a feisty derby day. Rob Holding was sent off in last season’s clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after two yellow cards on Son Heung-min. That certainly gave Spurs the edge as they ran out 3-0 winners.
On Saturday, Anthony Taylor will be the man in the middle and he has already courted controversy in a Tottenham match this season. The Manchester referee had the whistle for the clash between Chelsea and Spurs at Stamford Bridge – a contest that ended 2-2 with both managers being sent off after the final whistle.
That touchline fracas came down to a few choice calls by Taylor. He adjudged Rodrigo Bentancur to have won the ball in a sliding challenge with Kai Havertz before Tottenham went on to score their first equaliser – a decision that angered then Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.
Then, in the dying embers of the game, Cristian Romero pulled Marc Cucurella to the ground by his hair in the box at a Spurs corner. Taylor did nothing, the VAR did nothing and from the corner, deep in injury-time, Harry Kane equalised once more.
Arsenal vs Tottenham will be Taylor’s third London derby this season, having overseen Crystal Palace against the Gunners on the opening night of the season. Arsenal will be hoping for a bit more control than was seen at Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign.