Arsenal and Spurs will indulge in the 157th North London Derby on Saturday when Juande Ramos brings his Spurs’ side to The Grove for the first time.
Arsenal will be fighting to stay on top of the Premiership when the teams meet, while Spurs will be fighting to stay 12th. The Gunners could end the day 4 points clear of title rivals Manchester United, while Spurs could fall back to 15th in the league should results go against them.
Although Ramos will be bringing Spurs to Arsenal for the first time, it will in fact be his second visit of the season.
Ramos brought his Sevilla team to Arsenal in the Champions League, then watched them get totally out-classed as The Gunners smashed three past the Spanish outfit.
Both teams are finding form again. For Spurs it’s the first time in, well, a long time! For Arsenal, it’s a recovery from a dip they suffered in early December.
Don’t expect too much flowing football come Saturday afternoon. Spurs will be as desperate as usual to get something, anything from the game, while Arsenal’s new found spirit has seen them roll their sleeves up and get stuck in when needed.
Since Ramos’ arrival at The Lane, Spurs have started to find some belif and some balls. Under Martin Jol their play was as gutless as the man that managed them.
The bad news for Spurs is that only one team has come away from Arsenal with anything this season. Manchester United grabbed a draw.
Even Chelsea, who are the league’s in-form team, came away with nothing. And that was just what they deserved.
And with all of Arsenal’s first team fighting fit and rested during the week, it doesn’t look too good for Arsenal’s neighbours.
Robin Van Persie says he knows just how much this game means to Arsenal fans. RvP told Arsenal.com: ‘When I see the fans in the street, they tell me that the Tottenham game is the one they want us to win.
‘It means so much for these people, whether they are at the training ground, or when I am out shopping.
It doesn’t matter where, everyone speaks about this game. It means a lot.
‘You can sense there is a special atmosphere. It is similar to the games against Chelsea and Manchester United in terms of atmosphere and that’s what I like the most.
‘I just love to play those games when the fans are on top of it, they are loving it and every single piece of action in the game gets the fans involved. It’s great to be a part of it.’
Spurs’ boss Juande Ramos has had his fair share of derby games when he managed Sevilla. Matches against local rivals Real Betis often ended with trouble. Ramos himself became victim when he was hit by a bottle, but he insists it does not affect him: ‘I’ve forgotten about it,’ he said.
‘It didn’t affect my confidence. The following week I was on the touchline
‘I hope it never happens again on a football pitch.’
‘It’s something that happens in all countries and not just England, people will throw insults at their opponents.
‘As long as it doesn’t involve violence then that is something normal.
Arsenal Team News:
Denilson is out after seeing red against Blackburn. Arsenal’s only other doubt is Theo Walcott. The England international is suffering from flu.
Manu Eboue’s injury is not as bad as first thought, and he is back in contention.
Robin Van Persie is in line for a start after recovering from his knee injury.
Fabregas and Hleb suffered no reaction after making their return agaisnt Chelsea, and both should start.
Player to watch: Cesc fabregas
The midfield whiz has 6 league goals and 8 league assists to his name so far this season.
He loves just this sort of match and already has a goal against Tottenham to his name this season.
Spurs will look to shut him out the game, but he’s far too good to do that to now!
Tottenham Hotspur Team News:
Spurs have been dealt another blow after Ramos revealed skipper Ledley King has not trained for 2 weeks. Bale is also still out after former Gooner Muamba injured him earlier in the month.
Zokora is out after being sent off against Man City. Striker Robbie Keane returns after being sent off against Birmingham.
Player to watch: Berbatov
He’s one of only a handful of players worth watching at Tottenham. He’s started to find some form again under Ramos.
2-1 Arsenal. The Gunners are playing too well for Spurs to take anything from the game.