How Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs start compares to Arteta’s debut full Arsenal season

How Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs start compares to Arteta’s debut full Arsenal season

The North London derby returns this weekend with both sides desperately in need of points in the upper reaches of the Premier League table. 

For the second season running, Arsenal are in the thick of the title race, currently sitting one point clear of Manchester City at the summit but having played one game extra. Spurs, meanwhile, trail Aston Villa by six points in the race for fourth, but have two games in hand over Unai Emery’s men and can leapfrog them with two victories and a five-goal swing in those matches. You should need no extra motivation in this fixture, but Arsenal looking to win the title and kill Tottenham’s Champions League hopes and Spurs looking to do the exact opposite should make this even more spicey than it usually is.

It’s not always been smooth for Spurs this season but given they ended the last campaign way down in eighth, Ange Postecoglou deserves immense credit for restoring them as a competitive force. Not least for doing so after losing Harry Kane without bringing in a replacement. But how does Postecoglou’s debut Tottenham campaign compare to Mikel Arteta’s first full outing with Arsenal? After all, the Spaniard is proving an even bigger success at the Emirates as he seeks to win the club’s first league title since 2004.

Let’s dig into some of the key stats and factors.

Things may seem rosey and exciting for Arsenal now, but there was a time very early on in his reign when Arteta was under serious pressure. The Gunners were in the bottom half of the table when he took over in December 2019, but climbing to eighth and winning the FA Cup earned him plenty of credit in his first half-season. Arteta cashed in fully on that credit as the Spaniard could only guide his side to eighth once again, averaging 1.61 points per game. Arsenal climbed into eighth on the final day of the season, which was the first time they’d gone above ninth since matchday five, while they even spent a couple of weeks 15th after a terrible run in December.

There haven’t been anywhere near as many teething problems for Postecoglou. The Australian has guided Spurs to 1.88 points per game in the Premier League so far and, as mentioned, currently has them fifth and still in with a very good shout of qualifying for the Champions League. In fact, fifth is the lowest they’ve been since matchday two, while they even spent a few weeks top in the autumn until a drop-off in form.

Goals per game

Tottenham have failed to score in just two Premier League games this season. Unfortunately, those have come within their last five outings in the form of 4-0 and 3-0 defeats to Newcastle and Fulham, respectively. However, they’ve generally done very well in the attacking third — especially considering Kane’s departure — with 65 goals scored at a rate of 2.03 per game. Only the top four and Newcastle have scored more than Spurs this season.

In fact, Tottenham have already scored 10 more goals than Arsenal managed in the entirety of their 2020/21 campaign. The Gunners only reached 55 that season at a rate of 1.45 per game, with Alexandre Lacazette their top individual contributor on 13. Spurs have, of course, been helped massively by the continued world-class form of Son Heung-min, who has netted 15 times in the Premier League and is still only five goals off the pace in the Golden Boot race.

Goals conceded per game

Those aforementioned defeats to Newcastle and Fulham have caused recent concern for Spurs fans, who have witnessed just six clean sheets all season from their side. However, they’ve only conceded 49 goals overall at a rate of 1.53 per game. It’s been a case of little and often for Postecoglou’s side, who have conceded more than twice in a single game on just five occasions all season. Only the top three and Everton have conceded fewer goals in the Premier League this season.

Spurs’ numbers pale in comparison to Arsenal in 2020/21. They may have faltered in attack but at the other end of the pitch, they were an elite force. The Gunners allowed just 39 goals throughout the whole of that campaign. That equates to just 1.02 goals per game and was boosted massively by their 12 clean sheets. Gabriel still survives from that squad and remains a key component of Arteta’s backline.

Although Arsenal didn’t quite get it right in attack at first under Arteta, it’s his defensive ethos that has been the platform to their current success, with the Gunners the league leaders this time around when it comes to clean sheets (16) and goals conceded (26).

Games won

Arsenal suffered a lot of narrow defeats or frustrating draws during the early part of Arteta’s tenure, with just 18 Premier League wins across his entire first full campaign. Only on four occasions have they managed fewer in the Premier League era. However, they improved as they went along, with 14 of those wins coming in their final 24 matches, including five out of five to close out the campaign.

Tottenham have already equalled that record, with win 18 coming two games ago in a 3-1 crushing of Nottingham Forest. Spurs need just one more point to equal Arsenal’s tally in 2020/21, while they have another six games left to find that one extra victory.

Games lost

Even just turning in more draws would have seen Arsenal qualify for Europe during Arteta’s first campaign, but they only managed seven stalemates all season. That left them a point behind Spurs in the Europa Conference League place. The Gunners lost a massive 13 games during that campaign, which remains their joint-highest total in a 38-game season. Postecoglou will have to pull out all the wrong stops to equal that record, with Spurs sitting on just eight defeats from 32 matches.

North London derby

Obviously, it’s still very early days for Postecoglou in the North London derby, but watching his side twice battle from behind to draw 2-2 at the Emirates in his first one back in September was a good way to get going. That was a much better result than Arteta’s first managerial taste of this fixture, with the Gunners losing 2-1 in July 2020, followed by a 2-0 loss the following December. Arteta finally got off the mark with a 2-1 win at the Emirates in his third derby as a manager in March 2021, with goals from Martin Odegaard and Lacazatte overturning a famous ‘rabona’ opener from Erik Lamela.