The tie of the FA Cup Third Round sees Arsenal host Tottenham, in what is expected to be another pulsating North London derby.
There have been some cracking North London derbies in the past few years, including two 5-2 wins for the Gunners, a 4-4 draw, a 3-3 draw and a last gasp goal from Younes Kaboul securing a 3-2 win at The Emirates for Tottenham in 2010.
In this special preview for the game we have asked two of our Arsenal writers (Dan Fitzpatrick and Marcus Jones) and two of our Tottenham writers (James Amey and Matt Walsh) their opinions on the big game and who they feel will be the key men for each team as well as their predicted line ups and predictions for the big match.
Arsenal Previews / Predictions
Any game against Spurs is always a big one and the fact it comes so early in the FA Cup makes it more important. Although winning the league is the most important thing this season, the FA Cup was once seen as an important compliment to a title winning season. If we do fail to win the league, the FA Cup should still be seen as a viable option to end the trophy drought so I don’t think we should take a risk and play a weakened team. With the recent changes at White Hart Lane, it could be easy to underestimate the opposition. I am worried that with Tim Sherwood playing a 4-4-2, Spurs could try and take the game to us in a way that a weakened team would not be prepared for. For me, the Theo Walcott will be the man to make the difference. He continues to be our main threat in big games, and I think he could give Rose a very tough evening. I think we will have to be wary of Christian Eriksen coming in from the left hand side. He’s performed well in recent weeks, and it is important that he is kept quiet.
Key man: Theo Walcott
With Niklas Bendtner out through injury and Olivier Giroud a doubt for the game, Lukas Podolski will likely be asked to play up front. After Podolski’s poor performance up top against Cardiff, many would like to see him back on the left but, if both Bendtner and Giroud miss out then Podolski may be asked to play there again. For Podolski to be effective for Arsenal up top he will need to be more involved in the game, in his last five games starting up top for Arsenal he averages only 40 touches a game, and stop dropping deep to keep the Arsenal shape. When Podolski starts up front, far too often he will drift wide or drop too deep to receive the ball. When Podolski drops out of position the shape of the attack falls apart making it harder for Arsenal create chances. If Podolski can stay involved as a striker and keep the shape of the team then he can be a big help as a finisher up top for Arsenal against arch rivals Tottenham.
Christian Eriksen is the major creator at Spurs and a player anyone would fear. Eriksen gives Spurs an element of creativity they don’t have with their other players. Since Tim Sherwood took over as Tottenham manager, Eriksen has started every league game and has thrived under Sherwood. Eriksen has scored both of his goals and registered one of his two assists. Eriksen is also a deadly set piece taker creating a chance from a set piece every 78 minutes. Eriksen has the attacking quality that some of Spurs other midfielders lack making Spurs much more dangerous going forward when he is on the pitch. Eriksen has the game changing ability that can change the game for Spurs and seriously hurt Arsenal.
Prediction: Arsenal win
I have been impressed with the way that Tim Sherwood has set out his team since taking over from AVB, with his decision to bring Emmanuel Adebayor back in from the cold looking like an inspired one.
Sherwood will want to build on his good run as Tottenham head coach and I expect him to put out a strong side against the Gunners and try and avoid a replay. Spurs have been much more of an attacking force in the last few games, with Chrstian Eriksen and Emmanuel Adebayor causing the opposition all sorts of problems and Rose’s overlapping runs on the left and Lennon’s pace on the right allowing Spurs to counter attack at will.
Roberto Soldado has looked a different player in the last few games with Emmanuel Adebayor alongside him and if he can start scoring from open play then we may be onto something.
Theo Walcott will be Arsenal’s main threat against us, with his pace causing us no end of problems in our previous encounters and it will be important to keep him quite during the game. We will also need to wary of the possible overload that Arsenal may have in midfield with Dembele and Bentaleb/Capoue coming up against Arteta, Flamini and Wilshere/Rosicky.
Prediction Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham
Tim Sherwood faces his first North London derby as Spurs boss, but is no stranger to the strong rivalry between the two clubs, having captained Spurs in many derbies between the two sides.
Spurs will want to build on their fantastic start under Sherwood, gaining 10 pts in 4 games, but lost to fellow London rivals West Ham in the Capital One Cup. A catalyst to Spurs’ recent good form has been Emmanuel Adebayor, but the Togo international looks set to miss the game against his former club after being stretchered off against Man Utd. However, Spurs’ loss of Adebayor is Arsenal’s gain, with Koscielny and Mertesacker likely to come up against Soldado and Chadli/or Kane, who are untried as a partnership.
Key men: Christian Eriksen & Mousa Dembele
Importance: As always, it’s bragging rights at stake. Sherwood will want to win his first NLD as manager of Spurs, and with rumours of him being a Gunner, he will want to show the Spurs fans who his loyalty lies with.
Fears: With Mesut Özil out, and, according to reports Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner, Spurs will have to take care of possession in midfield and will be wary of Wilshere, Ramsey, Arteta and Cazorla. Theo Walcott is usually the thorn in Spurs side at The Emirates, and if Wenger decides to plump with Walcott up front, he could give Dawson & Chiriches the run around.
Prediction Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
You can get all the big odds for the game from Winner Sports (place a bet and get £25 worth of free bets) including:
- Arsenal Win 9/10
- Draw 53/20
- Tottenham Win 3/1
- Over 2.5 Goals 7/10
- Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham 12/1
- Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham 12/1