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    Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview

    By Tom Regan

    Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side currently possess the longest unbeaten record in the Premier League, but a stern test waits as they take the short trip to The Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon to face bitter North London rivals Arsenal in what is expected to be a mouth-watering encounter.

    The Gunners have already clocked up a victory against Spurs this term, winning a Capital One Cup meeting 2-1, as both managers rested a number of star names. However, the Lilywhites were undefeated against Arsene Wenger’s club last campaign, securing a 1-1 draw away from home, before triumphing 2-1 at White Hart Lane.

    There may be no better time for Tottenham to face their rivals. Arsenal were slaughtered 5-1 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but more worryingly, they have a mounting injury list.

    The right hand side is a real issue for the Gunners, with Aaron Ramsay, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott all on the sidelines, so Joel Campbell is likely to continue in that role. Right Back Hector Bellerin is a major doubt, so Mathieu Debuchy is on standby.
    Debuchy was a consistent performer at Newcastle, but has struggled to find his feet after an injury-hit first campaign. This season has seen the French international only make a handful of appearances, and in those games he has looked vulnerable on the ball and lacked pace, so Spurs may target him, with Danny Rose always looking to surge forward and support the attack.

    Who plays on the left side of defence remains to be seen, but the fact Ben Davies started for the Lilywhites in their 2-1 Europa League victory over Anderlecht strongly suggests that Danny Rose will get the nod.

    It will be interesting to see where Christian Eriksen plays. Often used in a drifting left-sided role, Pochettino may decide to attack Debuchy’s defensive frailties with a more direct player, and perhaps switch Eriksen to the number 10 role. The options are boosted by the return of Son Heung-min who made a strong return from injury against Anderlecht, setting up Mousa Dembele’s late winner.
    Tottenham have a settled team of late. Pochettino has mostly kept an unchanged defence in league games this season, whilst youngsters Dele Alli and Eric Dier have forged a formidable partnership in front of the back four. Mousa Dembele has been in top form since coming back into the lineup, reflected by goals in three consecutive games for the club.

    Kane's season started slowly, but with four goals in his last two Premier League games, he is now oozing with confidence and looks like he will kick on and finish the campaign with a solid goal tally.
    Arsene Wenger could be boosted by the return of defensive lynchpin Laurent Koscielny, and it will be interesting to see who makes way for the centre back. Gabriel may just edge it after Per Mertesacker’s abysmal performance in Munich.

    Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla continue to boss proceedings in the centre of the park, while Mesut Ozil has finally added consistency to his game. Alexis Sanchez’s battle against Kyle Walker could be crucial. Walker has improved considerably in a positional sense, and if he can nullify the threat of the Chilean, the Lilywhites will feel they can cause an upset. However, many a fine player has failed to struggle with Sanchez’s speed and skill.

    Arsenal have an exceptional record at home when it comes to the North London Derby, tasting defeat just once in the last 20 meetings. They have been in superb form of late in the Premier League, which sees them positioned in second place on 25 points. They have won five in a row, finding the net 16 times in the process, scoring on at least two occasions in each of those games. How they respond to the humiliating defeat in Munich remains to be seen, and Tottenham will be doing all they can to ensure the week does not get any better for Wenger’s team.
    Spurs are also plodding along nicely in the league, just five points adrift of the Gunners, and their only defeat this term came at Old Trafford in week one. Harry Kane is back in the goals after a slow start, and scored both goals in the 2-1 win over their north London rivals at White Hart Lane last season. The Lilywhites still boast the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League (10 games) and have only lost two of their last ten on the road.

    Betting Odds (bet365)
    Arsenal: 8/11
    Draw: 3/1
    Tottenham: 4/1

    Match Prediction
    This is an almighty tough game to call because both sides are in great form in the Premier League. Arsenal are scoring freely, but Tottenham’s defence is highly organised and has improved greatly as the campaign has gone on. Spurs will not want their unbeaten run to come to end in this type of fixture, and I believe they can pick up a point just like they did here last season. A score draw for me.

    Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (7/1 with bet365)
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    Item Reviewed: Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Tom Regan
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