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The belittlers will have you believe that Arsenal’s unbeaten run under Unai Emery is because of luck in timing. ‘Yeah, yeah,’ they say. ‘They haven’t lost in 18 but who have they actually beaten?’
It is true that Newcastle, Watford, Leicester and Bournemouth are among those they have defeated, yet these are also sides who beat them under Arsene Wenger last season.
So Arsenal are taking those sorts of comments as motivation ahead of tackling Tottenham in Sunday’s north London derby, where they want to make it 19 matches without defeat.
They want to make a statement against their noisy neighbours at the Emirates Stadium.
The last time Emery’s side were beaten was by Chelsea in August, having also lost to Manchester City the week before. Since then, they have gone WWWWWWWWWWWDWDDDWW.
They head into their first north London derby without Wenger since 1996 and Emery wants to prove he can beat a big Premier League side. Here, Sportsmail assesses how he can do that.
THE MESUT OZIL PUZZLE
OZIL V ERIKSEN
Games: 10 – 10
Goals: 3 – 0
Assists: 1 – 4
Passes: 477 – 410
Accuracy: 83% – 86%
Mesut Ozil did not even warm up at Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium last weekend because the German World Cup winner knew he would not be needed.
Emery dropped his best-paid player to the bench because, according to the head coach himself, he only wanted to use players who were up for the fight.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan started instead, though the Armenian is not doing enough to warrant a spot in the starting line-up this season.
So, will £300,000-a-week Ozil be brought back into the side? In Sportsmail’s opinion, he should, despite his history of going AWOL in big games.
Against Liverpool at the start of November, Arsenal drew 1-1 and Ozil put in a spirited performance while wearing the captain’s armband. If given the space, the playmaker can hurt Tottenham.
Ozil will know eyes are on him at the Emirates. A lot will be expected of the club’s main man, especially after all the talk about why he was not used against Bournemouth.
WATCH OUT FOR THAT POCH PRESS
You only need to take a look at the table to realise where Arsenal are falling short. In the ‘goals for’ column, they are up there with the best. In the ‘goals against’, not so much.
Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding are likely to start in the centre of a back four which has conceded 16 goals this season. It is a record which leaves them closer to the likes of Crystal Palace and other Premier League strugglers than Tottenham and Co.
Part of the problem is Arsenal shoot themselves in the foot too often. They have committed 12 errors that led directly to shots, with the next nearest side on eight.