Mikel Arteta believes Tottenham are doing things the "right way" this season, but insists it is too early to tell whether they are title contenders or not.
Arsenal head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Super Sunday knowing defeat will see them fall 11 points behind their hosts. While the Gunners have lost half of their 10 Premier League games so far this season, Jose Mourinho's Spurs sit top of the table.
The omens are stacked in Spurs' favour, too. Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home games against Arsenal (W4 D2) since a 0-1 loss in March 2014. It's their longest unbeaten home league run against the Gunners since a run of nine between January 1960 and January 1968.
Arteta is fully aware of the task his stuttering side face, but is not getting carried away with Spurs' early season form.
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"I think it's very early in the season to see who is title contenders or not," Arteta said. "But what you can say is what I said before is that they (Spurs) are in the position they are because they are doing things the right way.
"What we have to look at is where we will be after 38 games in the league. Now what is going to happen after Sunday, we want to be close and finish three points closer to them."
There has also been a stark difference in the attacking prowess on either side of the north London divide this year.
Arsenal have scored just 10 goals - only the current bottom three have fared worse - and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not scored from open play in the league since the opening day win at Fulham.
In contrast, Spurs have been free-flowing with both Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son in scintillating form. Son has nine goals while England captain Kane has weighed in with seven goals and nine assists.
Asked if his defence had to be prepared to face one of the most potent strike forces in European football, the Spaniard replied: "Yes, absolutely.
"They are in a great moment, they are full of confidence and you can see how much belief they have in what they do.
"When they have moments of difficulty, they stick to the plan and they believe they will get the result at some stage and at the moment it's happening for them.
"They've been doing really well and that's the reason why they are where they are."
Arsenal welcomed back 2,000 supporters for their Europa League win over Rapid Vienna on Thursday and Arteta said afterwards that playing in front of their own fans for the first time in nine months gave his players a lift.
But on Sunday they will be on the receiving end as Tottenham supporters return in time for the derby - although Arteta refuses to see it as a negative for his team.
"A derby without fans is not the same," he said. "We've been waiting for this moment for a long time and I'm not going to complain.
"Honestly, I'd rather play in a stadium with an atmosphere, with some fans and at this moment it's going to be for them with their supporters and the next week it will be us.
"We'd better get real with that. We will bring more fans back when it's safe and, as a professional, it makes sense when you have to handle that extra pressure... when you have fans pushing you, giving you extra energy.
"This is our profession and the beauty of it is that we can share it with them."
We need the points this time - NLD different for Mourinho
Mourinho says the feeling at Tottenham ahead of this derby compared to the meeting in July is very different.
When Toby Alderweireld's 81st-minute header sealed a 2-1 victory over Arsenal during the summer, both clubs were languishing in mid-table.
This time around Spurs are top of the Premier League and unbeaten in the division since the opening day.
"It is a little bit different because we want the points and we are not just like, we want to beat Arsenal because to beat Arsenal is the only good thing we can give to our fans," Mourinho said.
"It happened last season when we played Arsenal in the last part of the season. It was about winning against Arsenal to give something good, to have a good feeling.
"In this moment, we also look to the table and we are in a good position, fighting for positions in the top part of the table.
"But we never forget the fact that there are historical rivalries and what it means for the fans.
"Even for people that were not born at Tottenham, and many of us are in this situation, when you arrive at the club you understand the culture, you learn the culture and you share the values with the fans."
Pitch to Post Preview: Redknapp assesses Tottenham and Arsenal; Plus the return of fans, Chelsea's striker dilemma, and more!
This week on the Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Jamie Redknapp joins Peter Smith and Adam Bate to look ahead to the north London derby and assess Tottenham and Arsenal's contrasting form.
Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett also has the latest from Leicester and the future of Jonny Evans, while we discuss whether Olivier Giroud should be Chelsea's first-choice striker and Man Utd's tricky trip to West Ham.
Plus we hear from a Charlton supporter about the experience of returning to watch live football. Adam also makes his bold Pitch for what he thinks will happen in this weekend's Premier League action - and it's good news for the teams in the relegation zone…