Tottenham host Arsenal at the Wembley on Saturday in what promises to be a blockbuster North London Derby as both sides are eye a top-four finish.
Tottenham are ready to play host, albeit at their temporary home, Wembley to Arsenal, in what could be one of the most decisive North London Derby in recent times. Tottenham and Arsenal both currently sit outside of the top four and come to the end of the season, the result of Saturday’s clash could prove decisive for either side.
A draw would be a bad result for both teams, meaning Liverpool could take a decisive march towards a top-four finish, considering the Merseysiders have the easiest fixture list among the top six teams. But like all big games this season, this one too promises to bring the excitement as well as goals.
Arsenal have had an awful form away from home, where they have won only four games from thirteen. Their last two away games against Bournemouth and Swansea have resulted in defeats, but at Wembley, familiar territory for the Gunners, they could still feel a somewhat comforting away trip, as the Gunners’ have won their last 9-games here.
Tottenham in an unfamiliar home set-up at Wembley this season, initially found it difficult here, but of late got their grip at their temporary home. Spurs have lost just once in the league at home and coupled with Arsenal’s away form; fans could be set for a pulsating clash of North London’s titans.
Tottenham plays their third game against a top-four rival in a row, first having beaten Manchester United 2-0 at Wembley they drew with Liverpool 2-2 at Anfield. Arsenal, on the other hand, bounced back from their disappointing defeat away to Swansea to thump Everton at home, thanks to their shiny new signings.
Arsenal’s defence has been under scrutiny as they have been the worst among top-six sides. Both sides have scored an identical 51-goals in the league, Tottenham does possess Premier League’s most lethal striker in Harry Kane who has struck 22-goals in 24 games this season. Considering his formidable record against Arsenal and the top-six teams, he’s the x-factor in the game.
In the reverse fixture at the Emirates, Arsenal beat their rivals 2-0, but that was also the Gunners’ first victory over Spurs in 7-games. With new signings at both ends, it will be interesting to watch which manager wins the tactical battle as well the game.
Team News and Tactics
Tottenham goes into the North London Derby with key players returning from injuries. Against their FA Cup clash with Newport, both Toby Alderwerald and Danny Rose played and could retain their places in the team against Arsenal.
Mauricio Pochettino ensured crucial players remain fresh for this clash and hence rested Cristian Erikson, Delle Alli and Son for the FA Cup clash. Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele are set to continue in midfield while the attack remains the same, with Erik Lamela expected to feature from the bench.
Tactically, Pochettino is set to retain a four-man defence featuring his trusted pair of central defenders in Toby Alderwerald and Jan Vertonghen, but Davinson Sanchez could keep his place if Alderwerald is benched. Otherwise, the Tottenham team is set to be the same as the one against Liverpool.
(4-2-3-1) Lloris; Davies, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Trippier; Dier, Dembele; Alli, Eriksen, Son; Kane
Team news & Tactics
Arsenal could set to be without Petr Cech for the Tottenham game, as the veteran goalkeeper still hasn’t recovered from the knock sustained against Everton, meaning David Ospina could start in goal.
Nacho Monreal, who went off during the 50′ min mark against Everton after taking a knock, has also returned to full training, giving a timely boost for the Gunners. Jack Wilshere too has come back into the side after being ill for a whole week. Danny Welbeck is the other returning player from injury, giving more depth in attack from the bench.
Arsene Wenger may tweak the team from the Everton game, with a likelihood of starting a three-man defence in an away game. Such a system means, one of the attacking midfielders could be on the bench, most likely Alex Iwobi. Alternatively, Wenger could retain the same side that thrashed Everton last weekend., which could be possible.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang
- Spurs have lost just one of their last seven Premier League games against Arsenal (W2 D4)
- Arsenal are aiming to win both home and away against their north London rivals in the Premier League for just the fourth time in the same season
- Spurs have failed to score in either of their last two games against Arsenal at Wembley
- Tottenham have dropped 37 points from leading positions in Premier League games against Arsenal – more than any team has against another in the competition’s history
- Harry Kane has scored six goals in six Premier League games against Arsenal including four at home
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored four goals in four previous appearances against Tottenham Hotspur in all competitions;
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan has assisted three goals in 120 minutes of Premier League action for Arsenal
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.50
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.95
3. Over 10.5 Match Corners @ 1.83
1. Result – Arsenal and Match Goals Over 3.5 @ 8.50
Player to watch
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a flying start to his Arsenal career with a debut goal against Everton. With the quality of attackers behind him, it must be a relishing idea to play ahead of Ozil and Mkhitaryan in the team. Aubameyang is known for his goalscoring exploits during his time in Germany and looks like a solid bet.
Alternatively, it would not be the first time the Gabonese striker faces Tottenham. Aubameyang has four goals in as many games against Spurs, scoring all for former side Borussia Dortmund. With Alexandre Lacazette set for a bench role again, it would be Aubameyang’s time to show his superiority.
The game could also see a healthy competition with Harry Kane for goals scored. Aubameyang has in his career performed on big occasions, and the Tottenham clash certainly is his major test against a top-four rival.
Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal
As both teams would need to win this game, the North London Derby would prove to be an intense affair. With both sides equipped with brilliant attackers as well a susceptible defence at times, expect goals to be scored. Arsenal equipped with attackers will likely not go for a conservative lineup, and the same could be said about Tottenham.
With top goalscorers present at both ends of the pitch, goals should not be a problem, but weak defences could be exposed at a game of such magnitude.