How the North London Derby can change this season

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Another North-London derby is almost upon us with Tottenham welcoming bitter rivals Arsenal to Wembley this weekend.

And following mid-week’s results, there’s a real significance about the derby with Arsenal now just four points behind Tottenham in the Premier league table.

A win on Saturday would pull the Gunners to within one point of their fierce rivals in third place, providing that extra carrot for the Gunners this weekend, not that they should need one heading into their biggest derby.

Unai Emery’s men have crept up the Premier League table in recent weeks, but what effect could a win at Tottenham have?

Would it change the way this season is being viewed by Arsenal fans and others?

The table itself

In terms of the table itself, Arsenal currently sit in fourth, four points behind Tottenham above and a point clear of Manchester United below.

The Gunners are very much in the mix for a top four finish and they are even in the run-in for the top three.

Realistically, four points seems a bit gap, especially when you consider the difference in quality between Spurs and Arsenal for much of this season.

But things have changed over recent weeks and with Spurs looking poor against Burnley and Chelsea in consecutive defeats, the Gunners now have an opportunity to catch their rivals.

However, that only seems like a realistic prospect if they can win this weekend and pull themselves to within a point.

Spurs aren’t going to keep slipping up and Arsenal will have mishaps of their own between now and the end of the season.

If they do win this weekend and cut the gap to a single point, you can bet Arsenal fans will have a very different view of this season.

That’s because they’ll have every chance of catching Spurs and reaching the top three for the first time since the 2015/16 season.

Lose or even draw, and it may be a different story and attention may just have to turn back to the top four.

Pochettino Sarri

A change of mindset

So much of football is about mindset and in those terms, a win this weekend would do wonders for Arsenal.

In one win they would strike a blow into their biggest rivals and their top three rivals in one go.

Opportunities to do that don’t come around all that often.

Arsenal are in fine form and a win against one of the ‘big boys’ would take their confidence to the next level.

That as they gather momentum and try to establish themselves above Manchester United – maybe even above Tottenham.

Mindset plays a huge part when you’re playing for anything, whether it’s relegation, top six, top four or the title.

Arsenal will know that, as will an experienced manager like Unai Emery.

If they can follow up three straight wins, featuring a 5-1 home win, with a fourth win on the bounce and a victory over their top three and local rival, it’s going to take some doing to pop this Arsenal balloon.

Aaron Ramsey Unai Emery

A message to the rivals

A big result this weekend would also allow Arsenal to send out a clear message to Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea.

At the moment, Arsenal are arguably viewed as ‘a good team, but they’re not as good as United, Chelsea and Spurs’.

This is their chance to dispel that myth, to show the teams around them that they aren’t going anywhere.

You didn’t get extra points for wins like this, so you may be thinking ‘what’s the point of that?’ but there’s more to this game than points.

As things stand, despite Arsenal’s good recent form, Chelsea and Manchester United are both looking up and fancying their chances.

If Arsenal win this weekend and manage to shift their focus to top three, suddenly, the mindset of those below them changes.

Suddenly, Chelsea and Manchester United question whether they can catch the North-Londoners, they start to respect Arsenal.

That’s another reason why a win this weekend is vitally important for Arsenal’s top three and top four hopes this season.

Tottenham Hotspur

Verdict

Whether or not a result can change a fan’s perspective on a season is down to each individual fan, you can’t predict what that view may be.

But on the face of it, a Gunners win at Wembley should reshape their supporters’ perception of how this season has gone for Unai Emery and his men.

Yes, there have been disappointing results, but to be in with a shout of third place at this point is some going.

We were talking about Spurs as potential title candidates just a week or two ago.

Now Arsenal have a chance of catching their North-London rivals.

On one hand, that says a lot about Spurs, yes, but on the other, it should also say a lot about Arsenal, how they’ve managed to put together a run of results, to find consistency and compete.

Defeat this weekend will undoubtedly have Arsenal fans feeling the blues, not just because it’s a derby defeat, but because it’s back to the same old race for fourth.

But on the flipside of that, a win will incite belief, it will give the players confidence, the fans confidence and the Emirates Stadium will be buzzing again heading down the final stretch.

It hasn’t been buzzing at this stage of the season for some time.

So, if they can manage that, then you’d absolutely have to say that Saturday’s result has a real significance to how fans view the season, and indeed where the Gunners’ campaign goes from here.

Arsenal

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