Arsenal - Tottenham Preview: Pride and valuable points at stake in north London derby
Arsene Wenger is hoping for a victory over Andre Villas-Boas' side, and will have fresh faces to call upon for the Saturday afternoon clash against the Gunners' fierce rivals
By Tom J Doyle
Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen
Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla
Walcott, Giroud, Podolski
Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen
Lennon, Huddlestone, Sandro, Bale
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Wojciech Szczesny are all in contention to return to the starting XI for Arsene Wenger's team.
Jack Wilshere is also back following the one-match ban he picked up for his red card against Manchester United earlier this month.
Abou Diaby (thigh), Gervinho and Lukasz Fabianski (both ankle) are definitely out, but left-back Kieran Gibbs could make a surprise return having all but recovered from the injury that forced him off against West Ham back in October.
Meanwhile, Spurs midfielder Mousa Dembele has yet to recover from the hip injury that has kept him out of action for the last four weeks.
Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe have been training alone this week, but could return to the side.
Long-term absentees Scott Parker (Achilles), Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul (both knee) remain sidelined.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The last Premier League meeting between the sides at the Emirates ended as a 5-2 win for Arsenal, despite Spurs leading 2-0.
- The last five meetings between the sides at Arsenal's home ground have seen 26 goals scored - 16 by the Gunners and 10 by Spurs.
- The first full meeting between the sides ended as a 1-0 home victory for Arsenal in 1909.
- The Gunners have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 games.
- Arsenal have beaten Tottenham 28 times at home, while Spurs have walked away with the points on 18 occasions.
- Tottenham are one win away from 300 in the Premier League.
- Arsenal beat Spurs to a place in the new-look First Division in 1919 after a vote, despite the Gunners only finishing sixth in Division Two while Tottenham finished 20th in Division One.
- Arsenal's record goalscorers against Spurs are Alan Sunderland, Robert Pires and Emmanuel Adebayor (pictured right) with eight goals - but the Togolese striker will be playing against the Gunners on Saturday.
- Tottenham's record scorers against Arsenal are Billy Minter and Bobby Smith with nine apiece.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal FC 3-1 Tottenham
- 16.77 %
Arsenal FC 2-1 Tottenham
- 13.54 %
Arsenal FC 1-2 Tottenham
- 8.19 %
|FA Cup (FA)||4 Jan 2014||Arsenal FC 2 - Tottenham 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||1 Sep 2013||Arsenal FC 1 - Tottenham 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||3 Mar 2013||Tottenham 2 - Arsenal FC 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||17 Nov 2012||Arsenal FC 5 - Tottenham 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||26 Feb 2012||Arsenal FC 5 - Tottenham 2|
|8 Mar 2014||Arsenal FC 4 - Everton 1||FA|
|1 Mar 2014||Stoke City 1 - Arsenal FC 0||EPL|
|22 Feb 2014||Arsenal FC 4 - Sunderland 1||EPL|
|19 Feb 2014||Arsenal FC 0 - FC Bayern München 2||UCL|
|16 Feb 2014||Arsenal FC 2 - Liverpool 1||FA|
It has been clear to most - and particularly to Arsene Wenger - that his goalkeepers have struggled this season. Be it Szczesny, Vito Mannone or Damian Martinez, the Gunners have had little luck or judgement between the sticks so far. However, the arrival of Spurs - and the likely restoration of the Polish 22-year-old to the starting line-up - will be of huge importance as Wenger looks to solidify his back line. If Arsenal are to challenge for honours this season, Szczensy will play a huge role, and his contribution will have to start against the likes of Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor on Saturday.
The flying winger flattered to deceive in Spurs' disappointing 2-1 defeat to Manchester City last weekend. Despite stinging the hands of Joe Hart following a mazy run in the second half, the 23-year-old was kept quiet by Pablo Zabaleta and cut a frustrated figure throughout. However, Bale is likely to find more joy against Arsenal, who put more emphasis on the likes of Bacary Sagna to push forward to join in attacks, so the stage will be set at the Emirates for Welshman to showcase his talents.
While both sides have shown some impressive attacking form of late, their defending has also let them down - catastrophically at times. The first half may be a cagey affair, but expect it to open up once Wenger and Villas-Boas start to introduce the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jermain Defoe to alter proceedings. It should end up as a hard-fought draw for both teams, and while neither boss will be particularly pleased with a point, there will be little to separate the sides on the day.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed