Tottenham v. Arsenal
White Hart Lane
Robin. RvP. van Persie. ROBIN VAN PERSIE!
I swear if you didn't know better and only listened to the news, you'd think Arsenal was traveling the six kilometers up the road with only one player on the team coach. van Persie has been out since November, so there will be at least 11 more important Arsenal players than him.
Anyways, moving onto the match itself, there really isn't much to say. I suppose that is why all the talk have been about RvP. It'll be a typical full-blooded encounter, especially with Sol returning to the Lane for the first time in red & white since October 2005. Obviously whoever bounces back from their respective cup heartache will prevail. Hopefully the extra days off will work in Arsenal's favour.
Why is it before every NLD, whoever happens to be managing Tottenham always feels the need to compare the lilywhites to Arsenal? The jealousy isn't helping that twitching problem.
Mr. Harry Redknapp had this to say: 'When everyone is fit we have a squad that can match Arsenal.' said
'At the start of the year, who would have seen us fourth, compared to the likes of Liverpool and Man City with their resources? It shows the massive strides we've made.'
'It's been massive progress this year. We're much closer to Arsenal now and we'll be even closer next year. We've got players who are improving and can only get better.'
You have to applaud the man on his flawless logic. Only Spurs have injuries and can improve from season to season.
Spurs Team News:
Tottenham captain Ledley 'Cesc just nutmegged me' King could make a return to the Spurs lineup for the first time in seven-week. Wilson Palacios starts a two match ban for yellow card accumulation, while Lennon, Jenas, and Kranjcar have been ruled out through injury as well. Cudicini, Rose and Woodgate are long term absentees.
Possible Starting XI: Gomes, Walker, King, Dawson, Bale, Bentley, Huddlestone, Kaboul, Modric, Defoe, Crouch
Player to watch: Jermain Defoe
Defoe has something Spurs were desperately missing at the Grove in October, pace. If Harry goes ahead and pairs Crouch with Defoe again, we will need Campbell to be tight on the giant and Vermaelen to stay on Defoe.
Arsenal Team News:
If you haven't heard yet, Robin van Persie will return to the bench for this match. Shocking, I know! The Dot com has been playing up his return with a picture special. The news has been awfully slow since the defeat in Catalonia.
In other injury news, Song will miss this match and the one against Wigan on Sunday. Hopefully he can return in time for the visit of Man Citeh. Arshavin will also be unavailable for another couple of weeks. Gallas, Fabregas, Djourou, Gibbs, and Ramsey are long term absentees.
Predicted Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Campbell, Vermaelen, Clichy, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Walcott, Eboue, Bendtner
Player to watch: Denilson & Eboue
With Lennon and Kranjcar out, Tottenham will rely on Luka Modric for creative impulses. If Denilson plays physical with the miniature Croatian, then I feel we won't have too much trouble in this match.
Emmanuel Eboue will also play a big role. At halftime of this match last season, I yelled at my television 'I hope Eboue never plays for Arsenal again'. It was a heat of the moment thing, but I meant it at the time. Not only was his stupid sending off frustrating, but he had been our best player so far, so that made his moronic decision that much harder to take. A year and some change later, through hard work and determination, Eboue has earned a place in the heart of every Gooner. At random times in my day, I find myself humming 'Emmanuel Ebouueeee, Emmanuel Ebouueee!'. His energy on the left wing will be crucial, especially if Tottenham fade late on.
Match Facts & Stats
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last eight league matches, earning 22 points out of a possible 24. (Birmingham, arghh!)
Arsenal have scored a stoppage-time winner in three of their last six league matches.
Tottenham have only conceded 10 league goals at home this season, fewer than any other club in the division.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 20 Premier League meetings with Tottenham. It is the Gunners' joint longest top-flight unbeaten run against another team - they also went 20 matches without defeat against Huddersfield Town from April 1928 to September 1937.
Mark Clattenburg will be the head official in N17 tonight.
Every year that Tottenham doesn't beat us makes the next year's NLDs 10 times as nerve-racking for myself. They will break the streak eventually. I don't think it will be tomorrow, but anything can happen in these games. A draw is no good for us, just like in 1971. We need a win, and three points will also begin the St. Totteringham's day festivities. I hope we'll be celebrating come 10 o'clock tomorrow.
3-1 to the Arsenal. Bendtner, Diaby, and Sol Campbell with the Gunner goals. I wonder what odds I could get on that?!
18/4 (Sun) - Wigan (a) - Premier League
24/4 (Sat) - Manchester City (h) - Premier League