Inside Lane: Five reasons why Spurs can be optimistic ahead of derby clash with Arsenal

Tottenham blogger Henry Tribe explains why there is reason for Tottenham fans to be positive as they look forward to Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates.

Arsenal may have won the Capital One Cup tie at the Lane in September, but the first Premier League clash of the season with the Gunners has been marked eagerly in the diary since June – and this year we head to the Emirates full of confidence.

We are unbeaten in the top flight since the opening day, having won our last two games, and we’re six points and seven places better off than at the same stage last season – pick your stat, they all point in the same direction. So can we expect to beat Arsenal at their place for the first time since November 2010?

Well, let’s face it – it’s probably unlikely. If we’re in fantastic form, so are Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s side are joint top of the table and have won their last five league games in a row, conceding just three goals. But it’s not impossible and here are five reasons for optimism:

1. Our results against Arsenal last season prove we can get at them. A solid 1-1 draw at the Emirates was followed by that 2-1 win at home, demonstrating that on our day we can more than live with them.

2. Defensive stability. From the side that beat Aston Villa on Monday, the only two players that didn’t play in the victory over Arsenal in February were Toby Alderweireld and Dele Alli – and Alderweireld in particular has made us so much better defensively. That has to be the base we build from. Don’t concede any silly early goals and we’ve got half a chance.

3. Crucial to that defensive stability is Eric Dier. Once again against Villa he was immense – winning tackle after tackle, header after header. What Arsenal would give to have someone of his quality in defensive midfield.

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4. The link-up between Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane will be crucial. Kane is starting to get the goals his hard work and perseverance has merited, and that’s in no small part to having Eriksen back to his best. There are few better in the Premier League than Eriksen from a dead ball situation – which could prove to be the difference.

5. Mauricio Pochettino had a good record against the top-four sides last season, taking eight points off the teams that finished above us. Under his management we’re competitive in every game, and we’ll outrun and out-press Arsenal. But we’ll need a crucial bit of quality in the final third to get a result.

It promises to be a great game, although I’m sure most of us would quietly be happy enough with a 0-0 draw. COYS!

Follow me on Twitter @HenryTribe