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TWICE a season, these two bitter rivals square off in the North London Derby and each year, the excitement in the lead up to the big matches is palpable.
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs have a rich history of hatred that stems back over 100 years.
Many a fight has been fought between these two teams.
And so it is, again, that the pair – both in contention near the top of the English Premier League table, lock horns again.
The Gooners have not had a win in four starts against Tottenham. But Tottenham has not had a win in its past four English Premier League starts this campaign, four draws throwing a little shade on a stunning start to the season that featured four wins from their first five games.
The big news out of Tottenham is that manager Mauricio Pochettino hinted that star striker Harry Kane might be back on the park after a long injury absence.
“Wednesday 50 per cent and Sunday we will see,” Pochettino said when asked by the media about the reigning golden boot winner’s status after Tottenham’s dour draw with Leicester City on the weekend.
“We will see.
“Of course it’s important for Harry to come back. Harry is our main striker.
“We are very happy with Vincent (Janssen) but we brought him to share that position with Harry.”
It will be interesting to see if this is just smoke and mirrors, given Kane has been a thorn in the Gunners’ side in recent years.
“The reality is we need to be more clinical and score more.
“There are no worries about that but I think we are happy with the performance.
“They (Leicester City) had one shot and scored one goal.
“You need to win games and in the last few games we’ve had problems scoring goals.”
He’s not wrong, Spurs have just two goals in their last four games, the most recent coming in the weekend’s 1-1 draw with the Foxes.
Spurs went ahead just before half time when Janssen was brought down in the box by Robert Huth and he duly converted from the penalty spot to fire in his first Premier League goal.
But Tottenham came out slowly in the second half, allowing Jamie Vardy to penetrate the defence, cutting back for Ahmed Musa to fire in the equaliser.
The Gunners laid waste to lowly Sunderland, 4-1, an Alexis Sanchez brace coming either side of a double from the returning Olivier Giroud.
Nacho Monreal is expected to be fit for this encounter, although Kieran Gibbs could be forgiven for thinking he is a bit stiff, should Wenger decide to bring back the Spaniard in his place.
Gibbs had a solid, if not spectacular game against Sunderland and he is, at the very least, giving Monreal solid competition for a defensive wing role.
The big injury news for Arsenal is that mini midfield maestro Santi Cazorla should be back this week after a long layoff.
Possible team line ups
Arsenal: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Frances Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez
Tottenham: Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Dembele, Erik Lamela, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Heung Min Son
First goal scorer predictions
Alexis Sanchez ($5.50 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Coming off a brace against Sunderland, Sanchez ended a streak of three league games without a goal in emphatic fashion. While the Gunners do have a plethora of attacking options, and often it is a raffle, Sanchez will start up front and is the most dangerous of them all. Keep safe.
Toby Alderweireld ($41 with Sportsbet.com.au)
We don’t actually think Tottenham is going to score, so why not pick a roughie with a nose for goal. Alderweireld scored against the Gunners last campaign and, given Arsenal’s well known susceptibility against the set piece, the defender is a prime candidate to be a thorn in their side again at corners and free kick situations.
Match result: Arsenal to win ($2 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Correct match score: Arsenal top win 2-0 ($10 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Total match goals: Under 2.5 goals ($2.12 with sportsbet.com.au)
Bonus: Arsenal to win to nil ($3.75 with Sportsbet.com.au)
If Harry Kane was available, we might have been leaning a little bit closer to a draw in this one. But, the fact is, Tottenham simply has not been able to put the ball in the back of the net while their star striker has been on the injury rack. Two goals in the past four games is not a glowing endorsement, especially considering the teams they have been producing this against are nowhere near the class of Arsenal. The Gunners, on the other hand, can’t stop scoring. Aside from the nil all scoreless blip against Middlesbrough, the Gunners have fired in four, three, three and four goals in four of their last five matches. That’s some monster scoring and, given Petr Cech has been a goalkeeping monster in that period, we reckon they might just shut out Tottenham, while firing in two goals themselves. That leads us to the the under 2.5 goals, at a juicy $2.12, and it might even be worth having a flier on Arsenal to win to nil, at $3.75. If Kane comes back, it might be a different story, but we reckon he will be underdone and probably come off the bench, so we are sticking to our gun(ner)s here.
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