White Hart Lane, London
7th February, Saturday; 12:45 GMT
It is a day of derbies for football fans across the globe and the North London Derby will be one of the most anticipated in the list of games this weekend, across Europe. This will be the 156th meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the League and a win for Spurs in this clash will be their 50th. But the Gunners do come into the game on the back of some wonderful performances.
Arsenal thrashed Aston Villa 5-0 at home in their last league game and since the start of December, they have won more points and scored more goals than any other team in the Premier League. They have now won five matches in a row in the league, for the first time this season and will perhaps go into this game as slight favourites over Spurs to snatch all three points.
Tottenham are coming of the back of an impressive performance themselves as they defeat West Brom 0-3 away from home. They are now sixth in the league a just two points behind the Gunners. So a win in this game will push them up to fifth and strengthen their hopes of making it into the top four at the expense of their neighbour.
Team News And Tactics
Mauricio Pochettino is perhaps the only Premier League manager who doesna t have any injury concern to contain with currently. The former Southampton boss made a lot of changes to the side in the convincing 0-3 win over West Bromwich Albion last week.
Roberto Soldado, who featured in the 2-1 win over Sunderland, was dropped to the bench against West Brom as Harry Kane was once again played as the lone striker upfront. The Englishman has revelled under Pochettino this season and is certainly more effective upfront than in the more withdrawn role he was asked to play against Sunderland.
Pochettino is unlikely to make too many changes to the starting line-up he used in the last game. Federico Fazio will once again get the nod over Eric Dier in the center of the defence. The Spurs manager will be aware of Arsenala s prowess in the midfield and will persist with the shield of Ryan Mason and Paulinho in front of the back four. Mousa Dembelea s physicality will be critical for Spurs and the midfielder will also have to contribute a lot defensively if Spurs are to prevent of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil from pulling the strings from the center of the park.
Spurs have an added option for their midfield with Algerian midfielder Nabil Bentaleb back in the squad after participating in the African Cup of Nations. Although the youngster, who came on as a substitute in the reverse fixture at the Emirates earlier in the season, is unlikely to get into the starting line-up immediately, he could still possibly replace Paulinho in the midfield.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Lloris (GK); Walker, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose; Paulinho, Mason; Lamela, Dembele, Eriksen; Kane
A lot of key players have returned or are on the verge of returning to the first team squad for the Gunners as they look to have finally found their stride after a relatively slow and inconsistent start to the campaign.
Danny Welbeck is fit and back training with the first team and the former Manchester United forward is expected to be part of the squad that travels to face Tottenam tomorrow. The Englishman will find it tough to get back into the starting line-up though with Oliver Giroud and Mesut Ozil regaining their fitness. But his return will provide Arsene Wenger with more options on the bench, especially after the departure of Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell in the winter transfer window.
Jack Wilshere is also close to returning to action and Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the midfielder will return to full training next week. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still remains at the side-lines, but he resumed light training this week. Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy and Abou Diaby makes up the rest of the injury list.
The big news though is that Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to start against Tottenham with Wenger insisting that the Chilean is a not readya . But the former Barcelona star is desperate to feature in this game and is training hard to make it into the squad for Saturday. Serge Gnabry and new signing Krystian Bielik is likely to start the next game, the French manager has confirmed.
Arsene Wenger is unlikely to make any changes to the starting line-up that thrashed Aston Villa in their last league game. Santi Cazorla, who has been in tremendous form off late, will provide the creativity behind the lone striker Olivier Giroud, along with Mesut Ozil. Theo Walcott, who has a knack of scoring against Spurs, announced his return to the starting line-up with a strong performance in the last game as well.
The rise of Francis Coquelin has been hugely beneficial for the Gunners and the Frenchman will once again anchor the midfield, alongside a more adventurous partner in Aaron Ramsey. New signing Gabriel Paulista will have to wait for his debut in the starting line-up, but his presence in the squad has added a lot of depth to the defence.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Ospina (GK); Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Coquelin, Ramsey; Walcott, Cazorla, Ozil; Giroud
- Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home matches (W4, D2).
- Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 32 Premier League matches against the Gunners.
- Arsenal are on a five-match winning run in all competitions.
- Theo Walcott has scored four and assisted three goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Tottenham.
- In 10 Premier League matches since the start of December, Arsenal have scored the most goals (23) in the division and earned the most points (22).
Players To Watch Out For
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
22-year-old Christian Eriksen has been one of the most consistent performers in the League this season and has undoubtedly been Spursa most important player alongside Harry Kane. The Danish international has already scored 11 goals in all competitions and has scored four goals in his last four starts. The former Ajax graduate will once carry the responsibility of creating opportunities for Spurs against the Gunners and who between him and Santi Cazorla comes out on top, might decide the outcome of this derby.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Santi Cazorla is perhaps enjoying his best phase in an Arsenal shirt since joining them in 2012. The former Malaga midfielder has been in scintillating form off late and one of the key reasons behind Arsenala s recent revival. The 30-year-old has scored six goals and provided eight assists in all competitions for the London club this season. More spectacularly, he has scored six goals and provided four assists in his last 10 matches in all competitions. The little Spaniard will once again be the key for the Gunners as they look maintain their wonderful form.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Arsenal
Derbies are always the hardest games to predict, but considering Arsenala s recent run of form and Spursa mediocre win percentage (50%) at home this season, the Gunners are likely to snatch a win. But it certainly wona t be a one-sided encounter.