3rd January 2014
Everything suggests the fans will enjoy a cracking North London derby in the FA Cup third round tie at the Emirates, with both sides high on confidence at the moment. While the Gunners returned to the top of the standings with three successive triumphs, Tottenham seriously boosted their top 4 hopes thanks to back to back victories over Stoke City and Manchester United.
This season is progressive quite nicely for Arsenal who are in the Champions League knockout stages, albeit being pitted against reigning champions Bayern Munich, while also topping the Premier League standings. And while the Gunners did not have too many selection problems in the opening exchanges, the injury curse seems to be striking again with a number of key men out on the sidelines. Arsene Wenger does seem to have big enough squad to cope as witnessed by team’s latest results, but with Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner both picking up injuries, he may have to sign a new striker after all. It was the Dane who helped Arsenal record a very important victory over resilient Cardiff City, scoring a late opener before Theo Walcott put the tie beyond doubt in injury time. The Gunners will also be looking to do well at the start of their FA Cup campaign and given that they are facing arch rivals Tottenham this time out, we can safely rule out major changes to the starting line-up. And with Ramsey, Giroud, Bendtner, Gibbs, Sanogo, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diaby all sidelined, Wenger could stick to the same side that started the Cardiff City game.
Many were surprised to see Tim Sherwood get the White Hart Lane job on permanent basis, but the long-serving coach and now Tottenham manager has been like a breath of fresh air. He quickly transformed Spurs despite the serious injury crisis and helped the team revive their top 4 bid in the Premier League. The talented boss has now won three of his first four league fixtures, masterminding victories over Southampton, Stoke and Manchester United, with home draw against West Brom the only slip-up so far. Everybody can see that Spurs look much more dangerous up front under Sherwood, with the manager’s decision to restore Emmanuel Adebayor to the starting line-up yielding excellent results. The former Arsenal hero has now bagged 4 goals in last 5 appearances and is priced at 12/5 to score against his former club. Given that the players have restored the lost confidence during the past few weeks, chances are they will not be afraid to attack Arsenal, which should make for an entertaining encounter. Injury problems, however, continue as Vertonghen, Paulinho, Sandro and Kaboul are all unavailable for the trip to the Emirates, but Jermain Defoe, Andros Townsend and Lewis Holtby are back in contention.
Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham in September ended the run of nine matches between the two sides that produced at least three goals, but everything suggests the trend is set to be restored. With both sided dangerous up front and in high spirits at the moment, over 2.5 goals looks like a banker here.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 2/3