By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur head into Sunday’s North London derby badly in need of the injection of confidence that a victory over old rivals Arsenal would surely bring.
Spurs suffered a surprise home defeat by Newcastle United last weekend, a lacklustre performance that showed they have yet to find their feet in this campaign.
With manager Mauricio Pochettino in downbeat mood and worrying about the potential loss of players before the European transfer window closes, there has been a strange mood around a club who were Champions League runners-up last season.
As Brazilian forward Lucas Moura noted, however, there is nothing like a derby to set the pulses racing.
“Is this the perfect game for us to have after the Newcastle defeat? Yes. We need to look forward now. There are a lot of hard games to come. We need to get back to work and win the next game against Arsenal,” Moura said.
The Gunners suffered a reverse of a different kind, falling to a 3-1 loss at early leaders Liverpool, and will be desperate to avoid a derby defeat.
Spanish manager Unai Emery may be tempted to go with a three-pronged attack for the first time with new arrival Nicolas Pepe impressing on the right-wing and offering a potentially potent trident with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Brazilian defender David Luiz, a close-season signing from Chelsea, suffered a tough time at the hands of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah at Anfield and will need to up his game against Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Liverpool travel to Burnley on Saturday for a fixture which manager Juergen Klopp believes is “tricky” for his side.
On paper, a team who have enjoyed a club record-equalling 12 straight league wins and have scored nine goals in their three games, shouldn’t have too many concerns about facing the Clarets, who spent last season fighting the drop.
Although Liverpool won last season’s meeting at Turf Moor 3-1, they trailed until the 62nd minute and Klopp will remember their 2-0 loss to Sean Dyche’s side three years ago.
Champions Manchester City are two points behind Liverpool but will expect to take care of business at the Etihad against Brighton.
Pep Guardiola’s side clinched the title with a 4-1 win at Brighton on the final day of the season, although the south coast team have strengthened since and have a new manager in Graham Potter.
After beating Chelsea 4-0 in their season opener, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United have drawn at Wolves and lost at home to Crystal Palace and Saturday’s visit to Southampton will be a test of a young United side’s ability to bounce back.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, fresh from their first win of the season at Norwich City, host Sheffield United on Saturday.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)