The North London derby is always a highly anticipated affair, but in the context of Premier League this derby clash is likely to reward the victor with more than simple bragging rights. It is fair to say Tottenham are closer than ever to eclipsing Arsenal and currently lie fourth on the Premier League ladder with the Gunners one place behind in fifth, but Arsenal will certainly not roll over to their rivals and certainly have the talent necessary to halt the Spuds good run of form.
Starting with our opponents, it is pretty clear where their main threat lies. Welshman Gareth Bale has been outstanding for the Spuds this season and has single handedly won numerous matches for Spurs. Last weekend is a prime example with the Welshman grabbing a last gasp wonder strike against West Ham. With Bacary Sagna ruled out, it is imperative young Jenkinson steps up to the challenge and keeps the Welshman in check. If that does indeed happen, you almost feel half the battle would have already been won for Arsenal.
In terms of the Gunners, as mentioned above Bacary Sagna has been ruled out with injury meaning Carl Jenkinson is likely to start in his place. Gibbs remains out after picking up an injury at the end of January, although at this stage Nacho Monreal has alleviated any concerns Gooners had on the left-back position. The Spaniard has started his career at the Emirates in a solid fashion with many fans glad to see the back of Andre Santos…for now.
In midfield, Wenger has revealed that Diaby is 50/50 for the clash after participating in the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. It would be preferable to have a more physical presence in midfield and hopefully the Frenchman is back for the clash. Arsenal must impose themselves in midfield, an area where the Gunners could clearly dominate with players such as Diaby, Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla. If they are to win, this is a key battle to come out of on top.
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Looking at the front trio, it would be fair to say that Giroud will retain his role as the spearhead of the attack. Depending on whether Diaby starts, the wingers could consist of either Cazorla and Walcott or Podolski and Walcott. The potential on the flanks is certainly high, but consistency has been sorely lacking this season. In saying this however, if there was one game in which the players would be eager to prove themselves in, you feel this would be it.
As it has been all this season, the outcome will be decided on how Arsenal come out on the night. The Gunners have been woefully inconsistent this season, but have always had the ability to beat the bigger teams. If you were to pick one clash that would inspire them to perform, surely this would be it!
on Bacary Sagna…
He is not ready for Sunday. It is too short for him.
on other team news…
Abou is an uncertainty. He has a calf problem, a minor one. It is question of days. He will have tests and then we will see if we can use him on Sunday or not. It is a 50:50. Actually maybe a bit more for him playing.
on Kieran Gibbs…
Kieran is not back. That was as we expected.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Monreal
- Tottenham have lost only one of their last seven Barclays Premier League home games against rivals Arsenal.
- The Gunners have had the upper hand in their past two matches with their rivals – making comebacks to win 5-2 in both fixtures.
- In the last 12 of the last 13 league matches between Tottenham and Arsenal there have been over 2.5 goals.
- There have been 121 goals between these sides in Premier League history, only Everton v Man Utd games have seen as many.
- Gareth Bale has scored more away goals than any other player in the Premier League this season (11), and the Welshman is only the eighth different Tottenham player to score 15+ goals in a Premier League season.
- Interestingly Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale are the only players from Europe’s big five leagues to score six league goals from outside the box this season. Consequently Spurs have scored 11 goals from outside the area, more than any other Premier League side this season.
Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1