Lineups from 11:45
Tottenham:Lloris (c), Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb, Mason; Eriksen, Dembele, Lamela; Kane
Subs:Vorm, Davies, Fazio, Chadli, Paulinho, Stambouli, Soldado
style=”color:#ff0000;”>Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Welbeck, Cazorla, Ozil, Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Rosicky, Walcott, Akpom
North London Derby Preview : The Gooner Perspective
Written by @JamrockRover
You can read more Arsenal content at http://everarsenal.blogspot.ie
Arsenal and Spurs are in very good form in the league at the moment with both of them taking 19 points from their last eight games. Only two points separate them in the table with 15 games left to play and a Champions League spot the goal for both teams. The teams have met once already this season with Spurs just about managing to hold on for a 1-1 draw at the Emirates back in September.
Of course there’s more at stake than just the three points and an edge in the race for that top four finish with local pride at stake too. That draw earlier in the season means the winner of this game will gain the bragging rights for the rest of the season and that’s very important for any football fan. Arsenal beat Spurs at home and away last season as well as knocking them out of the FA Cup and the Arsenal fans were quick to remind their Spurs counterparts about it on every possible occasion.
Since Arsene Wenger took the reins at Arsenal in 1996 they have had a very good head to head record against Spurs and have also finished ahead of them in the league every single season. Spurs have come close to finishing ahead of Arsenal on a couple of occasions and came very close to doing so in 2006, but failed when the pressure was on them.
It would be a brave person who would bet on Spurs to finish ahead of Arsenal this season and I would imagine the majority of those who would make that bet would be die hard Spurs fans. In fact Arsenal are favourites to win on Saturday despite being away from home. William Hill is worth checking out. I’ll be having a few bob on Arsenal to win myself and I’m fairly confident it will pay off too.
Despite being in such a good run of league form Spurs haven’t got the best home record with four defeats in their 12 games and only 18 goals scored in those games. They did of course beat league leaders Chelsea 5-3 not so long ago and any team who can beat Chelsea has to be given plenty of respect. Arsenal will have to be at their best and give everything they have to get the three points, but they are more than capable of doing so.
In team news it seems Alexis Sanchez will again miss out for Arsenal as he did in the 5-0 win over Villa last weekend. He has been Arsenal’s best player this season and his loss will be a big blow, but there are plenty of other players capable of stepping up to the plate. In particular Santi Cazorla has been in fantastic form in the last couple of months and has been a huge asset to the team.
Arsenal were very good against Villa last week and had some great attacking options throughout the game. I had wondered where Alexis would fit back into the team, but I knew he would play and his absence at least eases one headache for the boss. The four players in the most advanced attacking roles all scored last week and it would have been difficult to have left any of them out, but the return of Alexis would certainly have done so.
Despite the absence of Alexis and others such as Mathieu Debuchy and Mikel Arteta Arsenal still have a very strong squad to draw from. Danny Welbeck is fit to return but he will have to be satisfied with a place on the bench as I would imagine the boss will go with the same team that beat Villa on Sunday. He will have plenty of options on the bench if he wants to change things, but the quality available from the start has the ability to win the game.
Of course Spurs have some good players of their own with Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane in particularly good form at the moment. Eriksen has shown excellent ability from set pieces in particular and he’s the top scoring midfielder in the Premier League while Kane has grabbed his chance with both hands this season and scored plenty of goals. Man for man though Arsenal have a better team and squad and they need to impose their game on Spurs to make sure they take the three points.
With the FA Cup and Champions League still to play for there’s plenty of action still to come this season, but a top four finish is vital to Arsenal. At the moment they have closed the gap to fourth place to goal difference only while third place is only a point away and they have even closed to within six points of second place. If they can continue their winning ways they will close in on all of those teams above them bit by bit and who knows where it might end.
A loss would be a very bad result though and not just because of the bragging rights, but because Spurs would overtake them and Liverpool could get within a point of them too. I still have every confidence in Arsenal finishing in the top four this season, but I would like them to do it the easy way for a change rather than scraping in right at the end. For me the ideal way to do so will be to go out and beat Spurs on Saturday and move into third place before all of the other challengers get to play their games.