North London derby poses questions for Arsenal & Spurs

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Despite the 2014-15 Premier League season being only a matter of weeks old, one of the most hotly-anticipated derbies is upon us.

The north part of the capital will have a clear divide this Saturday evening as Arsenal take on Tottenham Hotspur. Make no mistake, this fixture has provided some enthralling encounters in recent years. Only this time, both sides arguably have much more to prove than in the recent past.

Struggling after Bale?

For Spurs, they are still viewed in the eyes of many as a team that have yet to move on after Gareth Bale. A raft of signings arrived in the wake of the Welshman’s departure, yet some are still struggling to plug the gap more than one year after their arrival.

Roberto Soldado’s big price tag and even bigger reputation had Spurs fans excited, but he's yet convince them of his worth. The same treatment has been given to Erik Lamela and Paulinho. These players have had time to adapt to the top division, yet Tottenham’s inconsistent start shows they may never deliver.

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To be fair to these players, attempting to integrate themselves into three separate managers’ styles is no easy task and the style of play adopted by new boss Mauricio Pochettino is by no means instant.

Such a style worked wonders at Southampton, yet the young Argentine must realise the level of expectation is something quite different to what he has experienced before.

Style integration

Impressive back-to-back wins over West Ham and QPR mean little when they are followed by a limp 3-0 home reverse against Liverpool - a legitimate top four opponent.

In many ways, their neighbours Arsenal have experienced something rather similar. Around £80million was spent this previous summer in the hope of them becoming title challengers, yet they too have suffered similar inconsistencies.

Going from a miserable defat in Dortmund on their first Champions League encounter, to a decimating 3-0 victory over Aston Villa merely days later is by no means the consistency which will deliver major honours.

Arsenal inconsistency

This inconsistency has plagued the Gunners for years and surely the end of a 9-year trophyless spell must give the players enough confidence to challenge at the very top.

One would also think that having the kind of stability that Arsene Wenger brings must provide an advantage over their top four rivals. Unfortunately, the highly impressive performances of Chelsea have sent a clear message. Stability and one FA Cup may count for nothing.

Prior to derby day most fans would hold the belief that it is merely bragging rights on the line. Somehow I feel this is not the case here. We have two teams who are becoming regarded as ‘nearly men’. Occasionally threatening, yet always falling short of their ultimate ambitions.

Perhaps by the full time whistle on Saturday evening, we will know if either team can lose this tag.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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