It’s been a while since North London derby last had any effect on the title chase and while the importance of the match would have been greater if the local rivals hadn’t lost in midweek, chances are we will, nonetheless, see plenty of fireworks as both sides attempt to get their Premier League title bid back on track.
Spending the large part of the current league campaign in the shade of Leicester City, Tottenham were able to mount a serious title bid while escaping the pressure that usually goes along with it, but Spurs are now effectively under the spotlight. And it appears that the pressure of expectations is getting to them, as not only did the six-match winning run come to an end against West Ham, but the team have now produced several under-par performances in a row. It remains to be seen how Mauricio Pochettino’s charges will recover from the 1-0 defeat at Boleyn Ground that denied them the opportunity to climb to the Premier League summit, but the good news is that their local rivals are in similar positions and head into the match in even worse mood than Spurs. The hosts have some reason for optimism given that both Dele Alli and Moussa Dembele should be in contention, but much will depend on how the hosts will cope with the pressure in Saturday’s encounter.
After he only spend half an hour on the pitch in midweek, Dele Alli should be recalled to the starting line-up, although Mauricio Pochettino admitted the youngster still needed to be accessed.
Moussa Dembele could make the squad after recovering from a groin problem, but Jan Vertonghen and Clinton N’Jie continue to miss out.
Arsenal fans have every right to feel frustrated as the Gunners seem like genuine title contenders for large periods of the season, only to fail during the season finale. The same thing is happening again as Arsene Wenger’s charges were unable to build on what was a fortunate victory over Leicester City, with back to back defeats to Manchester United and Swansea now placing a top 4 finish in danger as well. The lack of confidence is going to seriously hurt Arsenal as even the players themselves are starting to doubt team’s title credentials, with Alexis Sanchez admitting his teammates lacked self-belief needed at times like these. Having also suffered a 2-0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League encounter, the Gunners go into the White Hart Lane clash on the back of three straight defeats and they clearly face an uphill task in an attempt to arrest the poor trend. With Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny ruled out of the North London derby, things are not looking to promising for Arsene Wenger and his men.
The important duo is out after picking up injuries in midweek, with David Ospina set to make his first appearance since September.
At the same time, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky are all sidelined through injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Spurs won three of last four EPL home games vs Arsenal
- Both teams scored in each of last four meetings between the two sides
- Tottenham won four of last five matches at White Hart Lane
- Arsenal have lost three games in a row on all fronts
- The Gunners won one of last five away fixtures (D2 L2)
While Spurs remain in a good position in spite of the narrow loss to West Ham, Arsenal are in all sorts of problems after three successive defeats and the lack of confidence is likely to prove a major issue. One defeat after six wins should be such a big problem for Tottenham, so we are backing them to pile more misery on their bitter rivals.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/8
Bookmaker: William Hill