Tottenham vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
White Hart Lane
Kick off: March 16, 2014 4:00 PM GMT
The upcoming clash against arch rivals Tottenham comes at a crucial time for both clubs. Both parties have had mixed results in recent weeks and find themselves in must-win positions to have any hope of achieving their respective goals. While Arsenal fans are licking their lips at the prospect of lifting the FA Cup, we again find ourselves out of the Champions League at the hands of German giants Bayern Munich. Tottenham on the other hand have been given a rough ride of late after succumbing to Chelsea and Benfica in consecutive matches, while potentially suffering key injuries along the way.
Looking at the recent North London derby’s held at White Hart Lane, the Yids have the clear advantage with Arsenal unable to attain victory in any of the last five clashes and Tottenham getting three. This time around things look a bit different with Tottenham no longer with key man Gareth Bale and Arsenal seemingly having the upper hand over their rivals after seeing them off twice already this season, albeit at the Emirates.
Looking at the team news, there is some key injuries to both teams. The highest profile of course being Mesut Ozil who suffered a hamstring injury in the match against Bayern while Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey remain long-term absentees. Despite those injuries, Tottenham surprisingly could be worse-off with Kyle Walker and Sandro looking doubtful after succumbing to injury in the midweek match against Benfica meaning they could join Dembele and club captain Dawson on the sidelines.
Moving onto the topic of team selection, the absence of Ozil does mean Wenger will need to re-shuffle either starting both Flamini and Arteta alongside each other or alternatively playing the Ox in midfield at the expense of Flamini. In either scenario the Ox will no doubt be starting, but I would prefer to see Flamini involved, particularly after missing his presence against Stoke. There obviously still remains that fear of whether he can restrain himself enough not to get sent off, but his grit and leadership are key in what is likely to be a tense affair.
There are other minor alternatives, but do expect the usual five at the back (provided Gibbs is deemed fit, otherwise Monreal will start) as well as Giroud up front and the Ox either in midfield or on the flank. The only selection up for debate involves Cazorla, Rosicky and Podolski. Personally I would like to see Cazorla in the number 10 role and Podolski on the left with Rosicky coming on later in the match, but alternatively we could easily see Rosicky playing in the pocket and Cazorla shifted out wide.
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In any case, if Arsenal want to keep their dreams of a Premier League title alive there can be no more blips. The same could be said of Tottenham who have Everton and Manchester United hot on their heels for that highly sought after top four spot. The outcome of the match could have significant repercussions come the end of the season so it is imperative Arsenal gets maximum points, not only to keep touch at the top, but also to keep the teams below at bay. As always, expect a fiery encounter! COYG!!!
Arsenal: Walcott (knee), Ramsey (thigh), Ozil (hamstring), Wilshere (foot)
Tottenham: Walker (groin), Sandro (groin), Dembele (hamstring), Capoue (ankle), Chiriches (back), Dawson (hamstring)
Spurs – LLWWL
13 Mar 2014 Tottenham 1 – Benfica 3 EL
8 Mar 2014 Chelsea FC 4 – Tottenham 0 EPL
2 Mar 2014 Tottenham 1 – Cardiff City 0 EPL
27 Feb 2014 Tottenham 3 – Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1 EL
23 Feb 2014 Norwich City 1 – Tottenham 0 EPL
Arsenal – DWLWL
11 Mar 2014 FC Bayern München 1 – Arsenal FC 1 UCL
8 Mar 2014 Arsenal FC 4 – Everton 1 FA
1 Mar 2014 Stoke City 1 – Arsenal FC 0 EPL
22 Feb 2014 Arsenal FC 4 – Sunderland 1 EPL
19 Feb 2014 Arsenal FC 0 – FC Bayern München 2 UCL
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Tottenham 1 Arsenal 2