Preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • The previous six games has seen a total of 31 goals
  • Spurs have won just once at Arsenal since the inaugural 1992-93 Premier League season
  • Arsenal haven’t loss their opening two home league game since1949-50

This game, this derby, this season… it has a whole lot of extra spice to it. In North London on Sunday everything will come to a standstill as Arsenal and Tottenham (11am ET, watch live on NBCSN and via NBC Sports Live Extra) face off at the Emirates Stadium.

With Gareth Bale’s transfer saga coming to a close, all the talk this week has been about Tottenham’s seven new arrivals as they’ve spent over $140 million on the likes of Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and Paulinho. While Arsenal fans can only dream about such reinforcements as Arsene Wenger’s squad looks incredibly thin.

The one respite over recent weeks, despite all the missed opportunities in the transfer market, has been Arsenal’s qualification for the Champions League group stage for the 16th straight season.

The North London derby is an incredibly passionate event where both sets of supporters come together to create a crescendo of noise. These two teams are closer now than they’ve ever been this season, so expect the volume to be cranked up even higher.

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Can Spurs’ new signings make Bale a distant memory?

With the Gunners promising to spend big in the final days of the transfer window, a defeat to their bitter rivals may force the directors hands to dig even deeper into their pockets. Arsenal’s diehard fans want some more attacking talent to arrive and top of that list is Real Madrid trio Angel Di Maria, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil. But after Arsenal’s 3-1 win away at Fulham, the signs are that players such as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud will come good this season.

Yet for Tottenham their star player Bale is set to seal his switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid before the deadline on Monday. But it’s said that Spurs are dragging their heels in order to not let Arsenal buy one, or all three, of Madrid’s attackers who will be put out of the lineup as the Welshman arrives. Another extra storyline adding to the rigmarole of this tense clash.

This season so far has seen Spurs start off with two 1-0 wins against Crystal Palace and Swansea. Arsenal lost to Aston Villa 3-1 in a shock opening day defeat but bounced back against Fulham. Injury wise, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta are sidelined for Arsenal. For Tottenham Aaron Lennon is doubtful, while Emmanuel Adebayor and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are also missing.

You don’t want to miss this one, as North London’s finest collide in a pivotal early season battle.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger on Tottenham losing Bale and Spurs’ rebuild: “It has a negative impact when you lose your best players, always. Because you are perceived by your fans as having a lack of ambition. The rest of the squad loses strength in their team. We have gone through that process consistently and it always demands a mental adjustment to keep your ambition alive. It’s very difficult. There is a technical risk when you buy more than three players. Because you unbalance the stability of your squad a little bit. “It’s always difficult when you bring so many players in to predict how well they will do. You have to integrate more, your squad is always a balance, and there’s a bit more risk. It can work as well. It can click fantastically well. But there is a little risk in the stability of the squad and the technical consistency.”

Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna on rivalry: “As I have said before, we can beat anyone. We have very talented players who are young and motivated. This game is one of the highlights of the season because it is a derby – we know how important it is for the fans, the club and the players to win it. The atmosphere is just magic and it will be even more magic if we win on Sunday.”

Andre Villas-Boas on Tottenham’s : “We have the quality to go there and win. I think we will set up to try to win the game and hopefully achieve the result we want. Yes. It is a different type of proposition on Sunday but it has special ingredients of a game that is unique in English football and full of emotion.Hopefully, if we set up properly, the match for sure will be a great game, because both teams want to play, want to win, want to attack, and hopefully it can be a present for the fans.”

Prediction

This is an incredibly tough game to call, I mean both teams are so desperate to not lose that it could be a stalemate. Then again Arsenal have won the last two meetings 5-2 at the Emirates and it should be a cracking atmosphere at the Emirates. Tottenham’s new-look team have been solid yet unspectacular, while the Gunners have been written off again this season. I expect an Arsenal backlash and a crucial home win to get Arsenal one step ahead of their rivals.

Premier League stats of the season — Opta

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With the 2016-17 Premier League season officially complete, a look at some of the compelling, shocking and record-breaking stats, from August to May — all stats courtesy of the good folks at Opta:

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

30 — Chelsea (30 wins) have broken the PL record for most wins in a season (previously 29, by Chelsea in 2004-05, and 2005-06)

457 — Only Chelsea (457 minutes) were in a losing position in PL matches for less time than Liverpool (471 mins) this season

114 — Chelsea used all three substitutes in every Premier League game this season (114 in total) – they are only the second team to do this in a 38-game Premier League season (Manchester City, in 2014-15)

230 — Michy Batshuayi’s title-winning goal for Chelsea at West Bromwich Albion was his first PL shot on target since Sept. 24th, 2016 (230 days), and only his third overall in the competition

