The North London Derby: Arsenal vs Spurs

Arsenal vs Tottenham
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday 20th November 2010
12:45 GMT

Of the last 26 North London derbies contested, Tottenham have only managed a paltry two victories, with the first being a 5-1 routing of an Arsenal side peppered with relative inexperience on their way to lifting the 2007/08 League Cup title, and the second coming at White Hart Lane in the Premier League last season.

As things stand, Spurs haven’t been able to successfully return with all three points from the ‘far end’ of the Seven Sisters Road since way back in May of 1993 (on the last day of the 1992/93 season) – so the omens, however much substance you tend to place in such things, are not looking particularly good for Harry Redknapp‘s side. However, as all but the most blinkered fan of either team will tell you, this season’s fixture will be far from one-sided – with both teams currently, if a little spasmodically, displaying some truly scintillating football.

Thanks to an early kick-off this time around, Arsenal have the chance to propel themselves to the summit of the top flight, as incumbent league leaders Chelsea won’t be handed the chance to consolidate their lofty position until several hours later. Of course, form may be rendered a little ‘moot’ come derby day, such are the levels of adrenalin and mutual contempt, but Arsenal’s recent run of results will see them coming with the wind at their backs.

The Gunners have won ten of their last 11 games in all competitions (snaffling 15 0f the 18 league points available to them in the process) and, as a result of emerging from last weekend’s round of fixtures ‘unscathed’ whilst their main rivals succumbed elsewhere, Arsene Wenger‘s side are currently sitting a scant two points behind Chelsea in the Premier League standings.

Tottenham were on a four-game win-less run before they shellacked Blackburn into submission last weekend, though their domestic struggles have been undeniably exacerbated by a considerable injury list and a particularly demanding maiden Champions League campaign to navigate their way through.

Chiefly due to the flying wing-play of Gareth Bale and summer signing Rafael van der Vaart‘s prolonged purple patch in front of goal and their creeping defensive frailties, Redknapp’s ‘throw everything at ‘em and see what sticks’ approach to tactical nous (which is, of course, in-keeping with the finest Tottenham traditions) continues to delight and exasperate in equal measure.

Last Five Premier League Meetings:

14/04/2010, Tottenham 2 – 1 Arsenal, White Hart Lane
31/10/2009, Arsenal 3 – 0 Tottenham, Emirates
08/02/2009, Tottenham 0 – 0 Arsenal, White Hart Lane
29/10/2008, Arsenal 4 – 4 Tottenham, Emirates
22/12/2007, Arsenal 2 – 1 Tottenham, Emirates

The Build-Up in Quotes:
“Gareth Bale is the most exciting player in the Premier League at the moment. I am actually looking forward to playing against him because we grew up together at such a young age at Southampton. We’ve known each other since we were 10 or 11-years-old. So it’s going to be another nice little treat for us both.” - Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is looking forward to coming up against his boyhood friend.

“We are looking forward to the game at Arsenal. We are not there yet, but we are certainly a lot closer to them than we have been for a long time.” - Tottenham striker Peter Crouch believes his side are rapidly gaining ground on their bitter local rivals.

“It will be a massive test obviously away at Arsenal but we’ll be ready for it, we need to win every game we play at the moment. We’re good enough to beat anybody and we’ve shown that in the past.” - Man of the moment Gareth Bale thinks that Spurs are as ready as they’ll ever be for the derby.

Injury and Selection Updates:

Arsenal will definitely have to do without the services of Thomas Vermaelan (who suffered a ‘mystery setback’ in his recovery from an Achilles strain last week) and Abou Diaby (who is still nursing damaged ankle ligaments). Winger Andrey Arshavin is doubtful after reporting back from Russia’s midweek international friendly against Belgium with a mild case of self-professed ‘fatigue’, and Jack Wilshere is also due to undergo a late fitness test after pulling out of England duty earlier in the week with a pulled muscle in his back.

Tottenham’s injury list is considerably longer with Tom Huddlestone (ankle), Robbie Keane (ankle), Aaron Lennon (hamstring) as well as long-term defensive absentees Ledley King (groin), Michael Dawson (knee) and Jonathan Woodgate (pelvis/groin) all set to miss out on proceedings. However, Spurs may be able to welcome Jermain Defoe back to the fold as the striker resumed full training yesterday after spending that last two months out with a nasty ankle sprain sustained whilst on England duty in September.

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