It is of course the north London derby on Saturday, but we’ve never seen one quite like this.

Spurs could go top of the league after August for the first time since 1985 and  would effectively knock Arsenal out of the title race with a win. Just a few weeks ago the Gunners were in a superb position, but consecutive Premier League defeat have knocked confidence.

On Wednesday you could feel the tension at the Emirates Stadium as panic set in and swept all of Islington, starting in the stands and putting itself on the pitch. Maybe playing away from home could be an unlikely aid for these Arsenal players on Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately Spurs genuinely believe they’re going to win the league this season; the home fans will be loud, supportive, relentless. Arsenal need to score first.

Press Conference

Facing the media on Friday, Arsène Wenger was happy to play down the importance of Saturday’s huge match, insisting the title race wouldn’t be over even if Arsenal lost at White Hart Lane.

After admitting the dressing room was deflated on Wednesday, Wenger said Thierry Henry can’t judge how angry fans are and said the team is 98% right at the moment.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Arsene Wenger Manager of Arsenal stands dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium on March 2, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Arsenal badly need to lift their heads up after a horrible week. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The boss also wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not this season would be even more of a disaster should Tottenham win the league rather than anyone else. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

Team News

Petr Čech is out for three to four weeks after pulling his calf running back from a late corner on Wednesday evening. Laurent Koscielny will also miss Saturday afternoon, so Gabriel is likely to start again.

Other than that, no news! Will the boss go for Joel Campbell again? Will Danny Welbeck or Theo Walcott come back into the side? Will David Ospina ruin everything? There’s no way of knowing yet.

Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Welbeck, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.

The Opposition

So, Spurs are really good. The best they’ve been since the 1980s, possibly the best shot they’ve had at the league since they last won it in 1961, and they probably have their finest manager since then too.

Smart in possession and playing with a very structured pressing system to win the ball back, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are smart and have bullied there way into the title race. The obvious danger man is Harry Kane, but Dele Alli has been excellent all season and Christian Eriksen is performing more consistently now. In the past Arsenal have really struggled against Pochettino’s pressing game, and will have to find a way to work around it his weekend.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal signals as Mauricio Pochettino manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Capital One Cup third round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on September 23, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Arsenal came out on top at White Hart Lane earlier this season, winning 2-1 in the third round of the League Cup. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Alli should be back after sitting on the bench in the midweek defeat to West Ham, but Mousa Dembele faces a late fitness test.

Possible XI: Lloris; Walker, Wimmer, Alderweireld, Rose; Dier, Mason; Lamela, Alli, Eriksen; Kane.


This really is a title decider. Arsenal have been inconsistent all season, Spurs have gathered momentum and are arguably the most consistent team in the Premier League now (Aston Villa are consistently dross, that doesn’t count).

Defeat this weekend would put Arsenal six points behind Spurs, and the Gunners could find themselves nine points from the top by the time Leicester City have played. A win would be a massive morale boost, one which is needed beyond belief right now.

There have been huge north London derbies in the past, but it’s hard to think of one with as much riding on it as this one.