Arsenal and Tottenham meet at The Emirates on Saturday lying in 7th and 8th respectively, both win-less in their last two Premier League games. Arsenal showed their ability in a belief-defying League Cup tie at Reading, battling from 4-0 down to win 7-5 after extra time, but produced a performance at Old Trafford that at best could be called lacklustre and have thrown away two-goal leads against Schalke and Fulham in their two games since.
One can only hope the Gunners have been shocked into form against this latest real challenge. Only a solid 90 minutes will do. Spurs most recently faced the challenge of Manchester City, in an attempt to recover from a home defeat to Wigan, but despite a half-time lead against the visiting champions, City’s second half onslaught was enough to overcome Andre Villas-Boas’ side, who will be regretting their decision to play conservatively rather than press their advantage. Both sides come into the game under pressure and in dire need of a win, and the two sets of attacking players on display should make for goals. Emmanuel Adebayor failed to make a significant impact against Manchester City, and will be even more determined against another of his former clubs, if given the chance ahead of Defoe.
Arsenal have leaked 12 goals in their last four games, but can call on Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, returning from suspension, to pick through their rivals’ back four. Arsenal will look as ever to hold possession but will have to be wary of Spurs’ pace on the counter-attack, especially as they will likely play with Mikel Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla as a midfield trio, none of whom is a naturally holding player. The presence of the departed Alex Song and the injured Abou Diaby will be missed, but Spurs will be forced to assess knocks sustained to Kyle Walker, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon in their defeat to Manchester City.
This is a fixture that has brought several goal-fests in recents seasons, and the fact that its competitors are sitting closer to the middle than the top of the table will only add the sense of desperation for victory. Andre Villas-Boas still has a lot of proving to do as a manager in this country, and Arsene Wenger, while his decade-long tenure of Arsenal leaves him in a far more stable position, will still be anxious to condemn his side’s neighbours to eighth and begin a climb up the table. A top-four finish is more than a hope for both Arsenal and Spurs, it is an expectation, and this meeting begins a vital period in the increasingly congested and frantic build-up to Christmas; this match-up will be as frosty as ever but should be a cracker.
Author: Freddie Mickshik