Lineups from 4.30pm GMT
Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck
SUBS: Ospina, Coquelin, Flamini, Rosicky, Podolski, Cazorla, Alexis
Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul (c), Vertonghen, Rose; Capoue, Mason; Chadli, Eriksen, Lamela; Adebayor
SUBS: Vorm, Dier, Fazio, Bentaleb, Lennon, Townsend, Soldado
Preview from http://everarsenal.blogspot.ie
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Arsenal Preview available here http://wp.me/p2Czc0-5LS
It’s North London derby time again today as Arsenal play at home to their fierce local rivals Spurs. It’s a rivalry that stretches back a long time, but in football terms the rivalry isn’t the biggest. While Arsenal have consistently won trophies and challenged with the very best Spurs have a taken a back seat.
They haven’t won the league since 1961 and their achievement of winning the double that season has been matched by Arsenal three times since then. The balance is so far in Arsenal’s favour that Spurs have not finished ahead of them in the league since Arsene Wenger took the reins at Arsenal in 1996. It would seem the height of Spurs ambitions is to finish above Arsenal, but they just cannot manage to do so. There are those who believe Spurs fans would be happy to finish 19th in the league and be relegated as long Arsenal finished below them.
For Arsenal it’s not just about beating Spurs although it’s always nice to celebrate the inevitability of St. Totteringham’s Day. Arsenal can and do finish above Spurs and still declare their season a failure if they haven’t won a trophy or at least challenged for the league. A day may well come when Spurs finish above Arsenal, but even if it does happen it will only be temporary. The real difference between the clubs is Arsenal are a big club while Spurs want to become one.
Last season the clubs met three times with Arsenal doing the league double and knocking Spurs out of the FA Cup too. Arsenal went on to win the FA Cup and finish in the top four to qualify for the Champions League yet again while Spurs finished sixth and qualified to play their Eropean football on a Thursday night as is the norm for them. We’re only five games into the new season, but already the same pattern is emerging.
Arsenal haven’t lost a home league game since the opening day of last season, but Spurs had a very good record on the road last season. They haven’t lost in either of their away games so far this season, but Arsenal have a lot more to offer than West Ham or Sunderland. Spurs away record may have been good last season, but it was awful against the teams who finished above them and Arsenal are one of those teams.
From a selection point I don’t see too much change happening from the Arsenal team who won 3-0 away to Villa last week. The defence certainly won’t change with only four fit defenders in the first team squad and I can’t see too much change in front of them either. There is most certainly a case for bringing both Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere back into the team and I would expect at least one of them to play from the start.
Mesut Ozil got the chance to play in his favoured role last week and he scored one goal and made another. Surely he will play in the number 10 role again this week and I wouldn’t be surprised if Alexis was one of the players given a chance to get on the end of his passes. If Wilshere is going to get into the team I can only really see him taking Aaron Ramsey’s place and they’re not really the same type of player. It looks like Wilshere could be vying with Ozil for the number 10 role and it could see him playing second fiddle for much of the season.
I was impressed with Danny Welbeck last week as he worked hard for the team and held the ball up very well when he had to do so. He missed a few good chances in his first two games for the club, but that goal last week could be just what the needed and hopefully the goals will flow for him. I can see him getting some joy against Spurs and maybe getting his name on the scoresheet.
For me it’s all about how Arsenal approach the game and if they have the right attitude and tempo they can and should win. Spurs will probably try to pressure the ball but Arsenal have the players to play their way past them and punish them. If their defence push too far forward the Arsenal attack has the pace to get in behind them and punish them.
Arsenal can’t afford to let their Wednesday night game at home to Galatasary prey on their minds and need to concentrate on the job in hand. It will be a lot easier for them to face Galatasary off the back of a good win in the North London derby.
I won’t deny that Spurs have some good players and a manager who looks like he could have a real future in the game. Their players may be good but they’re not as good as the Arsenal ones and for me that’s where the crunch comes. An Arsenal team which sets out from the start to win the game should be strong enough to overcome whatever Spurs have to offer. I’m predicting an Arsenal win by a couple of goals before they move on to the Galatasary game followed by a trip to Chelsea next weekend. It’s going to be a really big week in their season and hopefully they will get it off to a perfect start.
Insight from Arsenal fan Michael Sheehy – Drop him a follow on @JamrockRover
Michael’s been an Arsenal fan since 1970 and an Arsenal blogger since 2008. You can read his thoughts on Arsenal on here http://everarsenal.blogspot.ie and follow me on Twitter @JamrockRover
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