While the bulk of the Bundesliga and English Premier League matches unfolded this morning, there are two matches taking place tomorrow that bring out the best (and possibly worst) in each football fan.
I’m talking about the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, and the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Looking ahead to tomorrow’s action, what does each club have going for them, and what can we expect?
Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke
9:30 a.m. ET, FS1
New manager Thomas Tuchel has been a revelation for Dortmund, losers of just one league game (Bayern), and as of Saturday morning five points out of first. With Bayern’s dismantling of Stuttgart, however, the gap widens to eight.
Marco Reus (can we call him Mr. Glass yet?) will be out a couple weeks after tearing muscle fibers. The injury isn’t expected to set him back for long, as he should be able to return after the international break. Reus has been in stellar form, scoring seven goals while adding one assist.
Yet it’s hard to imagine Dortmund skipping a beat, for as long as superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is healthy, the goals should come. The 26-year-old Gabon international has scored 13 domestically, adding three assists. He’ll likely be the target of bigger clubs in the coming transfer windows, but it’s difficult to imagine Dortmund selling. That, and Tuchel convinced virtually everyone from last season’s terma��despite their drop into Europa Leaguea��to stick around. He’s building.
Again, Dortmund’s forma��especially since the Bayern defeata��has been scintillating. They’ve won all six of their competitive matches, and haven’t lost a match outside of that in any other competition.
As for Schalke, they’re in a bit of a slump, with their last win coming on October 17. Like Dortmund, Schalke fell into Europa League as well this season. Unlike Dortmund, they’re not cruising through their group stage.
Their scorers are nowhere nearly as prolific, and their Bundesliga away form is all-or-nothing thisa��winners of three and losers of two. In the table, there’s a bit of a logjam in spots three through seven, with points won varying from 21 to 17. Schalke sits fifth on 20, and a victory over their direct rivals would go a long way in rejuvenating their campaign.
For Schalke, the issue is finding goals. Through 11 matches they’ve only netted 14, with 20-year-old Leroy SanA� leading the way (4). The ever-consistent Klass-Jan Huntelaar only has two. Will they start flowing?
Only Dortmund and Bayern have scored 30+ goals, but 14 puts Schalke very much on the low end of the table in that category.
All that said, every statistic goes out the window for this match. It’s a derby, and just as it brings out the best (and worst) of the fans, the same can be said about the players.
If I had to predict a winner, I’d say Dortmund comfortably wins this one by two or three goals.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
11:00 a.m. ET, NBCSN
Over in England, it’s one of the biggest rivalries around, despite the disparity between each club over the years. Arsenal have been securing Champions League appearances for nearly two consecutive decades while their North London rivals are always fighting for fourth, but ultimately coming up short.
This season could end up being the same, but there’s a touch of difference with these two 11 matches into the season.
Arsenal sit second in the table, have the joint-lowest goals conceded (8), and will go top of the table if Manchester City were to lose tomorrow morning against Aston Villa. Fat chance of that happening, but a chance nonetheless.
Arsenal have also scored the fourth-most goals in the league (24), with Alexis SA?nchez and Olivier Giroud counting for half of them at six apiece. Then there’s much-maligned midfielder Mesut A�zila��well, the last two years anywaya��cruising along with nine assists and creating even more chances.
Again, Arsenal fans: if you do not want him, I’m sure there are other clubs who’d love to take him off your hands. Unsurprisingly, A�zil leads the EPL with that mark, with City’s David Silva nearest (6).
Last time these two clubs faced off, Arsenal knocked Tottenham out of the Capital One Cup by a score of 1-2, and should look to ride that little wrinkle into tomorrow’s match as hosts. However, I imagine both sides will line up a little differently this time around.
Tottenham seem to be exceeding what many thought capable of them thus far, currently resting in sixth on 20 points. Their position in the table is not a surprise, but they haven’t lost a league match since the opener at Old Trafford (1-0 on an own goal), and have conceded the second-fewest (9) on the seasona��translating to a goal differential of +10.
And, there’s been numerous positives. One boost will be South Korean Son Heung-mina��who returned midweek against Anderlechta��coming back from a foot injury. They’ll still be without Nacer Chadli and Nabil Bentaleb, but teenager Dele Alli and Eric Diera��converted from center back to holding midfieldera��have filled in admirably, building a strong partnership.
There’s Mousa DembA�lA�, who has scored three goals in his club’s last three competitive matches. That’s the same amount he scored in his previous 90. Not to mention Harry Kane, who has notched four goals in his last two league matches after scoring just one through nine.
There seems to be no better time than to truly wind into form if your DembA�lA� and Kane, as again, a lot of this goes out the window in a North London Derby. Sure, Arsenal got smashed midweek against Bayern, but most teams can attest to that. It shouldn’t change the outcome of this match one iota.
They’re cruising in the league while Tottenham aren’t losing, but haven’t strung many victories together. Will this change tomorrow? If I had to predict, it’ll be a battle, but I wouldn’t bet against Arsenal edging Spurs out.