Arsenal once again face their local rivals Spurs knowing that the term 2rivals’ is no longer a misnomer where Tottenham are concerned. Not only is this game about pride, as it is, was and ever shall be, but also crucial in the jockeying for 4th place.
Spurs have looked a more impressive outfit away from home than at home this season, yet Arsenal could make hay of their high line if Villas Boas intends to use it. Spurs and Arsenal will both fancy themselves to score, that’s for sure.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger acknowledges that this fixture has taken on greater importance in terms of league position of late, ‘The results in the derbies can have a big influence on the Champions League qualifying spot.
‘They [Tottenham] are always a team who are fighting with us now and what’s important in the end is consistency.’
‘For some time we were winning championships and they were not in the top four at all, so of course they have got closer in recent years,’ said the Frenchman. ‘But we managed to always fortunately get above.
‘It was later on last year, it was our last chance to catch Tottenham back because if we had lost the game they were out of sight.
‘But this year is important as well. Every London derby is very important and we dropped some points recently so want to come back in a more consistent way of results. It’s a good opportunity to do that.
‘They are a good side, a dangerous side. They are quite physical. With Sandro and [Tom] Huddlestone now in the middle they are stronger physically and still very dangerous on the counter-attacks.’
Meanwhile, Tottenham manager Andre Villas Boas is relishing his first North London derby, “I think it`s normal, you really have to embrace it because it`s part of the greater culture of this game, it means a lot for both teams.
“You can`t wear red in a situation like this – at this training ground. The meaning of it is quite special and all of us embrace it.’
‘I have been getting it for the last two weeks, people have been speaking about it quite often – the staff, the chairman – so you understand the importance of it,’ he added.
“This is a game where passion is very high, it`s a game that represents three points, but is more than that in the history of north London derbies.”
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal’s medical team are being kept very busy today. Mikel Arteta (hip), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (ankle), Theo Walcott (arse), Bacary Sagna (fatigue), Olivier Giroud (calf) and Wojciech Szczesny (ankle) will all undergo late checks before determining whether they are available.
bou Diaby (thigh), Tomas Rosicky (achilles) and Kieran Gibbs (thigh) are, shockingly, confined to the injury list along with Lukasz Fabianski (ankle). Jack Wilshere returns from suspension.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, A.Santos, Arteta, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski, Arshavin, Giroud, Chamakh.
Player to watch: Jack Wilshere
He has a drive and ability to dribble that our midfield has been missing. He has only played 25 minutes in the last ten days, so should be well rested.
His return has caused a slight problem for Arteta, who has been isolated in possession in front of the back four due to Jack’s preference for playing higher up the pitch. It will be interesting to see if this has been picked up on the training ground.
Tottenham Hotspur Team News:
Spurs will definitely be without midfield powerhouse Moussa Dembele with a hip injury. But Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe have recovered from hamstring complaints.
Scott Parker (achilles), Younes Kaboul (knee) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) all remain sidelined.
Spurs (from): Freidel, Lloris, Walker, Naughton, Gallas, Dawson, Caulker, Verthongen, Sandro, Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Carroll, Livermore, Lennon, Bale, Dempsey, Adebayor, Defoe, Townsend.
Player to watch: Sandro
Nobody at Spurs seems to be talking much about the long term absence of Scott Parker and the Brazilian midfielder shows you why. He has become a prominent figure in front of the back four for Spurs.
Brazil has a proud history of sheilding midfielders and andro is very much a part of Mano’s plans for the national side. Sandro combines power with technique and Cazorla will have to be on his game to best him.
Match Facts & Stats
Arsenal have twice secured the league title on Tottenham’s home ground.
William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor will be lining up against their old club.
Tottenham have won twice away at Arsenal in the Premier League, one in 1993 and again in 2010.
The last two times this fixture has been played, the side that took a two goal lead has ended up on the losing side.
However, Arsenal have only won two of the last eight Premier League meetings of the sides and of the 20 meetings at home, they’ve won 11 along with seven draws.
These sides have met a total of 168 times, with the Gunners winning 70, Tottenham 53 and 45 draws.
The referee will be Howard Webb.
This is a game that could go either side’s way, I think it’s really in the balance. Both teams will fancy that they can score, the only score that would genuinely surprise me would be 0-0.
Unfortunately, I’ve a bad feeling in my waters and think Spurs will edge this 3-2. Bale, Adebayor and Dempsey for Spurs, Giroud and Wilshere for Arsenal.
Arsenal play Montpellier in the Champions League on Wednesday night in North London.
Spurs travel to Rome on Thursday night to play Lazio in the Europa League.