Arsenal v. Tottenham
It has been 9 years and 51 weeks since Tottenham jumped on top of Arsenal early at White Hart Lane, with two goals on their first two shots of the match. Vieira got us back into it, but two second half red cards let Spurs kill off the match. Not losing to your closest rivals in practically a decade really is a remarkable feat. Credit should go to Arsene Wenger for this, and I would go as far to say that this achievement is as great as The Invincibles or either of the doubles.
Moving onto tomorrows match. Both teams come off of a disappointing weekend result and an impressive midweek victory over Merseyside opponents. The Arsenal players should be more rested than their neighbours because, even though the Tottenham bench is 'stronger' than Arsenals, Spurs still needed to play their starters to see off Everton. Anywho, with stakes so high in the league, this promises to be a classic affair.
Quick Vital Quotes:
Arsene Wenger had this to say on the 'equality' of Arsenal and Tottenham's squad: 'I don't share that opinion. It's only an opinion and what is good about our job is that it's about performances not opinions. I believe the most important thing is what happens on the football pitch.'
'Our supporters will have their opinion and the Spurs players will have their opinions - that's part of the game, but the only thing that's important is the quality of our performance against Spurs. I'm happy with the players we have and I don't compare them with Spurs. I've got belief in my own players.'
Arsenal Team News:
The biggest news is the lack of news regarding who will start in goal. After the Liverpool game, I expected that Fabianski would retain his spot, but after suffering a mysterious thigh strain, the Pole is out for 3 to 4 weeks. This leaves Almunia and Mannone. In my opinion, the Spaniard is a better keeper and should start, but keeping him on the bench for the West Ham match was one game too far. So I would expect Mannone to start come Saturday.
Besides Fabianski, there is no new injury news to report. Denilson, Rosicky, Djourou, Wilshere, and Walcott are all still out, but Samir Nasri will return to the bench.
Predicted Starting XI: Mannone, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Fabregas, Bendtner, Arshavin, van Persie
Player to watch: Gallas and Vermaelen
With Defoe suspended, Peter Crouch will start alongside Robbie Keane. This will be Gallas and Vermaelen's biggest test, as a partnership, so far. We have a terrible defensive record against him, and if I was a betting man, I would have to put something on him getting at least one.
Tottenham Team News:
Defoe, dos Santos, Modric, and Aaron Lennon are all out for Harry. Woodgate and King are listed as probable, but from what I've read, some Spurs fans wouldn't be surprised to see Dawson and Bassong keep their place in the centre of the defence.
Possible Starting XI: Gomes, Corluka, Woodgate, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Huddlestone, Palacios, Kranjcar, Crouch, Keane
Player to watch: David Bentley
With the world's fastest penguin out injured, David Bentley will get a rare start. He will play a fantastic game, and then disappear for the rest of the season.
Match Facts & Stats
Arsene Wenger is gunning for his 1000th league point in England. He currently has 997 Premier League points.
The Gunners have dropped only four points from a possible 30 in their last 10 Premier League home meetings with Spurs.
A league high of 12 different nationalities have scored for Arsenal this season.
Tottenham have scored nine goals in their last three matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
Mark Clattenburg will be the head official for this match.
The 145th league North London derby will be a fantastic encounter, unless the early kickoff sucks some spunk out of the match. I will go with a 4-2 win for the Arsenal. I don't care about the irony of the scoreline. Spurs will score, but we'll be able to outscore them.
4/11 (Wed) - AZ Alkmaar (h) - Champions League
7/11 (Sat) - Wolverhampton (a) - Premier League
21/11 (Sat) - Sunderland (a) - Premier League
The match will be on Sky in England and ESPN2 in the States. Have a good weekend everyone. Common Arsenal!!