Potentially the most important North London derby in a generation kicks off this weekend’s Premier League action, with both Tottenham and Arsenal still in title contention going into the home straight for the first time in recent memory.
Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat in the London derby at the Boleyn Ground brought Spurs’ six-match unbeaten run to a halt and denied them the chance to enter the weekend on top of the table.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side sit three points behind leaders Leicester, but they do have a superior goal difference, which could prove crucial come the end of the season. Their 1-0 defeat to the Foxes in January is the only one of their last five home games that they haven’t won.
Tottenham also have the recent edge in this fixture; they have won four and lost just one of the last seven North London clashes at White Hart Lane. In addition, star striker Harry Kane has taken to the fixture like a duck to water, having netted three times in two league matches against the Gunners to date.
Arsenal have timed their annual collapse particularly badly this year, losing successive games to an inexperienced Manchester United and relegation-threatened Swansea to leave them six points adrift of top spot in the most open Premier League in memory.
Another defeat this weekend would see the Gunners lose four successive matches in all competitions since October 2002, and they have won just two away games in their last eight.
The visitors need their star men to start firing again in attack; Alexis Sanchez has gone goalless in his last 11 games and Theo Walcott is yet to discover his shooting boots since returning from injury.
Mousa Dembele returns for the hosts after missing the last two games, whilst his fellow midfield operator Dele Alli is set to return to the starting XI after dropping to the bench against West Ham.
Arsenal’s injury woes took a farcical turn for the worst as Petr Cech pulled his hamstring on his way back from attacking a last-gasp corner against Swansea. The goalkeeper will miss the next three to four weeks, with David Ospina set to deputise, and Laurent Koscielny is also out for the Gunners.
League Position: Tottenham – 2nd (54 pts); Arsenal – 3rd (51 pts)
Previous Meeting: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham (November 8, 2015)
Form: Tottenham – WWWWWL; Arsenal – LDWWLL
Key Players: Tottenham – Harry Kane; Arsenal – Olivier Giroud
Shoot Says: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal