It’s the final installment of the North London Derby at White Hart Lane on Sunday as Spurs confirm their temporary home for next season and it cannot have come at a better time for the Lily Whites.
Tottenham Hotspur playing Arsenal has always been a massive encounter at any point in the season no matter where the two sides were sat on the league table. But there has been a shift in power in the North of London as Pochettino’s young and vibrant Spurs, unbeaten at home, look set to finish above their arch nemesis and three points on Sunday could all but seal it – with four games to spare.
Caught in the tail-end of a title challenge, the Argentine manager can play down the prospect of finishing above Arsenal all he wants in the press conference but there is a general consensus that Tottenham Hotspur cannot wait for the season to end to enjoy their finest league campaign in a very long time before they look forward to a new home.
On the contrary, this has been Arsenal’s worst showing in the league since Arsene Wenger took over in England – just over twenty years ago. The Gunners will need a miracle to finish in the top four but if there is anything they could salvage from a disastrous campaign besides winning another FA Cup, it’s by putting an irreversible dent on their neighbours’ title challenge which could be seriously affected should the visitors get maximum points.
Arsenal are not in great form on the road – losing two of their last three games away from home, but given the clichéd notion that form goes out of the window in derbies coupled with a thrilling semi-final win against City which may just be the morale boost they needed, for them to go and spoil the party at White Hart Lane.
Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Michel Vorm and Cameron Carter-Vickers are all out. But the prospective absence of Mousa Dembele in the middle of the park could be telling for Spurs, who will be assessed before any decision is made. However, Pochettino will be boosted by the return of Danny Rose who could start on the bench, after recovering from an injury he suffered against Sunderland, back in January.
Arsenal could be without two of their first choice center-backs as Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny are both doubts, while Santi Cazorla is ruled out. David Ospina and Lucas Perez returned to training this week and could feature in the match-day squad.
- Mauricio Pochettino is the first ever Tottenham manager to remain unbeaten in his first five top-flight north London Premier League derbies.
- This will be Arsene Wenger’s 50th north London derby in charge of Arsenal (W22 D20 L7) – the Gunners have scored more goals against Spurs than they have against any other side under the Frenchman (92).
- Only Liverpool v Spurs (140) has seen more Premier League goals than the north London derby (139) – Chelsea v Spurs also 139.
Key Men Comparison
Harry Kane (Spurs) v Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Tottenham Hotspur have their own derby hero in Harry Kane who, in addition to being one of the best forwards in the country, has become the talisman the home side have been craving for. The England International has a very good record in North London derbies particularly at home. He has scored in four consecutive Premier League appearances against Arsenal, (5 – level with Bale) and one more goal would make him the highest goalscorer for Spurs in these fixtures in the Premier League era. That should be his motivation, not that he needed some.
Mesut Ozil has been hot and cold this campaign – certainly failed to hit the heights of last season. Yet, he is one of the most creative players on his day and could hurt any side with his intelligence and passing ability. He has found some much-needed form in recent games – scoring and creating a combined four goals in the last six games in all competitions and his link-up play with Alexis Sanchez should be crucial to the Gunners breaking down the best defence in the division.
It’s probably the biggest North London Derby for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League era, given their fabulous record at home this season followed by a promising new future elsewhere. Going against the usual trend, I think Spurs will not ‘Spurs’ this.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal