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The North London derby is always one of the most anticipated fixtures of the Premier League season, in large part because it has become a check-in on two teams eager to disrupt the current cadence of affairs at the top of the table -- Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. It means the latest edition of the rivalry has a fitting place as a high-stakes end-of-season encounter between two teams with lofty ambitions.

Sunday's matchup at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a must-win for both. Arsenal are trying to keep pace in a three-way title race in an effort to win the Premier League for the first time in 20 years, while Spurs eye their first Champions League berth in two years. Both targets are ambitious but also spotlight the differences between the rivals, one that's arguably more reflective of where each team is than the 2-2 draw they played to in September.

Take Arsenal, who have enjoyed a near-perfect 2024 and remain in the title race. It comes on the back of a high-scoring season in which they lead the Premier League with 82 goals and rank second for expected goals at 68.56, but have perhaps found most success as a defensively sturdy team. The Gunners have conceded just 26 goals this season, the least of the league, ato the point that they kept Manchester City goalless in league play this season thanks to their ability to absorb the opposition's offensive pressure. It's becoming increasingly clear that Arsenal play with precision on both ends of the pitch when they are at their best, and the good days have very much outnumbered the bad ones.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Sunday, Apr. 28 | Time: 9 a.m. ET
  • Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium -- London, England
  • TV: USA Network | Stream Fubo (try for free)
  • Odds: Tottenham +320; Draw +320; Arsenal -143

As for Spurs, the hot start that included a draw against their North London rivals gave way for a season full of inconsistency. It is obvious what they want to do stylistically under Ange Postecoglou, who's about to finish his first season in the job. They prefer a high-intensity, attack- first identify and rank second in the league for possession with 61.7%, third for passing accuracy at 87.3% and fourth for touches with 25,000-plus, ahead of Arsenal in each of those categories. It's far from a bad strategy, but the execution has let them down at different times this season. Recent results have ranged from a 4-0 win over Aston Villa to a 4-0 loss to Newcastle United, the latter of which points at Spurs' need to step things up in attack and a less-than-ideal sloppiness in the back. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last five, conceding 10 goals in that time.

Why Arsenal are massive favorites

Despite the layers of intrigue this fixture can bring, the data suggests that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Arsenal come in as the oddsmakers' favorites and the benefit of fitness. Mikel Arteta should have a full squad to choose from on Sunday, while Postecoglou is likely preparing for lineup tetris. Destiny Udogie's strong first season for Tottenham is over after undergoing surgery for a hamstring injury last week, while important players like Richarlison and Pedro Porro could miss out with their own issues.

Those are not the only differences between Arsenal and Tottenham, though. The odds may be stacked against Spurs at home and the snakes might be high, but Sunday's match does not need to be a defining moment for them as much as it does for the Gunners. Both are playing catch-up in their respective races to the finish line, but for Tottenahm, this game is merely a progress report in year one of a rebuild. There have been glimpses of a good foundation, but a test against a top-tier side will offer some more answers on where the team needs to go from here.

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Arsenal might be right to come into this game with a lot of confidence, in part because their period of rebuilding is over -- and can be considered a success by several metrics. Chief among them is that Arteta has led them to two of their best seasons in recent memory, keeping them in the title race for two consecutive seasons. The Gunners are inching closer to the point of the post-rebuild era when statement-making results are a necessity, which means the pressure is very much on them to deliver on Sunday.

The onus, then, will be on them to avoid a repeat of their 2-0 loss to Aston Villa a few weeks back that damaged their hopes of winning the title. Arsenal were unusually not clinical that day, generating 14 shots and limiting Villa to none on target before conceding twice in the second half. Their defensive inconsistencies were on display that day and even though they have followed that up with two games in which they outscored their opposition seven to zero and conceded just four shots on goal, it might be worth wondering whether or not Spurs can pull off a repeat. Scoring has been a weakness of sorts in recent weeks -- they were held scoreless twice in their last five, ranking in the league's bottom five in that stretch with just six goals scored and 22 shots on goal, underperforming their expected goals tally of 8.69 in the process. Son Heung-min and Brennan Johnson are probably still as likely as ever to score, though, so it's hard to fully count them out.

As long as Spurs maintain a competitive edge throughout, they can survive this game and build towards the future. While one project in North London continues through the early stages, though, another is under pressure to deliver the final results of their experiment. Sunday is not only about bragging rights against a rival, though those are undoubtedly important. For Arsenal, it will also be an exercise in turning trophy chases into actual silverware -- something they will have to do sooner rather than later if Arteta's tenure can be considered a resounding success.

How To Watch

  • When: Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 9 a.m. ET
  • Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)