Are you ready for the London derby?
Because both Tottenham and Arsenal are ready for this game. Beyond this being a battle between two heated rivals, the game also has serious repercussions for both the Premier League title and a top-four finish. Plus, both teams have struggled of late, so getting back on track against their chief rival would be a huge result.
And Spurs will certainly want some revenge, as Arsenal have won both meetings thus far this season—knocking Tottenham out of the FA Cup in the process—and three of the last four.
Will they have their revenge? Or will Arsenal travel to White Hart Lane and earn a huge win?
When: Sunday at noon ET (5 p.m. GMT)
Where: White Hart Lane, London
Odds: Tottenham (37.6 percent), Arsenal (35.6 percent) and draw (26.8 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
For Arsenal, injuries have become the biggest storyline. The Gunners will be without key contributors Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil for this contest, and Arsene Wenger has been forced to admit that the team will need to investigate why they've been so prone to injury.
Here are his comments, via Miguel Delaney of ESPN.com:
I am concerned that that happens. If you look at our overall injury list going into such a final decisive part of the season, we have no Wilshere, Walcott, Ozil, Ramsey.
We went to Bayern with no [Kieran] Gibbs or [Nacho] Monreal. Of course it is a concern. We are analysing very deeply why it happened to see if there is a link between these injuries.
Walcott, it is completely bad luck. Wilshere I don't think it is linked with the other injuries, it is linked more with his history and the kick he got. The rest maybe we have to find out why it happened.
Wenger did say that Monreal would be available for Sunday's match, however, while January addition Kim Kallstrom would be in the squad. Both of those revelations will give the Gunners a big boost heading into the match against Tottenham, as will the recent form of midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
He was the brightest Gunner against a tough Bayern Munich side, regularly giving their defenders fits with his pace and close control at full speed. He'll need to reprise that effort for a depleted Arsenal side.
For Spurs, well, everything is falling apart. They were quite good for a period against Chelsea but made error after error in the defensive third and eventually lost 4-0. They followed that up with a poor showing, at home, against Benfica in the Europa League, losing 3-1.
Spurs have now lost four times in their last six games in all competitions and have picked a poor time to start struggling.
They are seemingly without an identity, a clear starting 11 and that one player who can pick up his teammates and drag them to victory. The loss to Benfica was indicative of the larger issues at White Hart Lane, as John Crace of ESPN.com writes:
Spurs were outthought, outfought, outpaced and outplayed by a very good Benfica side and were comprehensively defeated 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Had the Portuguese side been a little bolder in the first half and realised just how fragile the home team was, then the scoreline might have been even worse. There is nothing to play for in the second leg in Lisbon next week.
Sherwood started with a 4-4-2 formation—with Harry Kane, rather than Roberto Soldado, partnering Emmanuel Adebayor upfront. Unfortunately the attacking intent did not come with any great technical or creative flair and the two strikers were easily contained. For much of the game, Spurs' sole attacking option was the long ball hoofed forwards towards: it was all too predictable and all too easily contained.
Throughout the game, Benfica were quicker to the ball, quicker to release it and quicker to run into space.
That's not a good sign heading into a game with an Arsenal side, which, for all of their injury woes, are aggressive to the ball and still one of England's most technically proficient clubs.
Neither Adebayor nor Paulinho has played well of late. Soldado and Christian Eriksen have been devalued by manager Tim Sherwood, whose tactics and 4-4-2 formation have justifiably been questioned of late.
And while Spurs don't have to deal with the severity of Arsenal's injuries, they will be without Michael Dawson, Etienne Capoue, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches, while Kyle Walker and Mousa Dembele could also miss the contest, according to the Daily Mail.
Still, despite their poor form of late, Spurs have kept four clean sheets in their last five home matches in the Premier League, with a big win over Everton in that mix.
However, they also lost 5-1 against Manchester City in that spell, which should give Arsenal confidence. Tottenham also lost 5-0 against Liverpool at White Hart Lane in December, so it's safe to say the stadium hasn't been an impenetrable fortress for the club this year.
For all of the talk about Arsenal's shaky form of late and injury issues, the team did just travel to Germany and leave with a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich, the hottest team in Europe outside of Real Madrid. That result counts for something.
Arsenal won't be at their strongest against Spurs, but a side consisting of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, among others, still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Needing to stay close in the title race, the Gunners will be desperate to steal a win against their rivals.
They'll do just that. Arsenal win, 2-1.
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