Match Preview – Arsenal (H) Derby Special

It’s that time again. Tottenham face rivals Arsenal this weekend as the second North London Derby of the season takes place. Spurs surprised many with their display against the Gunners at the Emirates earlier in the season, with Nacer Chadli scoring that vital goal in a 1-1 draw.

Venue: White Hart Lane

Kick-Off: 12:45pm

Television Coverage: BT Sport 1

The Derby

For me, the North London Derby carries a sense of sheer panic, worry, excitement and suspense. It’s the one game I look for when the fixtures are released and it’s the one game I dread all season long. It’s the fear knowing that however prepared Spurs are, however strong or powerful they may appear; this fixture wipes the slate clean and can emerge some true surprises.

Former games

The North London Derby really spiced up around 2010, the year Spurs performed and achieved a place in the UEFA Champions League. On the 14th of April (with a difficult run in) Spurs faced Arsenal at White Hart Lane. I remember this fixture as being a real shift in the usual Arsenal dominance (despite the 4-4 result in 2008 and 5-1 cup win). Spurs began the game so very strongly and youngster Danny Rose provided Spurs fans with one of the true classic Derby moments when he volleyed home a stunning effort to give us the lead. This was only bettered by Gareth Bale hitting home in the second half to give Tottenham a deserved home result over their rivals. The joy and screaming involved in such a game capitalises the power of the fixture and how passionately we fans follow it.

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What it means

To me this game is more than a Premier League fixture, its more than another game ticked off the list. It’s a Cup Final, it’s the bragging rights at work the next day and it symbolises the true spirit in which we all follow Football.

To me, the Derby is David Bentley hitting home from 40 yards, to me its Rafael Van der Vaart shooshing the Gooners, to me its Kyle Walker leaping with joy as he scored his low driven effort and to me its Aaron Lennon slipping round the keeper to gift us our latest victory of the noisy neighbours. The Derby provides the memories we shall forever cherish as fans, it’s the results everyone knows and no-one forgets.

Stats (via BBC Sport)

Arsenal won 1-0 at White Hart Lane last season, courtesy of Tomas Rosicky’s second-minute goal. It ended a five-match winless streak away at Tottenham (D2, L3). Victory for Spurs would represent their 50th league win in North London derbies. This is the 156th league meeting. Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 32 Premier League matches against the Gunners.

Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home matches (W4, D2). Their only defeat in nine league matches came away at Crystal Palace on 10 January. Spurs have scored 20 goals in all competitions this calendar year, the most of any Premier League side. Tottenham have conceded a league-high six penalties in the Premier League this season. Opponents Arsenal have won the most (six). Christian Eriksen has scored nine Premier League goals this season, the most by a midfielder.

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Opposition focus

The Gunners are on a five-match winning run in all competitions. In 10 Premier League matches since the start of December, Arsenal have scored the most goals (23) in the division and earned the most points (22). Arsenal are looking to secure back-to-back away Premier League wins for the first time this season. Arsene Wenger’s side have not conceded a goal in their last three league games, their best run of the season. Theo Walcott has scored four and assisted three goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Tottenham.

Team News

Tottenham have no fresh injuries ahead of the Derby. Mauricio Pochettino confirmed this week that the returning Nabil Bentaleb is fit to face Arsenal.

Predictions

Starting XI – Lloris, Walker, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose, Mason, Bentaleb, Chadli, Eriksen, Dembélé, Kane

Score – You must be joking. You can’t predict a Derby!

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