Tottenham v Arsenal today is even more important than usual

“Against Spurs it is always special. It has a particular meaning…” Few Arsenal fans would disagree with Robert Pires, but does this really apply to this season’s first north London derby?

Sitting rather uncomfortably in 13th with the points gap from top an unnerving 12, the Gunners are looking for more than luck to decrease this unusual disparity between them and the Manchester clubs. Whereas many would expect Arsenal fans to only be contented with a win, the narrowing of the divide for this particular derby and the hugely differing form of the sides has changed this. During a brilliant decade under Wenger, Arsenal remained unbeaten against their bitterest rivals for an astounding 21 games. After that run was broken in 2008, the teams have proved to be far more tightly matched. An entertaining game is almost always the outcome to these contests, but at least a point could be enough to satisfy the beleaguered Gunners this season.

Though a draw would only move them up two places, it would be a move in the right direction after the defeat to the dreadful Blackburn. The struggling Lancashire club lost 4-0 at home to Manchester City yesterday afternoon compared to Arsenal’s 4-3 defeat there a fortnight ago. For a club that finished just three points behind the rich kids last season, this is difficult to swallow. A victory, on the other hand, would hand Arsène Wenger’s young side a spot in the top seven. After such a poor start to the season, this would surely be considered a fairly smooth turnaround.

Oxlade-Chamberlain misses out but Walcott and Gervinho return for what promises to be the most enticing Arsenal-Spurs encounter in years. Whereas they have recently been remembered for their high number of goals, abundance of incidents and the of course the intense rivalry, the most interesting factor will be seeing how much the void has closed and if Wenger can prove it hasn’t ate him and his team up completely.