Tottenham vs Arsenal | Saturday 07 February | White Hart Lane | 14:45
Arsenal and Tottenham renew hostilities on Saturday in one of the most heated rivalries in English football, the North London derby. The fierce rivals have been jostling for the coveted Champions League spot for almost every season since 2010. However, the Gunners have managed to pip their cross-town rivals almost every time in recent seasons. The derby is also about the bragging rights as Spurs have been trying to move out of the shadows of their more illustrious rivals in recent seasons.
To Win (90mins)
Tottenham come into this cracking derby knowing that victory will see them leapfrog their North London rivals and given the fact that the game will be played at White Hart Lane, they’ll fancy their chances. Spurs are in good home form overall at the moment, as they are unbeaten in their last half dozen Premier League matches at White Hart Lane. Of those six, Spurs have won four, which included that big New Year’s Day victory over Chelsea. So with just one loss in their last nine Premier League outings and having banked a comfortable 3-0 away win at West Brom on the weekend, Spurs are again going to be no pushover for Arsenal. Throughout the season, Spurs have played with a 4-2-3-1 formation that sees the advanced players aggressively pressure the opposition defenders to try and win the ball back quickly. After adjusting to the demands of those tactics, Spurs are now being heralded as the fittest team in the league.
Christian Eriksen is the puppeteer in midfield, pulling the strings in attack and creating chance after chance even when his pass is not the final one before the ball is dispatched into the back of the net. He will cause all sorts of problems with his free roaming, dropping deeper to involve himself in play and getting further forward when Spurs have possession to both create and score goals. Harry Kane has been superb ever since he was called into the first team and is the first player in the Premier League to reach twenty goals (in all competitions) this season. Kane’s hard work and enthusiasm has been praised by pretty much all football pundits who have watched Tottenham this season and indeed the youngster should be hailed for what he brings to the team. The Englishman has been a breath of fresh air for Tottenham, and the fans will hope that he continues his current run of good form. A strong performance will be needed if Spurs are to beat Arsenal for the first time in two seasons. Enough was seen against West Brom, and indeed in recent weeks, to show they have it in them to produce one. Whether they do will give us a good indication of whether Spurs are capable of recording genuine success this season. Tottenham are not favourites to beat their better financed rivals into one of the final two Champions League places, but they are certainly capable.
Arsenal gave a five-star performance last weekend as they thrashed a hopeless Aston Villa side, scoring five goals without reply. They now sit in fifth and, after Southampton’s defeat by Swansea City, are level on points with Ronald Koeman’s side. Crucially, Arsenal have won five of their last six matches, including three successive league fixtures for the first time this campaign. They’ve also shown a thrilling thirst for goals, with their last rout making it ten goals scored in their last three outings, yet to concede. Alexis Sanchez will only add to the potency upon his return. Santi Cazorla is one of the most in-form players in English football and currently has six goals in his last nine games. He offers a threat in the final third as he has the ability to score goals and create opportunities for his team-mates. Francis Coquelin has been reasonably effective, it will be a much greater challenge for him to extinguish the attacking threat of Kane and Eriksen. The two have formed an effective understanding for Spurs and could cause problems for Arsenal. Olivier Giroud has been in red-hot form since returning from his long injury layoff. The Frenchman currently has seven goals in eight starts including five goals in his last six league appearances. Giroud has the movement and link up play that will allow the Arsenal midfield to get involved in front of the Spurs goal with the likes of Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey looking to also add to their goals for the season to continue Arsenal’s push for the top four. With Welbeck coming back from injury Giroud will want to remain impressive in the striker role so that he can maintain his first choice status in that position.
VERDICT: Arsenal 11/10
Both teams thrive on free-flowing attacking football which could see defences open and exposed. There should be chances galore at either end and their respective frontlines should take the opportunities with open arms, making Both Teams to Score a solid bet at 11/20. With that being said, Spurs do look less than convincing at the back and given the talent and quality Arsenal have you feel this could be the key factor. Arsenal are unbeaten against Tottenham in the last four meetings with three victories and a draw. Get on the Gunners at 11/10.