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Full-time Fletch on... the North London Derby

By Darren Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Battling: Arsenal's Hector Bellerin will once again go head-to-head with Tottenham's Danny Rose
Battling: Arsenal's Hector Bellerin will once again go head-to-head with Tottenham's Danny Rose

Related tags: Arsenal f.c.

With the North London Derby coming up this week, here's what has impressed me about both Arsenal and Tottenham this season.

Arsene Wenger was at pains to point out early in the season that this is the best chance he has had to win serious trophies for quite a while because he’s got a team of men. The early weeks of the season would indicate that that’s probably correct because they look a lot more solid while still having the ability to play typical Arsenal football.

I also can’t see, barring lots of injuries, how they are going to change too much, so I think we’ve got to take this Arsenal team a little bit more seriously than maybe we have done.

Must-show fixtures on BT Sport

Manchester City v Barcelona (1 November, 7.45pm)

Fenerbache v Manchester United (3 November, 6pm)

Chelsea v Everton (5 November, 5.30pm)

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (6 November, 12noon)

They’ve had one or two testing games so far that previous Arsenal teams wouldn’t have passed, such as PSG in the Champions League when they were getting battered, but were still able to see out the game and get a draw. They just look a bit more mature and like they can handle the big situations better.

The players Wenger has signed are all coming in with a certain amount of experience and character. He’s gone for slightly stronger personalities and he’s gone for slightly stronger physical players. On top of that he’s got the continued maturation as a Premier League player of Mesut Özil, who has gone to another level by adding more goals to his game.

One thing we haven’t associated with an Arsenal side of late is consistency. Now you’ve got an Arsenal team that can get something from those matches when playing badly and having an off day, which in the past they weren’t able to do. In terms of winning a league or going deep in the Champions League, that’s a key ingredient that they have been lacking for a number of seasons.

Tottenham picking up where they left off

Tottenham, meanwhile, have picked up where they left off last season. They will again be there or thereabouts in the Premier League. I think that they are one of the teams at the moment who are
genuine challengers for the title, alongside Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool.

The big difference for them this season though is that they’ve got the other players that can score goals. Last season it was Harry Kane or bust to some extent, but they have got a team this season that has goals spread around a lot more. Sometimes you need a player that surprises you and I think Son Heung-min has surprised a lot of people.

You’ve also got a Tottenham side that psychologically are not surprised to be there. They’ve been there before, the confidence is in the side and they as a squad expect to win the Premier League, whereas last season, they probably didn’t.

They have got a fantastic manager in Mauricio Pochettino. He’s been able to pick that squad up and keep the belief from last season.

As a result, you’ll see an extremely passionate North London Derby with two technically excellent sides. It is one of those derbies that very rarely lets you down. It’s not only about local pride, but the winner of the game also gets one over on their serious title rivals.

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