Tottenham v Arsenal: Gunners’ chase for top four begins
After progressing to the next round of Europa League, Tottenham solidified their position in the Premier League with a 3-2 victory over West Ham last week and now are looking to end their derby rivals’ threat for Champions League’s spot with a victory at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Likewise, the much hyped London derby holds a massive importance for Arsenal too. The Gunners are only four points behind Spurs, two behind fourth placed Chelsea and therefore cannot afford any further slip ups from now.
Tottenham Hotspur Preview
The real test for Spurs and Andre Villas-Boas begins now. Spurs are third in the league, two points above Chelsea and manager Andre Villas-Boas knows that a victory on Sunday will further put them in a strong position.
However, they have a tough set of fixtures coming up and all eyes are fixed on them, whether they choke in the final few weeks or not.
Gareth Bale is enjoying the form of his life, scoring 12 goals in his last 12 games and will be hoping to deliver yet another scintillating performance against the Gunners on Sunday. Also, defensively Spurs are a strong unit at home, having conceded only 13 goals this season.
Injuries and Suspensions
The major boost going into this match for Spurs is the timely return of striker Jermain Defoe, who limped off with an ankle injury in the game against West Brom at the start of February and is expected to start from the bench.
This will give another opportunity for Emmauel Adebayor to lead the line who has come under criticism for below-par performances this season.
Clint Dempsey is also a week away from returning to fitness after suffering from calf injury while Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Tom Huddlestone are also absent.
The Gunners were dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers and their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals of the Champions League are almost over, after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich.
However, the Gunners ended their nightmare week with a much-needed-victory against Aston Villa, where Santi Cazorla netted a brace for the home side.
Arsenal will go seven points behind Spurs and five behind Chelsea (provided the Blues win their match against West Brom on Saturday) if they lose the match on Sunday and the task of bridging the gap with the top four contenders would become difficult.
Theo Walcott, who scored in the corresponding fixture has had a good season, with 18 goals to his name but has failed to find the net in his last five appearances.
Injuries and Suspensions
Arsenal have one major injury concern ahead of this match. France international right back Bacary Sagna will miss out with a knee problems while left back Kieran Gibbs is still out with a thigh injury.
Midfielder Abou Diaby is in contention to start the match, provided the Frenchman can shake off his calf problem.
Also, Laurent Koscielny and Lukas Podolski are pushing hard for recalls, the duo were left on the bench in the league game against Aston Villa.
Tottenham v Arsenal Stats
While Spurs are undefeated in their last 11 games, winning the last three, it is their impressive home form that stands out as their central driving force.
They have lost only two home games this season, and hold an identical home record with Chelsea, only the Blues have scored ten more goals than them and conceded one less at home turf. They have failed to score at home only twice this season while they haven’t lost in all competitions at home since 3rd November.
Arsenal on the other hand have had a stuttering season, but they are on a good run of form in the league, having won four out of their last five league games. Santi Cazorla, has been one of the most influential player for the Gunners as the Spaniard has played all the 27 games for his club.
Head to Head
Arsenal have the better record of the two in this fixture, having won 62 times in the league as compared to 48 times by Spurs. It has been the highest scoring fixture in the Premier League history and five goals and above has been scored in the last five meetings between the two, out of six.
Arsenal have won the last two meetings by 5-2 margin but have failed to win in their last four league visits to White Hart Lane. Last time Arsenal did a league double over them was in 2007/08.
Tottenham had almost a perfect month of February, where they managed four victories out of five games, drawing the other one. In terms of League performance, they have won three games out of last five, drawing the other two.
Arsenal suffered two heavy and painful defeats in the last month, both coming in cup games. However, their league form has been impressive of late, having won four out of the last five.
Tottenham v Arsenal prediction
Both the managers have acknowledged the importance of this match and both the teams will be looking for full three points. Arsenal are enjoying a good run in the league, but out of their last five league games, they have played just one away game.
Though they managed victory over Sunderland, the performance wasn’t convincing enough and were lucky to return with full three points. On the other hand, Spurs have been excellent at home and with Bale firing all cylinders it could be a tough afternoon for Wenger’s men.
Prediction: Tottenham 3-2 Arsenal