The French pipeline at Arsenal continues to build upon itself even after Arsene Wenger has departed.
According to multiple reports across England, including The Guardian and the BBC, Arsenal is nearing a deal with Lille for winger Nicolas Pepe that would break the club’s transfer record. The reports say Pepe would Arsenal back to the tune of $89 million, smashing the previous club record of $69 million paid to secure Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 18 months ago.
The deal still has work to do, as the clubs need to agree on a payment structure with the Gunners requiring installments to complete the deal thanks to a significantly lower budget this summer, and the club must still agree to terms with the player, something Napoli has thus far failed to do despite submitting an acceptable bid.
Napoli was reportedly one of four teams that came to a financial agreement with Lille, club president Gerard Lopez confirmed on Friday, but none of them had yet stood out to the player for personal terms. However, the BBC reports that while personal terms are still to be agreed upon, Arsenal expects that to be completed as soon as the next 48 hours.
The 24-year-old Ivorian set Ligue 1 alight last season with a fabulous 22-goal haul in 38 league appearances, contributing another 11 assists on top of that. He was a big reason why the club finished second in the table behind only champions Paris Saint-Germain. Still, many consider Pepe an unfinished product, and Arsenal will be tasked with completing his development and making sure he is not a one-hit wonder, nearly doubling his previous goal total of 13 the season before.
Pepe would become the fourth signing of the summer for Arsenal, behind threee confirmed deals in Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli, and William Saliba. Cabellos is on loan from Real Madrid, while Saliba was sent back on loan to St. Etienne for the upcoming season.
There is so little between Arsenal and Tottenham this season that every little decision will count as they square off this Saturday (watch live, 7:30am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com) in the north London derby.
Who has more wins, Arsenal or Tottenham? (all competitions head-to-head)
Tottenham wins: 67
Arsenal wins: 84
—– Ramsdale —–
— White — Saliba — Gabriel — Zinchenko —
—- Partey —- Xhaka —-
—- Saka —- Odegaard —- Martinelli —-
—– Jesus —–
If Partey is out with injury then Arteta has a big decision to make in midfield: does Lokonga come in? Or does Odegaard drop deeper with Vieira coming in to an attacking midfield role? Elsewhere, Zinchenko will likely start ahead of Tierney if both are fit, while Zinchenko could also start in holding midfield given his incredible vesatility.
—– Lloris —–
—- Romero —- Dier —- Davies —-
— Emerson — Hojbjerg — Bentancur — Perisic —
—- Richarlison —- Son —-
—– Kane —–
The back three picks itself, if everyone is fit, with Llenget and Sanchez coming in and doing okay when injuries have flared up. But the big debate is what Spurs do with Kulusevski potentially out. Does Richarlison come in for him? Or does Yves Bissouma start in midfield and the formation switch to a 3-5-2 with Son supporting Kane in attack? If it’s the latter, that would give Spurs extra defensive cover in the engine room.
Arsenal vs Tottenham prediction
This is going to be a very close game with these managers, players and clubs so evenly-matched across the board. Arsenal have been in better form but are battling with some key injuries, while Spurs look more capable of grinding out results when they’re not at their best. All of that adds up to an entertaining draw. I’m going for 2-2.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners are top of the table and have won six of their first seven games as Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka have led their impressive start as Arsenal have played with a swagger and confidence which suggests they’re ready to at least finish in the top four this season.
Antonio Conte’s Tottenham sit just one point behind Arsenal and remain unbeaten through their first seven games as they’re yet to hit top form but are very stubborn and disciplined. This will be Spurs’ toughest test so far and after just pipping Arsenal to finish fourth last season, there will be extra spice (if that’s possible) to this clash.
How to watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday TV Channel: USA Network Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Arteta’s Arsenal have been absolutely superb so far this season and they could easily be perfect as they lost at Manchester United but dominated the majority of the only game where they’ve dropped points. There is a great balance to the Gunners with young attacking players flying all over the place — led by the incredible Jesus who has slotted in seamlessly — and a solid defense with Partey and Xhaka very important in the holding midfield roles. Arteta knows that a big win against Spurs will give his young side further confidence as they aim for a top four finish, and maybe more, this season.
Conte’s Spurs have been workmanlike so far and Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Richarlison are all among the goals and are popping up at key moments when they’re needed. Defensively Spurs look solid in their 3-4-3 formation and you always fancy them to grab at least a few goals. Tottenham are seen as many as title contenders this season and a win at their bitter rivals will see that feeling grow.
In-form players to keep an eye on
Gabriel Jesus continues to lead the line superbly for Arsenal and he is bringing their entire attacking unit to life. Granit Xhaka has also been incredibly important and was excellent away at Brentford before the international break as he wore the captain’s armband once again and Arsenal’s fans were full of praise for the Swiss international midfielder.
Son has finally found his scoring boots and bagged a hat trick off the bench in Spurs’ demolition of Leicester City and he looked very good for South Korea over the international break. Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have barely put a foot wrong and are a big reason why Spurs remain unbeaten this season and look so robust. Harry Kane loves a north London derby and he always seems to take his game to a new level when this game rolls around.
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup options
Emile Smith Rowe is out until December after undergoing surgery on a groin injury, while Reiss Nelson and Mohamed Elneny remain out. Kieran Tierney, Thomas Partey, Cedric Soares and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all battling to be fit to feature. If Partey is out, Albert Sambi Lokonga is likely to come in and partner Granit Xhaka in central midfield or perhaps Odegaard could slot back into a deeper role and Fabio Vieira may play in the No. 10 role after his fine goal at Brentford?
Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options
The main injury concern for Spurs is Dejan Kulusevski after he suffered an injury while on international duty with Sweden. Hugo Lloris and Ben Davies have had thigh and knee injuries respectively and will be battling to be fit, while Lucas Moura is definitely out as he continues to work his way back from a calf injury.
Based in Woolwich in south east London, the club was originally founded in 1886 as a group of workers from the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to set up a club.
They were originally called Dial Square because of a sun dial atop the entrance to the factory. Seriously.
As for the factory itself, it served the British Army with ammunition and explosives research and 80,000 people worked there during the First World War.
Red jerseys and stadium struggles
Dial Square then became Royal Arsenal and players from Nottingham Forest joined the club, hence the now famous Garibaldi red jerseys which Forest, established 20 years before Arsenal, gave them.
After moving around several stadiums in Plumstead, which was based on the outskirts of London at the time, Arsenal then became Woolwich Arsenal and it stayed that way until 1913.
Struggling financially due to Plumstead being in an isolated area and not easy for people to travel to compared to other London clubs, Woolwich Arsenal were looking for other locations to move to from their Manor Ground home.
Bombing accelerates move
During the suffragettes battle for equality for women in the UK, targeted bombings were carried out at high profile venues.
One such bombing occurred at Arsenal’s home stadium, destroying the grandstand at the Manor Ground in 1913 which would reportedly cost over $1,220 to repair.
With a significant bill to pay to repair the stadium and the club once again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the largest shareholder of the consortium who bought the club in 1910, Sir Henry Norris, decided to move the club to Highbury in north London in 1913 after a failed attempt to merge Fulham and Arsenal, the two clubs he was chairman of.
Controversial 12-mile move from South to North London approved in 1913
Amid uproar from fans in Woolwich and north London, it still happened and famed stadium architect Archibald Leitch built their home ground at Highbury.
That is when the Arsenal we know today was truly born.
They soon became known as ‘The Arsenal’ in 1914 and then dropped ‘the’ to become known simply as Arsenal in 1919 as football resumed in England following the First World War.
Feud with Tottenham begins
In-between then a feud had already bubbled up with Tottenham. Of course it had.
Arsenal were promoted to the first division at the expense of Tottenham amid huge controversy and after a league vote, Arsenal took Spurs’ place in the first division.
Hence a bitter rivalry was born and Tottenham’s fans like to remind Arsenal to, shall we say, ‘head back to Woolwich, please, because north London is ours.’ The real version is obviously less polite.
The Gunners have never looked back
Financial success, being close to a London Underground station and improved facilities were the main reasons Arsenal moved 12 miles across London to north London in 1913 and it is where they have remained ever since.
London’s most successful team (in terms of the number of major titles and top-flight titles), the decision to move Arsenal across England’s capital city is still bearing fruit over 100 years later.
They’ve come a long way from a team set up in a factory which made explosives for the British Military.
Before the break Saints put in their worst display of the season as they lost at Aston Villa and their trademark high-pressing was non-existent. With such a young team they are likely to have ups and downs throughout this season and overall they’ve had a very solid start to the new campaign.
Everton got their first win of the season last time out as they edged past West Ham at home before the break and Lampard has made the Toffees very tough to beat. They sit on seven points (the same as Southampton) and have lost just twice so far this season. That said, scoring goals is a real issue for them as they’ve scored just five goals in their first seven games.
How to watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday TV Channel: Peacock Online: Stream via Peacock Premium
Saints have so many good youngsters with Armel Bella-Kotchap, Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia all catching the eye early in the season. The latter has missed the last few games through injury and Saints have lost both 1-0 at Wolves and Aston Villa. Scoring goals will be a problem for them but they look defensively solid this season and Hasenhuttl is relying on Che Adams and James Ward-Prowse to score the goals to keep them well away from the relegation scrap.
Lampard’s Everton are also tougher to break down and scoring goals is also an issue for them. After selling Richarlison in the summer and having Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured so far, Lampard has relied on Anthony Gordon to be his main attacking weapon. The youngster has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
In-form players to keep an eye on
Saints’ Bella-Kotchap (20) and Mohammed Salisu (23) have formed a really strong partnership at center back and both made their international debuts over the break for Germany and Ghana respectively. Saints need Ward-Prowse to get back to his best as he’s struggled to start the season and is so important to the way they play.
Alex Iwobi has been superb in a deeper central midfield role for Everton and Amadou Onana continues to show his class alongside him, while the experienced duo of Conor Coady and James Tarkwoski are forging a very solid partnership at center back with the summer signings leading by example.
Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options
Tino Livramento continues his recovery from a long-term knee injury and is getting closer to a return, while 18-year-old midfield sensation Lavia is still a few weeks away from returning. It will be intriguing to see who starts in attack with Adams as Hasenhuttl has so many attacking midfield options but nobody has staked their claim for a regular starting spot.
Everton team news, injuries, lineup options
Injury issues continue to mount up for Lampard as they lost right back Nathan Patterson over the break and that is a big blow as he’s been sensational in recent games. Jordan Pickford should be back from injury, which is a massive boost, but Ben Godfrey, Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina and Andros Townsend all remain out. Calvert-Lewin has a chance of being back for this game.