Spurs v Arsenal: Premier League February 2015
It’s Spurs v Arsenal this lunchtime from White Hart Lane in the north London derby, one of the most anticipated and entertaining fixtures on the Premier League calendar…..
Both clubs are in their best form of the campaign, with Arsenal winning three league games in the row for the first time, and a Harry Kane-inspired Spurs surging up the table.
They’re just two points behind Arsenal, and a victory here would see the home side leapfrog the Gunners and Southampton – for at least a couple of hours – into that coveted final Champions League spot. This feels like a huge game.
Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is available to face Arsenal after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and means head coach Mauricio Pochettino has a full complement of players.
Arsenal are again without top scorer Alexis Sanchez because of a hamstring injury, but Danny Welbeck has overcome a thigh problem.
The game has come too soon for Jack Wilshere, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also among the Gunners’ absentees.
- 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.
- 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.
Arguably the major point of interest is the approach used by Arsene Wenger. Usually we know exactly what to expect from Arsenal, but in recent weeks Wenger has deployed his side in a more cautious manner than expected when needed – see the excellent counter-attacking victory against Manchester City last month – and Arsenal were also highly defensive at White Hart Lane last season, when they won the game through an early Tomas Rosicky thunderbolt, then sat deep and defended. Perhaps they’ll play the same way again.
Wenger has used a 4-3-3 formation for the last two Premier League games, although switched to 4-2-3-1 for the FA Cup game against Brighton in between. News that Alexis Sanchez will miss the game has probably spared Wenger from a tough selection decision because the four attacking players that were used in the 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa last time out – Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud – all found the target.
Mauricio Pochettino has chopped and changed in recent weeks, particularly in midfield, although the attacking part of his side is now heavily dependent upon Kane, who has reached 20 goals in all competitions already, and Christian Eriksen, the division’s top-scoring midfielder.
Arsenal must watch these two extremely carefully – Kane’s quick, composed finishing has been highly impressive, while Eriksen has a habit of scoring late, crucial goals from the edge of the box. Coquelin might be in for a big test against the tricky Dane.
Pochettino deployed Mousa Dembele in an advanced midfield position against West Brom – he was involved in the opening two goals, and is likely to start again here.
He could be shifted deep alongside Ryan Mason or Paulinho, who was given a surprise start at the Hawthorns, but Pochettino might opt for a more defensive option against the threat of Arsenal’s multiple playmakers. Nabil Bentaleb could be involved after his Africa Cup of Nations participation ended last weekend, and might be a vital player.
In terms of individual battles, it will be interesting to see who Wenger fields on the flanks. Walcott against Danny Rose could be a brilliant battle in terms of sheer pace, while on the opposite flank Wenger might be a little worried about Kyle Walker’s overlapping, should he field Ozil on that side, because the German likes to drift inside and doesn’t always take up a good defensive position.
Arsenal are in good attacking form and it feels like they’ll create more chances than Spurs because of their wealth of creative players, but Kane and Eriksen have been so effective at turning half-chances into goals. We can see both sides scoring here, so will back that outcome at 1.65.
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