Three wins in a row for the Gunners and it looks like their season is finally starting to be back on track, but will a strong Tottenham side run riot at home and de-rail a winning steak that Wenger has finally managed to mastermind?
North London derbies are never a bore, drama always unfolds and this Sunday’s match will not disappoint. Both teams have suffered heavy defeats to a Manchester club respectively, however it’s Spurs that are in a more dominant form sitting 6th in the table with 9 points with a game in hand, whereas Arsenal are currently on 7 points. Spurs have failed to finish the season ahead of the Gunners since 1994-95, a year before Arsene Wenger’s arrival, but Harry Redknapp said this week that he believes his men can finally “overhaul” the rivals this season.
Arsenal’s injury crisis continues with Walcott, Gervinho facing late fitness tests and Koscielny ruled out, however they received a welcomed boost with Benayoun and ‘crowd favourite’ Squillaci returning to training, the latter won’t feature as he is short of match fitness.
Spurs battled to a 3-1 victory in the Europa league in midweek, with key players such as Adebayor and Bale rested, however Defoe and Lennon played a part, so they have a relatively full strength side. Tottenham have lost none of their last 15 home London derbies in the Premier League since defeat against Arsenal in September 2007, and last time they met at White Hart Lane ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
It will be a tight match once again with both teams up for it, Tottenham have managed only one clean sheet in their last 31 games against Arsenal, while there were 16 goals scored in the three meetings between Arsenal and Tottenham last season and four penalties netted, so don’t be surprised if there are a number of goals this Sunday.
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Tottenham 2 Arsenal 2
Arsenal : WWWLD
(Premier League in red)
on the Tottenham game:
Koscielny looks to be definitely out for Sunday, it looks short for him. He couldn’t absorb any test today [Friday]. For Walcott and Gervinho a decision will be made on Saturday or Sunday. The most likely to be fit of the two looks to be Walcott. Benayoun and Squillaci are completely fit. Squillaci lacks match fitness, Benayoun does not.
on playing Alex Song in defence:
Squillaci will not be fit enough to start the game. If I am tempted I can answer honestly ‘yes’. Will I do it? Honestly I don’t know yet.
on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain:
He is a possibility to be in the squad, I haven’t picked the team yet.
on Thomas Vermaelen:
It will be a fraction longer than expected [before he returns]. He will not be straight back [in the squad] after the international break. It will be one or two weeks later.
On other team news:
Djourou is out. The other injuries you know about. There were no other injures from the game against Olympiacos on Wednesday night.
more to follow…
Arsenal –Robin Van Persie – The dangerous Dutchman netted his 99th and 100th goals for Arsenal on Saturday and will spearhead Arsenal’s attack once more. He is finding his form once again, and will be a handful for the Tottenham defence. The Dutchman has netted an impressive four goals in his last four starts against Tottenham.
Tottenham– Adebayor – The Togo international will be a huge threat to Arsenal this Sunday, as Adebayor has long had a taste for these clashes, scoring eight goals in nine North London derbies for the Gunners, and he tends to thrive when provoked by the opposition fans. He has continued the trend of making an instant impact when joining a new club, scoring three goals in his three Spurs games to date and has looked in hot form.
Sagna Song Mertesacker Gibbs
Arshavin Van Persie (c) Walcott
Koscielny has now been ruled out so Song will most likely fill in at centrehalf, but after a successful spell there in midweek it most definitely the preferred option.
Walcott and Gervinho face late fitness tests, while Benayoun should make an appearance later on in the match but may be forced to start if injuries persist.
more to follow…