Arsenal vs Spurs: 5 Predictions for the North London Derby
The North London derby is back, as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will face off this Sunday at White Hart Lane in what will surely be 90 minutes filled with intensity, controversy and hopefully, goals.
When these two teams last met back in November at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal battered their rivals 5-2—and the time before that, well, Arsenal also won 5-2. Yeah, that's the craziness of the North London derby for you.
Here are five predictions for Sunday's game.
1. Gareth Bale Will Open the Scoring
You'd be hard pressed to find a footballer currently in better form than Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale.
In his last six matches in all competitions, the Welshman has scored eight goals, most of which have been spectacular. In Spurs' Europa League win over Olympique Lyon, Bale scored two stunning free kicks to carry his team to a 2-1 victory.
Just recently, his brace against West Ham in a 3-2 Premier League win saw him score a 30-yard screamer in the 90th minute to seal all three points.
For Arsenal supporters, the prospect of Bale coming up against a shaky Arsenal defense is truly terrifying. With Carl Jenkinson likely to play at right back in the absence of Bacary Sagna, it could be a long 90 minutes for the 21-year-old.
With the type of form Bale has been in, it's hard to see him not scoring.
There Will Be a Red Card
The intensity of the North London derby means players fight for every 50-50 ball, whether it's in their own penalty box or in the middle of the pitch, like their life depends on it.
Back in November, it was Emmanuel Adebayor's red card that changed the course of the game. Although that was just Adebayor being Adebayor, last February Scott Parker was given marching orders late on after receiving a second yellow, so it's clear that the heat turns up a notch when Arsenal and Spurs clash.
When it comes to derbies, players tend to lose their heads and become reckless, so I'm predicting Sunday's match at White Hart Lane to be no different. Expect an early bath for someone, whether it's a straight red card or two yellows.
Jack Wilshere Will Be the Man of the Match
When Jack Wilshere finally returned from his 15-month injury nightmare, there were questions about whether or not he would be able to pick up where he left off.
Thankfully, Wilshere has been no short of brilliant since his return, showing the same passion and drive that made him Arsenal's best player of the 2010-11 season and the PFA Young Player of the Year prior to his injury.
It's players like Wilshere, a guy who simply loves Arsenal Football Club, that the North London derby is built for. This match has his name written all over it, and he more than anyone else on the teamsheet knows what this match means.
The 21-year-old has arguably been Arsenal's most influential player in the past few months, and I'm expecting him to give an even classier performance than usual against the Gunners' fierce rivals.
At Least Five Goals Will Be Scored Between the Two Sides
Few people would disagree with me when I say that the North London is the most entertaining match to watch in England.
As if two 5-2's aren't enough, the two sides met in arguably one of the most exhilarating matches in the history of the Premier League in their 4-4 draw at the Emirates Stadium in 2008—and don't expect that to change on Sunday.
With the amount of attacking talent that'll be on the pitch in the likes of Santi Cazorla, Bale, Theo Walcott and Moussa Dembele, there should be some eye-catching football on display and plenty of goals to show for it.
Neither side will settle for any less than a win as they each look to prove themselves as the top dog in North London. In the spirit of the North London derby, expect goals galore.
The Winner Will Finish Higher in the Table
With both teams in the hunt for a top four spot, more than pride is on the line on Sunday.
Third place Spurs will look to extend their lead in the table over Arsenal to seven points, a gap that would be extremely difficult, but not impossible, for the Gunners to close.
Meanwhile, fifth place Arsenal will look to close the gap on their rivals down to just one point, and a win would take them to four in a row and all the momentum heading into the final third of the season.
It's Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea who are the big three teams competing for those third and fourth place spots. It could be Arsenal and Spurs who both seal Champions League qualification for next season with Chelsea missing out, but the ultimate bragging rights lie with which team finishes higher.
Arsenal haven't finished below Spurs since 1995, but could that all change come May?
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