3,420 — Cesar Azpilicueta became the fourth outfield player in PL history to play every minute of a title-winning season (after Gary Pallister, in 1992-93; John Terry, in 2014-15; and Wes Morgan, in 2015-16)

1 — Because of their opening day victory against Leicester City, Hull City spent one more day on top of the PL than Tottenham Hotspur did in 2016-17 (0)

86 — 11 previous PL champions have won the title with a point tally equal to or less than Tottenham’s 86-point tally in 2016-17

+60 — Tottenham Hotspur’s goal difference of +60 is the highest in PL history for a non-title winning side

3 — Tottenham were the only club in England’s top four tiers to see as many as three players score 20+ goals for them in all competitions this season (Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min)

6 — Harry Kane now has six PL hat-tricks for Spurs, twice as many as any other player for the club (Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe, both with 3)

0 — Liverpool were unbeaten in the PL against the top seven teams this season (12 played: 7 won, 5 drawn, 0 lost) but their record against the other 13 sides was (26 played: 15 won, 5 drawn, 6 lost)

38 — Both Arsenal and Manchester United have finished outside of the top four of the top-flight for the first time since 1978-79 (38 years)

600 — Manchester United became the first team to win 600 PL matches (962 played: 604 won, 209 drawn, 149 lost)

2,000 — Manchester United also became the first team to win 2000 points in the PL, with victory over Watford in February

11 — 11 different English players made 20+ PL appearances for Bournemouth this season. The last PL team to do this was Aston Villa, in 2000-01 (also 11 players)

48.8% — West Bromwich Albion scored a league-high proportion of their goals from set-piece situations this season (48.8%). They also conceded the lowest proportion from set-pieces (21.6%)

70 — Swansea City conceded 70 goals in the PL this season. Only two teams have conceded more in a 38-game PL season and survived relegation (Wigan, in 2009-10 — 79, and West Bromwich Albion in 2010-11 — 71)

13 — Hull City gave away 13 penalties this season, the most of any side in a single PL campaign

Men in Blazers podcast: “The Blazers” awards, plus John Terry’s farewell

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Rog and Davo recap the race for Top Four, John Terry‘s farewell at Chelsea and another Harry Kane hat trick. Plus, they roll out the red carpet for the 2016-17 end-of-season awards, “The Blazers.”

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“Three trophies and CL”: Mourinho relieved after “most difficult season”

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Don’t try to tell Jose Mourinho that his first season at Manchester United wasn’t a raging success, because all you’d get in return is a simple shake of the head before he walks away.

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

Following Wednesday’s Europa League final victory over Ajax, one which put Man United into next season’s UEFA Champions League, Mourinho was adamant that the club’s 2016-17 season was a success, despite the fact the Red Devils finished sixth in the Premier League.

“Three trophies in one season and the Champions League,” as Mourinho put it, in his “most difficult season as a manager” — quotes from the BBC:

“We totally deserved the win. I am so happy to see the boys with the crutches with the trophy and now I am on holiday. I don’t want to see any international friendlies, I am selfish. I can’t do it.

“For me, enough is enough. It has been a very hard last few months, we were short of numbers.

“Three trophies in one season and the Champions League. I am very happy in my most difficult season as a manager.”

[ WATCH: Pogba gives United an early lead ]

As for his summer shopping list and Wayne Rooney‘s future at the club, well… Mourinho was much clearer about one than the other — quotes from the BBC:

“Ed Woodward has my list, what I want, what I would like for more than two months. So now it’s up to him and the owners. But I don’t care about football for now.

“Wayne Rooney was ready to play, he was a big option. But I didn’t need to attack at 2-0. I told him yesterday that he could be the key man but he can perfectly be here next season. He is a very important player for us. If he stays next season I’d be very happy.”

USMNT’s Gedion Zelalem out 6-9 months with knee injury

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Following much fanfare as he rose through the ranks of Arsenal’s youth academy system, and even more after officially pledging his international allegiance to the U.S., Gedion Zelalem‘s progress stalled a fair bit this season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | U-20 World Cup ]

After failing to force his way onto the fringes of Arsenal’s first team, the 20-year-old was sent out on loan to VVV Venlo, where he made just nine league appearances (one start) in the Dutch second division. Now, with the U.S. U-20 national team at the U-20 World Cup in South Korea, his tournament is over after just 34 minutes.

Zelalen suffered ligament damage to his left knee during the first half of the Americans’ tournament-opening draw with Ecuador. The Washington Post received confirmation on Wednesday, from Zelalem’s family, confirming that he’ll be sidelined for at least six months. An earlier report, from Football.London, pinned the recovery time at up to nine months.

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

“For Gedion, this was his second U-20 World Cup, so his experience was invaluable for us,” said U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos. “His passing ability is second to none in this tournament, and we’ll miss that. He was running the team from his position.