There is not a single other match on the fixture list each season that gets me more excited and nervous at the same time than the two North London Derbies. Forget about form, never mind league position, because none of it matters. A friend of mine told me this week that the reason the games are always close is not because Tottenham plays up to their potential, but instead suddenly, and almost magically, the Spurs players transform into good players against Arsenal.
Vital Thoughts and Quotes:
The race for fourth has completely changed dynamics in the past couple of weeks. No longer is it a duel between two opponents because Chelsea have forced themselves into the mix with horrendous showings of late. Aston Villa fans must be jumping for joy with how this season is turning out for them. Not only is their team performing up with the Sky 4, but unlike in seasons past when a team looked to challenge the four, there is more than one team they can possibly beat out for a Champions League spot. Arsenal has looked bad all season and now the wheels are falling off the Chelsea bandwagon under Luiz Scolari. Combine all this drama with Tottenham Hotspur’s relegation battle, and this match should prove to be one for the ages.
Wenger has talked up Adebayor’s chance to make an impact in tomorrow’s derby. “Adebayor has a good record against Tottenham,” said Wenger at Friday`s pre-match press conference. “But we have good players and simply that is the best reason to explain it.’
Surprisingly we have done pretty well defensively and the boss thinks Sagna is a big part of that. “I believe Sagna has had a very good season”
“At one stage we had conceded too many goals, so we encouraged our defenders to be a bit more cautious.’
“A defender does not like to concede goals. When you do and do not win, they become a bit more apprehensive to go forward.’
“Bacary Sagna is a very reliable defender – and if you look at the goals we concede he is one who is the least involved in making mistakes.”
Of course the big talk pre-game will be whether Andrey Arshavin will finally make his debut at White Hart Lane, though in red and white of course! ‘He is not fit at the moment and I have reservations about playing him in a game of this intensity.
‘The worst thing for a player would be to play when you’re not ready and get injured before having kicked a ball.
‘I will see what kind of shape he is in on Saturday to see if he will play. We are not in a hurry with him.’
Tottenham Team News:
In my opinion Tottenham made a joke of themselves by welcoming back Robbie Keane to the Lane after selling them out not 7 months ago. I don’t have a problem with the resigning of Chimbonda and Defoe, but with Keane I found it a bit embarrassing. Nevertheless the bloke is a talented striker who knows how to score, as he already demonstrated at the Emirates with the red Scousers.
David ‘I always loved Tottenham’ Bentley is suspended for the match, and Alan Hutton will not feature because of a foot injury. Ledley King is on the treatment table as well. No shock there.
Player to watch: Robbie Keane
Not only has Tottenham shaken off the jilting of last summer by welcoming the Irishman back into the squad, but they will be making him their captain for this important match. Only Spurs…only Tottenham.
Though none of this really has anything to do with the game, as he will cause the Arsenal defense havoc with his movement and natural ability.
Arsenal Team News:
Andrey will be included in the squad, though his only involvement will probably be through a substitute role around the 70 minute mark. After being stretchered off last weekend, Abou Diaby has not been included in the squad, and it has yet to be confirmed the extent of the Frenchman’s injury. I don’t know whether this is good news or what, but Eboue has recovered from whatever forced him to be substituted midway through the first half against West Ham. Eduardo, Rosicky, Cesc, and Theo are still out.
Player to watch: Emmanuel Adebayor
I don’t think there is a player in the country who needs a goal as bad as Adebayor. His confidence is extremely low, as he only has scored 3 goals since that 4-4 draw with Spurs back on October 29th. But as we all know, he scores against Spurs. Eight goals in eight matches, and I expect that to be extended on Sunday.
Match Facts & Stats
Home and away
League (inc PL): Spurs 45 wins, Arsenal 59, Draws 39
Prem: Spurs 5 wins, Arsenal 13, Draws 15
at Spurs only
League (inc PL): Spurs 28 wins, Arsenal 23, Draws 20
Prem: Spurs 4 wins, Arsenal 4, Draws 8
Adebayor will be making his 100th Premier League appearance for Arsenal.
Arsenal is undefeated in 10 games, though they have drawn their last three.
Arsenal is 13 points behind where they were last season.
The head referee for this one will be Mike Dean. He has managed 18 matches this term, handing out an astonishing 7 reds and 75 yellows. This gives him a 4.56 card per game average.
Difficult one to predict, as both teams are erratic and I am not sure how either of us will preform. I will predict my lucky 2-1 win for Arsenal, but I am sure as hell not going to put money on it!
16/2 (Mon)- Cardiff (H)- FA Cup Replay
21/2 (Sat)- Sunderland (H)- Premier League
24/2 (Tue)- AS Roma (H)- Champions League