Tottenham host local rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane in the north London derby on Sunday afternoon.
The home side are currently in third place in the Premier League table, four ahead of their fifth place rivals.
I think it’s fair to say that Arsenal have been the top dogs in north London for a long while now.
Tottenham threatened to overthrow their local rivals last season, but the Gunners strong finish and Spurs slump towards the end of last season saw Arsene Wenger’s men finish above their local rivals yet again.
This season however Tottenham are again threatening to finish above the Gunners. A win on Sunday would give Andre Villas-Boas’ side a major step towards finishing above their bitter-rivals for the first time in a long time.
When Andre Villas-Boas arrived at Chelsea I was convinced that he would be a success in English football. Unfortunately it didn’t really work out for the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge.
However, the young boss seems far more comfortable at White Hart Lane. He seems happy and his players are happy too. It looks like he may yet prove to be a success in English football, after enjoying a very encouraging first season in charge of Spurs.
One of the key players in the north London derby will no doubt be Spurs red-hot winger Gareth Bale. The Welsh international has been in blistering form of late and scored a brace last time out at West Ham to help his team claim three valuable points.
Bale will be a major threat to an Arsenal defence that hasn’t exactly been rock-solid this season. Bale may play in the hole behind the lone striker tomorrow or he may play on the wing, wherever he plays it’s vital for the Gunners to stop him.
If Arsenal can stop Gareth Bale, then they will go a long way to stopping Tottenham from getting the upper hand in the game. Bale is Tottenham’s game-changer and they are the players that win teams games, it’s as simple as that.
Arsenal also have a few game-changers of their own. Jack Wilshere may be the driving force behind the team, but Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott have the ability to change any game. Cazorla seems to be getting back to his imperious early season form after a slight dip in recent months.
The Spaniard scored a brace in Arsenal’s 2-1 win against Aston Villa last time out and now looks dangerous going forward again. He gives the Arsenal team that bit of creativity and flair that has epitomised the way the Gunners try to play their football under Arsene Wenger.
Walcott has moved back to his position on the wing, after a move to a more central role lead to him bagging a number of goals and assists. The goals have dried up slightly in recent weeks since his move to the wing, but he is still providing assists for his teammates.
Walcott has the blistering pace and composure in front of goal that frightens any defence. The Tottenham will have to maintain concentration if they are to stop the England winger.
Tottenham are currently ahead of their rivals because they have been more consistent this season, not by much but slightly. Arsenal have been woefully inconsistent this season and it could cost the Gunners dearly.
Not only are Arsenal competing with Tottenham, but also Chelsea and Everton for a place in the top four. The Toffees have hit a slight sticky patch, suffering consecutive defeats in the Premier League.
However, should Everton defeat struggling Reading at home on Saturday and Arsenal lose to Tottenham the Toffee’s will be just two points behind Arsenal. Chelsea have so much quality in their team that they will always be a threat.
Arsenal cannot afford to lose the game at White Hart Lane. A seven point gap at this point of the season will be a hard one to bridge. Arsenal could still finish in the top four, but may finish behind their local rivals.
If that does happen then, as Tottenham star Gareth Bale recently claimed , the balance of power in north London has shifted from the Emirates Stadium to White Hart Lane.
Arsenal had a habit of producing big performances in the second half last season and they need one on Sunday, or Mr Bale and his teammates could be riding off into the sunset with the local bragging rights and a Champions League spot to boot.
Are Tottenham now top dogs in north London?