Emirates Stadium, London
January 04, 2013; 17:45 BST
Arsenal FC host Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup third round fixture at the Emirates, in what promises to be an exciting North London Derby. This is the second meeting between these two sides this season and the Gunners won the league fixture back in September when Olivier Giroud scored the winner. It was their third victory in a row at the Emirates against Spurs, in fact Tottenham’s last win at the Emirates came in 2010 when Younes Kaboul’s 85th minute goal completed a remarkable comeback for the away side. They won that match 2-3 after conceding a two-goal lead. Neutrals will be hoping for a similarly open encounter and considering Tottenham’s recent adventurous tactics under Tim Sherwood, it is bound to be so.
Team news and tactics
Arsenal are currently leading the points table with both Manchester City and Chelsea breathing down their neck. The Gunners are coming into this game on the back of a 2-0 victory over Cardiff City at the Emirates as Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott provided late goals for the away side. It was Arsenal’s third victory in a row in the league, after the 0-0 draw with Chelsea back in December. Arsene Wenger’s men have already been knocked out of the League Cup earlier this season by another London club Chelsea, and they will be desperate to avoid a similar outcome in this tournament.
Just when it looked like Arsenal’s injury list has been abbreviated, the squad has been stretched once again as a lot of players have picked up knocks during the festive period. Nicklas Bendtner picked up a knock in the match against Cardiff after scoring the goal and is not certain to be out for a considerable amount of time. Bendtner’s absence, along with Giroud’s fitness concern has stretched the squad’s depth upfront. Wenger revealed that the French striker is 90% certain to miss the game against Spurs. Mesut Ozil will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the game, and the Arsenal manager said that the German international is likely to miss out as well, along with Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs. Yaya Sanogo, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diaby remain the other injury concerns.
Arsenal’s shortage in the striker department means Podolski will once again lead the line with Wilshere, Rosicky and Walcott behind him. Wilshere looked uncomfortable whenever he has played down the left, so Rosicky is likely to shift to that role with Wilshere playing through the middle. Per Mertesacker is expected to be rested as Vermaelen and Koscielny starts in the center of the defence, while Jenkinson starts at the right back. Arsenal will look to dominate the midfield with Spurs playing a 4-4-2 formation, but they will have to be wary about Tottenham’s counter-attacking capabilities as well.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott; Podolski
Tottenham Hotspur are currently 6th in the league table and eight points behind the league leaders Arsenal. They are coming into this game on the back of a massive win over Manchester United at Old Trafford as Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen scored for the away side. Tim Sherwood’s appointment after the dismissal of Andre Villas Boas has visually turned it around for Spurs and the new manager’s gung ho approach has produced the results so far. Tottenham were earlier knocked out of the League cup after suffering a loss against West Ham, despite taking the lead. It was Sherwood’s first game in charge and the team’s performance has certainly improved since then.
Like Arsene Wenger, Tim Sherwood also has to contain with a long injury list at the moment. Jan Vertonghen, Sandro, Paulinho, Younes Kaboul, Erik Lamela, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Kyle Naughton are all out injured and out of contention for this North London derby. Andros Townsend, Jermain Defoe and Lewis Holtby have returned to training, but are unlikely to feature in this game. Spurs’ biggest concern ahead of this fixture was the availability of Adebayor in this game. The former Arsenal striker was stretchered off in the win against Manchester United, but Sherwood revealed that Adebayor will start against his former club. Sherwood is expected to use an unchanged line-up in this game.
Tottenham have changed to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation under Sherwood and the partnership between Adebayor and Soldado is seemingly bring the best out of both these strikers. Against Manchester United Spurs showed great defensive organisation as well with both the wingers working hard defensively. They will look to use similar counter-attacking tactics against Arsenal and will look to exploit the wide areas on the break.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-2): Lloris (GK); Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Rose; Lennon, Dembele, Capoue, Eriksen; Soldado, Adebayor
Players to watch-out for: Lukas Podolski (Arsenal); Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur)
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur