Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Friday September 14 2007
White Hart Lane
It's that time already folks. Arsenal V Spurs, Wenger V Jol, the team from South London V the team from Middlesex, it's The North London Derby. (Work that one out?)
Arsenal will travel to the Lane full of confidence after enjoying such a productive start to the season, while watching their smaller neighbours enjoy a less than encouraging start.
Be not fooled by the form of either side, this kind of game is not always about form or talent. If it were, Arsenal could win every North London Derby with 9 men, with their feet tied together, and with blindfolds on...and without a 'keeper. But no, it's not always about that, so don't be suprised to see Spurs pull a goal or 2 out of the hat.
Despite what I've just mentioned, I think it's only right we take a brief look at the form of the two sides.
Spurs have played 5 games to date, winning only one of them (a 4-0 home win against the worst team to have played in the Premiership - Derby). Three defeats and a draw have seen Spurs fighintg for 14th place in the Premiership, as oppose to the 4th they would have us believe they will achieve this season. We saw the most typical of Spurs performances during the last of Premiership games when they took a 3-1 lead away to Fulham, only to throw it away (3-1, and you fucked it up).
Arsenal on the other hand, have been getting the results they deserve, and winning games that last season, they would have drawn. The Gunners have more victories in all competitions than Spurs have managed points in the Premiership.
If you believe the tabloid talk, then Martin Jol's job is in the balance going into this game. If Tottenham win, he'll once again be a hero at Three Point Lane, lose, and he could be out of a job.
Wenger, on the other hand, has confirmed that he'll be with The Arsenal until at least 2011 after signing an extention to his current deal. Arsenal players are already coming out and speaking of the extra bit of unity that
Martin Jol proved how much of a genius he is by not only pointing out that Spurs haven't recorded a victory of The Gunners in 9 years, and that his side are in need of some points: 'It's not only getting above Arsenal it's beating them. That would be a nice thing, because we've not beaten them for nine years.
'The main thing for us is getting points on the board. We have to change things. We're in a position we don't like and we have to improve on that.
'There is not a big gap so if we get the win we'll be fine.'
Arsene Wenger revealed that he never had any doubt he would sign a new deal at Arsenal. Speaking to Sky Sports News the Arsenal manager said: 'I am more committed than ever to do well for the club and I want to go very far with this team because I have strong belief in the players that I work with at the moment.
'There was some scepticism among people but I have always had strong belief in these players.
'You always wonder 'can you do well enough for the club' and you also have to think what kind of orientation you want to give to your life, because at every stage of your career you have to make choices about which way you want to go.
'So you think about it but there was never really any doubt.'
Tottenham welcome back a host of names ahead of Arsenal's visit to 'The Lane.'
Dawson will return after making his comeback against Fulham two weeks ago, Lennon has been in training for a week, so should start, Ekotto also returns along with Tottenham's record signing, Darren Bent.
Pascal Chimbonda is likely to play, despite being arrested during a corruption inquiry on Monday.
The only player missing for Spurs is likely to be the forgotten man that is Ledley King.
The only top class player at Spurs, so I could choose no one else.
He is yet to find his shooting boots this season, but class is permanant and all that. If Gilberto slots into that Centre back role, he'll need to keep those long balls at bay.
Arsenal welcome back one player from injury in the form of Bacary Sagna.
There are, however, some serious problems in defence. With Djourou out on loan, Gallas injured and Senderos suspended, Arsenal are left with just one fit centre back for the trip up the road. Gilberto is likely to drop back from midfield to compensate, meaning there is a space up for grabs next to Cesc Fabregas in centre midfield. Diarra could get his first taste of proper football in The Premiership, although it's more likely that Flamini will slot in to hassle Tottenham's more creative midfiel...oh sorry, my bad.
Manu Eboue will also be missing with his troublesome ankle injury.
Jens Lehmann is once again 'injuted' after suffering an elbow injury while on international duty.
Spurs' defensive pairing of Dawson and Kaboul may be towering and powerful, but neither will like a player like Eduardo. He will be forever moving in the box, making him nigh impossible to mark, while his lethal finishing will pose a threat whenever he is on the pitch.
Tottenham have managed just one clean sheet in their last 33 Premiership matches.
It's not all bad for Tottenham though, they've lost just one of their last 18 home games - the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Everton last month
Arsenal haven't lost a game since April 7th when they lost 1-0 at home to West Ham
Arsenal have already been awarded 3 penalties this season, scoring 2 of them
I had a dream that Arsenal won 6-7, but that's too outrageous.
I always worry a bit when we go to The Lane, so I'm going to go for a 1-1 draw.
Eduardo to score for Arsenal, Bent for Spurs.
Likely line ups:
Spurs: (4-4-2) Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Bale, Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque, Keane, Berbatov.
Arsenal: (4-4-2) Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gilberto, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky, Van Persie, Eduardo.
Those Arsenal fans who are making their way to White Hart Lane should take care, most Spurs fans tend not to be welcoming when we're there.
And as Danny Dyer says: 'They've got a naughty little firm.'
Date:Friday September 14 2007
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