Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will meet for the third time this year in the North London Derby tomorrow April 20. The Spurs and Gunners have split their previous two meetings this year with the Spurs coming out on top in the last matchup 3-2. The past six meetings in this rivalary game have been extremely tight as both teams have won two, lost two and drawn two games. Expect this match to be no different as both Arsenal and Tottem need a victory.
Arsenal enters the contest in second place in the Premier League ,18-5-9, 63 points, seven points behind leader Manchester United. With Arsenal’s spot securely entrenched in the Champions League next year, the Gunners need to capitalize on Manchester United’s 0-0 draw against Newcastle if they hope to end their six year trophy drought.
In the meanwhile Hotspur, 14-6-11 59 points in the Premier League, sits in fifth place three points behind fourth place Manchester City and four points up on sixth place Liverpool. The Spurs will need every point they can get to hold off charging Liverpool, who tied Arsenal 1-1 in the Gunners last game, to keep their Europa spot or to have any chance of claiming the fourth and final Champions League position for next year.
Tottenham scored three goals in the second half to come back from being down 2-0 at halftime to grab a 3-2 victory on November 20. Rob Van der Vart, Younes Kaboul and Gareth Bale, who was recently named the Professional Football Association Player of the Year, each tallied for the Spurs. The Spurs improbable come against the Gunners snapped Arsenal’s 17 year home unbeaten streak against the Spurs. Samri Nasri and Marouame Chamakh scored for Arsenal in the first 27 minutes of the match. Arsenal dominated the game controlling the ball 61% of the time but was outshot by the Spurs five to four.
The Gunners defense let Arsenal down again by surrendering a penalty goal in extra-time to allow Liverpool to come away with the 1-1 draw on Sunday. The Gunners, who are on a 15-match unbeaten streak (8-0-7) in the Premiere League competition, have struggled offensively scoring seven goals in their last seven games. The Arsenal defense which has given up the third fewest goals in the Premier League and second fewest away goals will be challenged by Bale, the height of Peter Crouch and speed of midfielder Aaron Lennon. The good news for Arsenal is the return of defender Barcay Sagna who will be responsible to contain Bale.
The Spurs, who are 1-1-3 in their last five Premier games, defeated Stoke City 3-2 in their last match. Hotspur do have some injury concerns heading into tomorrow’s game but does get the return of Crouch, who was suspended for the Champions League game against Real Madrid and defender William Gallas. Just as Arsenal is struggling offensively so is Hotspur who have scored just six goals and have played to a 0-0 draw three times.
Robin Van Persie, Arsenal Forward
Van Persie, who Arsenal uses as their lone striker, has been exceptional this year for the Gunners scoring 13 goals and adding six assists in just 19 games. Van Persie has reached the back of the net in three of his last four Premier games.
The Gunners midfielders led by veteran Cesc Fabergas and youngster Jack Wilshere will have to control the pace and ball in order for Arsenal to secure the three points they desperately want. Arsenal’s midfielders will also have to push offensively when the opportunities arise.
Wojciech Szesnesny, Arsenal Goal Keeper
Szesnesny has been the Rock of an otherwise shaky Gunner defense recording 5 clean sheen sheets and 25 saves in 9 games.
Gareth Bale, Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon, Spurs Midfielders and Wingers
The Frontline of Hotspur hopes to give Arsenal defense all it can hand. Bale who likes to find the back of the net has seven goals on the season. Crouch and Lennon have added four and three goals respectively. Crouch also has seven assists on the season.
Gomes, Spurs Goalkeeper
Gomes, a great shot stopper, has been Tottenham’s gate keeper for most of the season coming up 97 saves and 7 cleans sheets in 26 appearances. The key for Gomes is to keep his emotions in check.
With everything involved in terms of championships and reaching the Champions League for a second straight for Arsenal and the Spurs respectively this should be highly competitive game that will be televised on ESPN2. With this being the case and Arsenal having superior talent expect more attacking by the forwards and midfielders on both sides. Figure Arsenal to have a little extra pep in their step after ManU’s draw and look for a late goal by the Gunners to decide the game 3-2.
“Spurs mount famous recovery” – ESPN.com
“Points at a Premium in North London Derby” ESPN.com
“BPL Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal” SportsKeeda.com
“The North London Derby” Arsenaltottenham.com
“Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal” The Sports Campus