Granit Xhaka: ‘My dad’s first few months in jail were OK, then the beatings started’

Arsenal midfielder on Saturday’s derby clash with Tottenham, why Camden market reminds him of his childhood and why he believes his mental strength comes from his father’s time as a political prisoner in the former YugoslaviaIt is the story that has shaped Granit Xhaka and fuelled the fires that rage inside him. The details are savage, barely comprehensible, and it is a wonder that the Arsenal midfielder can articulate them. Then again, like his father, Ragip – who spent three and a half years as a political prisoner in Yugoslavia – Xhaka is not a man who runs or hides. “As far as I know, his first few months in jail were OK,” Xhaka says. “But then the beatings started.” Continue reading...

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur: match preview

Tottenham will make the short trip to the Emirates more confident than ever of asserting that they are the dominant force in north London. Spurs have the x-factor in Harry Kane who has never failed to score against Arsenal in the league. Arsène Wenger needs to come up with a plan to stop the striker, fresh from skipping England duty, to extend his side’s run at home to 11 league wins. Graham Searles Kick-off Saturday 12.30pm Continue reading...

A brief guide to … the ups and downs of the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry

Even if the truth is less than palatable to Arsenal fans, the old rivals have more in common than at any point since the Premier League’s formation With the Guardian’s unstoppable rise to global dominance** we at Guardian US thought we’d run a series of articles for fans wishing to improve their knowledge of the sport’s history and storylines, hopefully in a way that doesn’t patronise you to within an inch of your life. A warning: If you’re the kind of person that finds The Blizzard too populist this may not be the series for you.
** Actual dominance may not be global. Or dominant Continue reading...

Vivianne Miedema: ‘We put the same effort in – we deserve the same pay’

The Arsenal striker, who scored twice in the final as Holland won Euro 2017, is forthright about the need for better conditions for women and for young girls to get the chance to playLike all the best strikers Vivianne Miedema cuts to the chase quickly. The conversation has turned to the Norwegian Football Association reaching an agreement to give equal pay to its male and female teams and why, even in a time of supposed enlightenment, that kind of progressive move rubbed a few people up the wrong way. “I don’t know,” Miedema says. “Their egos maybe.” Women’s football is on the rise in the Netherlands but Miedema wants more. On a grey afternoon at Arsenal’s training ground in London Colney, the engaging and forthright Dutch forward pauses for a moment to reflect on the relentless nature of her career. The player who scored twice for Holland in Continue reading "Vivianne Miedema: ‘We put the same effort in – we deserve the same pay’"

A combined Arsenal-Tottenham XI: who makes it into our team? | Paul Doyle

Only three Gunners players feature in our north London derby XI and one of those – Alexis Sánchez – is largely relying on past performances Petr Cech has been one of the finest goalkeepers of the Premier League era and, at 35, is still very good. But he is past his best, with that prediction of him being worth 10 points a season to Arsenal when he joined in 2015 always looking over-optimistic. Hugo Lloris is far quicker and more decisive when sprinting off his line, excellent in one-on-ones and among the best sweeper-keepers around. The wiry Frenchman is also particularly agile and regularly makes spectacular point-gaining saves, such as against Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League. Cech sits out Arsenal’s Europa League tussles. Continue reading...

Ready for some club football? Enjoy these four huge derbies on Saturday

The big leagues are returning in style with four big derbies: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal, Roma v Lazio, Basaksehir v Galatasaray and Atlético v Real Madrid By Martin Laurence for WhoScored?, part of the Guardian Sport Network The first North London derby of the season gets the ball rolling again in the Premier League this weekend as Arsenal aim to keep pace with Spurs after the clubs’ fortunes were well and truly reversed last season. While Mauricio Pochettino led Tottenham to their second successive top-three finish, Arsenal dropped out of the Champions League places for the first time under Arsène Wenger’s management. Continue reading...

Premier League health check: the overachievers and underperformers | Paul Wilson

The table doesn’t lie but teams such as Burnley and Brighton are exceeding all expectations while Swansea and Everton have disappointed badly. Here’s how the 20 sides rank based on early-season health and vigourThey say the league table never lies, and this is of course true. What they don’t tell you is that during the dog days of an international break, when nothing falls or rises and hopes and fears are put on temporary hold, the narrative becomes a bit less compelling. You get sick of looking at the same thing, in other words, although Burnley, Brighton, Watford and Huddersfield will probably never tire of waiting for winter and the real meat of the season from a position in the top half of the table. As far as the first third of the season goes, some of those clubs are among the big winners, simply for delighting their fans Continue reading "Premier League health check: the overachievers and underperformers | Paul Wilson"