Tottenham will hope to arrest their recent form with a win over Arsenal in the North London Derby and revive their remaining chances of winning the Premier League title.
The Premier League weekend kicks off with a massive clash between Tottenham and Arsenal at the Wembley Stadium, with both sides looking to strengthen their respective positions on the table. Tottenham, to start with will be looking to put an end to their two-game losing run in the league, which has put them in an awkward position and potentially killed off their title hopes.
Spurs have lost back-to-back games away from home to Burnley and Chelsea, which has made this game against Arsenal a must-win. The loss at Stamford Bridge stretched the gap between Tottenham and table toppers Liverpool to a massive nine points, and Mauricio Pochettino will be well aware that another loss will let Arsenal close the gap on his side.
Arsenal, on the other hand, come into this edition of the North London Derby om the back of three consecutive wins in the Premier League. During the midweek games, the Gunners thrashed Bournemouth 5-1, narrowing the gap on their local rivals to four points. Unai Emery will know that a win over Tottenham at Wembley will reduce the deficit to a single point, thus providing a massive boost to Arsenal’s top four chances.
Emery can also take some hope from their reverse fixture back in December when his side comprehensively beat Spurs 4-2 at the Emirates and a similar performance would ensure a double over their rivals this season. However, a loss or a draw would shake Arsenal’s stronghold on the fourth place, provided Manchester United and Chelsea win their games.
Team News & Tactics
The most significant boost for Tottenham has been the news of Harry Kane escaping a retrospective ban for his actions against Chelsea during their loss at Stamford Bridge. Pochettino surely needs his star striker, who has scored 11 goals against Arsenal in just eight league games, to ensure his side arrests their recent slump.
However, Spurs do have some problems heading into the big game, with the likes of Jan Vertonghen and Harry Winks both doubtful due to their respective hip injuries. Both players are expected to go through late fitness tests to determine their status to face Arsenal. Dele Alli and Eric Dier remain out of contention with their own injuries.
In the case that Vertonghen is fit, Pochettino is expected to revert to a three-man backline, with Erik Lamela the likely player to be sacrificed for a bench role from the lineup. Kieran Trippier might still be preferred ahead of Serge Aurier at right wing-back despite his howler of an own goal against Chelsea, while a front three of Son Heung-min, Kane, and Christian Eriksen are expected to start.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Winks, Davies; Son, Kane, Eriksen
Unai Emery allayed fans’ fear of a possible problem with Sead Kolasinac and Granit Xhaka after their win over Bournemouth. The Bosnian was taken off in the second half, but it was no more than a precautionary measure, while the Swiss midfielder was confirmed to have been rested for that game. Xhaka is expected to be back in the starting lineup and might lineup alongside Lucas Torreira in midfield.
Laurent Koscielny might be a doubt following the knock he received against Bournemouth late on. The Frenchman could yet make it to the side as Emery did not suggest that the Arsenal captain was struggling with an injury, and could be subject to a late fitness test. Arsenal do have Sokratis back and with Shkodran Mustafi rested, Enery has the right personnel at the back in central defence. Nacho Monreal could also be an option if the manager decides to go ahead with a three-man backline.
Emery will have to make a decision on Mesut Ozil’s inclusion after the German played out another influential match against the Cherries. However, with the Arsenal boss not selecting the playmaker for big games this season, it is likely that Aaron Ramsey could start in his stead. Emery might also only start with either of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette up front, while Denis Suarez is expected to be on the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Ramsey
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.53
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.61
1. Arsenal to win @ 3.75
- Tottenham Hotspur have won five of their last seven home Premier League games against Arsenal including each of the previous two
- Arsenal are looking to complete a Premier League double over Spurs for only the fourth time, also doing so in 2004-05, 2007-08 and 2013-14.
- The away team have won just one of the last 16 Premier League fixtures between Spurs and Arsenal, with the Gunners winning 1-0 at White Hart Lane in March 2014
- This will be the fifth meeting between Tottenham and Arsenal at Wembley, with Spurs winning two (D1 L1).
- Tottenham haven’t lost three consecutive Premier League games since November 2012, when their third defeat had coincidentally come against Arsenal.
Player to Watch
The Armenian attacker seems to have been turning a corner ever since returning from the foot injury that kept him out of the side for over a month. In the last two games, the playmaker has two goals and three assists to his name and his displays suggest a growth in confidence, which might finally show the manager his true worth.
Now at a crossroads in his Arsenal career, Mkhitaryan might prove to be the answer to Arsenal’s long-standing problem on the right side of the attack, should he continue his good run. Mkhitaryan’s performances, especially his ability to score goals and rake up assists, will be essential and might take some burden off their primary goalscorers in the run in, starting with the derby against Tottenham.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Arsenal
The prediction is purely based on current form for both sides. Spurs have been abysmal in the last two games, while Arsenal are turning a corner on their inconsistent form and showing some real character heading into the North London Derby. The Gunners also have the chance to pull themselves closer to their rivals on the table with a win, and they might not want to lose such an opportunity here.
Tottenham will be motivated enough to arrest their slide against the rivals, and the quality is there in the side to beat Arsenal. But it’s the Gunners who have the slightest upper hands in this tie and will likely take advantage of Spurs’ bad form in addition to their own rampant run. We predict Arsenal to just nick it at Wembley and move within a point of Tottenham.