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Arsenal v Tottenham: Draws, dramas and goals in abundance

Pochettino reminds his star striker how to breathe.
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Stephen Tudor looks back at every North London derby from the Premier League era to seek out clues as to what Saturday lunchtime's capital clash might offer...

"If your team is involved this Saturday lunchtime and concedes first don’t reach for the arsenic because a strong characteristic of this fixture is its rollercoaster of fortunes."

Every fixture forges its own distinct identity through the decades and this is especially true of derby games. So by all means study the form guide ahead of Tottenham's short trip to the Emirates this Saturday but don't discount the game's recent history that can often tell us so much more.

Gunners have cleaned up their act

Unsurprisingly this is traditionally a feisty affair that keeps referees on their toes but what really stands out is how Arsenal have changed their approach in recent times leaving Spurs as the bad guys.

Since 1992, we've seen 200 yellow cards dished out, equating to exactly four per game. This figure exceeds every other 'top six' clash besides the Merseyside derby and, when broken down as a total, doles the blame out pretty evenly with 109 for Spurs and 91 for the Gunners.

When taken from the start of this century, however, Arsenal look positively angelic receiving just 57 of the 138 cautions and its clear Arsene Wenger now instructs his side to avoid the wrath of officials at all costs. Given that the controversy-magnet Mike Dean is the man in the middle this Saturday that's probably a wise move.

Incidentally there is also a healthy dose of reds running through this fixture with Spurs finding themselves a man down on six occasions, Arsenal five.


Defenders have discovered their scoring boots

In the Premier League era 16 defenders (including full-backs) have got onto the scoresheet when these teams collide, a number that is relatively high in itself. What is truly remarkable though is that, until Lauren's late penalty winner in April 2002, no defender made their mark. Since then they can't stop scoring.

Sixteen goals in 31 games is a strike-rate Harry Kane would be proud of and suggests set-pieces have over-taken individual moments of brilliance in deciding this encounter. Quite why this seems to be the case is open to debate.

Per Mertesacker is the man to watch here having scored twice in recent North London derbies. He should be a double-figure price to score first when the Anytime Goalscorer market goes up later this week.



Draws galore

It may have given us some incredible scorelines and unforgettable moments but, when all is said and done, draws are embedded into this fixture's DNA.

Since 1992, 42% of games rich in drama and incident have ended in disappointing stalemate which is an astonishing amount compared to the Manchester derby's 17%. Even the Merseyside dust-up that typically cancels the other out pales with 36%.

A spike of 0-0s in the late 90s gave way to some highly entertaining sharing of the points (most notably the bizarre 4-4 in 2008, when Spurs were 4-2 down in the 89th minute) while the trend shows no sign of abating since Mauricio Pochettino's arrival to the capital with four draws from his six games in charge.

All this tells us that the 5/2 available for neither side to win this weekend represents terrific value.

Balancing that out however is the broader circumstances: with Manchester City already amassing a considerable lead can either team afford to settle for a solitary point on this occasion?

Kings of the comeback

The awful stomach-punch of seeing your team fall behind is intensified ten-fold in derbies. All that build-up, all that nervous excitement, and now there is only a 12% chance of strolling away with the bragging rights.

Yet if your team is involved this Saturday lunchtime and concedes first don't reach for the arsenic because a strong characteristic of this fixture is its rollercoaster of fortunes. On eight occasions from 50 games the team who scored first has ended up losing while another two times have seen two goal leads whittled back to draws.

To put this into context on another 'historical' preview (featuring Manchester United and Chelsea) three modern-day reversals were flagged up as significant. Drawing first blood in this fixture is merely an advantage and certainly not game, set and match.

Harry in a hurry

Two facts will be aired in abundance ahead of kick-off each very much worthy of our attention.

The first concerns Harry Kane who, in the unlikely event of scoring a hat-trick, will become the joint record goal-scorer in this fixture. His six goals against Arsenal have all come from the previous five meetings, a remarkable streak that should have every Gooner fearing the worst.

His striving for the record books is made all the easier given that this is a game famous for producing goals by the bucket-load. It may be a derby; it may favour a draw here and there; but Arsenal v Spurs is officially the highest scoring fixture across the Premier League offering up 141 from its 50 games.

As a counterweight to this, Arsenal have managed 13 shut-outs in that period; an admirable amount when faced with Ferdinand, Sheringham, Klinsmann and Berbatov through the years. Kane though appears to be another kind of derby animal altogether.

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