Tottenham take on Arsenal in the North London Derby with a fight for top four place, and with the North London bragging rights at stake.
With just two points separating the arch rivals, the 175th edition of this feisty encounter guarantees fireworks. Talking of the last 10 meetings between the two sides, both of them have enjoyed equal success, winning 4 each, with 2 of them ending in draws. While Arsenal go into this game in high spirits, winning three games in a row including a 0-2 away win at champions Manchester City, they will be quite aware of the threat posed by their Saturday’s opponents. Spurs, on the other hand, have won six of their eight Premier League encounters, and the last time they took a London opponent at home, it was a 5-3 thrashing of leaders Chelsea.
Tottenham boast a clean bill on health front ahead of this crucial fixture, having no casualties to deal with. Algeria’s exit from the AFCON means Mauricio Pochettino will have young Nabil Bentaleb at his disposal.
Arsene Wenger will have to make it without the services of top scorer Alexis Sanchez from the kick-off at least, as in pre-match press conference Wenger hinted Sanchez might come on as a sunstitue. The Chilean missed his side’s 5-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend, and has failed to recover from a hamstring problem. Danny Welbeck’s return has given the Gunners a timely boost in Sanchez’s absence, though Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Debuchy and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still remain on the treatment table.
Harry Kane vs Laurent Koscielny
Tottenham’s top scorer will be out to trouble Arsenal’s back-line as he looks to build on last week’s double against West Brom. Spurs haven’t won a game without either Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen scoring since late August, speaks volumes for the 20-goal forward’s importance to his side. Arsenal’s best defender will have a tough time against the League’s second highest scoring Englishman.
Christian Eriksen vs Francis Couqelin
The Lilywhite’s vital cog, one who makes things happen and a game changer, Christian Eriksen has revitalized under Mauricio Pochettino. The Danish playmaker scored a stunning free-kick against West Brom, taking his season’s tally to 9 goals, already 2 more than his last season’s 7. He will be stopped in his tracks by another revamped youngster in Coquelin, who has become an imperative figure in Arsenal’s midfield since returning from his loan spell at Charlton.
Mesut Özil vs Ryan Mason
Mesut Özil made a noteworthy return to the starting line-up with a goal against Brighton in the FA Cup after being sidelined for three months. The German added another goal in last weekend’s 5-0 rout, and looks all set to make a telling contribution in tomorrows all important fixture. Tottenham’s Ryan Mason, who has made a remarkable breakthrough in Spurs’ starting XI thanks to Pochettino’s reputation of blooding the youths, will have to be on his toes against the former Real Madrid man.
- Spurs have lost just one of their last six Premier League home games against north London rivals Arsenal (W3 D2 L1).
- Theo Walcott has scored four and assisted three goals in his last six Barclays Premier League appearances against Tottenham.
- Emmanuel Adebayor has scored more goals in North London Derbies than any other player (10 – eight for Arsenal, two for Spurs). Adebayor is one of only two players to score for both sides in a north London derby along with Jimmy Robertson.
- Spurs and Arsenal have drawn 18 times in the Premier League, making it the most drawn fixture in the history of the competition.
- Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 32 Premier League matches against the Gunners.
- Arsenal have not managed back to back away wins in the Premier League this season and have only managed it once since January 2014.
- Tottenham have conceded the most penalties in the Premier League (6) while Arsenal have won the most (6).
- Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last six Premier League appearances.
- David Ospina has as many clean sheets in the Premier League this season as Wojciech Szczesny (3).
- Spurs are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home matches (W4 D2).
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed that he doesn’t have any injuries to deal with, also expressing his dilemma of having to select from a big squad.
“All the players are available and this is a very good thing for us,” Pochettino said, as quoted on Spurs’ official site.
“It’s difficult for me to now pick the 18 players, but it’s better to have that competition. It’s important for all the team to be fit and available for Saturday,”
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger was confident ahead of the derby, insisting playing away doesn’t matter.
“In the derbies the home ground is not too significant. We just focus on the quality of our game and performance”
The Frenchman also confirmed Alex Sanchez’s absence, and claimed his side can cope in the Chilean’s absence.
“It’s not easy to tell him he’s not playing. He wants to play – he’s so keen. We have enough offensive power. We don’t need to worry about being short on that front”
Tottenham: (4-2-3-1) : Lloris; Walker, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason, Stamboulli; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli; Kane.
Arsenal: (4-2-3-1) : Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Coquelin, Ramsey; Cazorla, Özil, Walcott; Giroud.
2-2 at FT
Expect goals from this game. Both sides possess lot of threat while attacking. Tottenham’s impressive home run gives the notion that they won’t be defeated by their arch rivals, while Arsenal will score enough to rescue a draw.