Arsenal Have a Superb Opportunity to Put Tottenham to the Sword

James McNicholasFeatured Columnist IVNovember 1, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01:  An Arsenal fans cheers his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 01, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

The North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham is always a closely fought affair. As Wenger told his press conference this morning, "Tottenham is a difficult ground to go to for everybody; we have good memories and bad memories." However, this time round Arsenal have a fantastic opportunity to do some real damage to their rivals. Spurs are on the ropes. The Gunners have a chance to deliver a knockout blow.

The past week has been severely dispiriting for Spurs. First, they were hammered 4-0 away to Chelsea. After the game, a furious Tim Sherwood laid into his team, telling Sky Sports:

Too many of them are too nice to each other. You need to show a bit more gut and not want to be someone's mate all the time and it can't always be me having a pop - they have to drag it out of each other. It hurts me.

Sherwood would have hoped for a response in the Europa League clash with Benfica. However, Spurs capitulated once again, losing 3-1 on the night and leaving them with a huge uphill task in the second leg.


LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Tim Sherwood the Tottenham manager directs his players during the Budweiser FA Cup match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on January 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Sherwood has the look of a dead man walking. His brief reign at Tottenham appears to be approaching a close, with The Guardian insisting that the experienced Louis Van Gaal is being considered as his replacement.

There is a mutinous atmosphere at White Hart Lane. If Arsenal can grab the first goal at White Hart Lane, the unsettled crowd could turn.

Arsenal need the points in order to give life to their ailing title challenge. It's worth remembering that, prior to an FA Cup quarter-final win and a creditable draw in Munich, Arsenal lost their last league game to Stoke.

Given the perilous fixture list that awaits Arsenal, and Tottenham's poor form, this is actually one of the Gunners' more winnable remaining games. If their focus is right, they have the quality to do the job.

Not everything is rosy at London Colney. Arsenal are experiencing something of an injury crisis in central midfield. Jack Wilshere has been joined by Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil on the treatment table, meaning the Gunners have been robbed of a wealth of creative talent.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Lukas Podolski of Arsenal celebrates scoring during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Given that, Santi Cazorla could well be shifted inside to conduct operations from the middle of the park. That could present another opportunity on the flank for Lukas Podolski. Podolski started and scored in the game against Munich, and is eager to carry that form into the Spurs game. He told

I've always liked derbies. When I played in Munich, or Cologne or even here in Arsenal I always liked derbies because there's a special atmosphere and it's a special fight.

We want to go there, get the three points and drive back home. This is important for us. We must fight for the club, for the fans and I think this is an important game so I look forward to Sunday now.

Podolski's left foot is famous for its lethal prowess. If he can find his range against Tottenham, it could deliver a hammer blow to Spurs' season.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.