It’s another big fixture for Arsenal, in the final north London Derby at White Hart Lane.
14 points separate the two teams before kick-off and although the Gunners have a game in hand, bragging rights certainly seems bound Mauricio Pochettino’s way.
Despite that, there’s plenty potentially riding on this intriguing clash. Arsenal need a victory to keep their top-four aspirations alive (yes, this again). Tottenham are still in pursuit of league leaders Chelsea, so both have everything to play for – despite contrasting fortunes in recent months.
Arsène Wenger answered a range of different questions in his pre-match presser, regarding news updates, availability and rival clubs too.
“The uncertainty we have is about Koscielny. The news yesterday was quite positive, he has a 60% chance to be available,” Wenger revealed. The defender returned to full training on Saturday meaning he most likely will play against Tottenham:
Laurent Koscielny was in full training today pic.twitter.com/lLhlJMiswV
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) April 29, 2017
Wenger confirmed that Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) is still unavailable for another fortnight, which suggests he’ll continue with the same centre-back trio that was successful previously despite hinting that he’s yet to decide.
Once again, questions about his future at the club came up. Naturally, his reply highlighted just how importance this match is: “Before a game like this, it doesn’t cross my mind at all,” he stated.
Rob Holding has excelled when called upon this season and deservedly, praise has come his way from the boss. “I believe he has a great future because he’s very intelligent,” Wenger said.
On Arsenal’s rivals for a top-four spot this term, he said that United boss José Mourinho was wrong to say Manchester City are comfortably set for a third-placed finish.
“We do not have to speculate on who is in or not in. I don’t think the top 3 is decided. We have an opportunity to be in there, only if we win our games,” Wenger explained.
It’s likely that Wenger will stick with the same formation and very similar personnel.
Given his praise of Holding recently, it’s likely that he’ll give him a further opportunity to stake a claim for the long-term.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain offers more in attack and isn’t afraid to defend
Granit Xhaka was quietly excellent again against West Ham and it’s likely he’ll be playing alongside Aaron Ramsey, which would suggest Arsenal are not just content with a hard-fought draw, it’s imperative they win here.
Theo Walcott’s lacklustre performance on Wednesday has created doubt as to who should start in attack. Danny Welbeck should get another start, given how he offers more in his all-round game and Spurs’ backline will already have to deal with Alexis Sánchez’ blistering speed.
Possible XI (3-4-2-1): Čech; Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding; Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ox; Özil, Alexis; Welbeck
As for Sunday’s hosts, they don’t have too much to worry about with regards to injuries. Mousa Dembele (ankle) is set for a late fitness test and might only feature on the substitutes’ bench, which will be a noticeable absence from Spurs’ midfield.
The derby ultimately comes a week too soon for first-choice left-back Danny Rose, who has recovered from a lengthy knee injury but is not yet fit enough to play.
Harry Winks (ankle) and Erik Lamela (hip) are their only two first-team players sidelined for the remainder of this campaign.
Harry Kane will be eagerly hoping for opportunities to increase his goal-scoring tally of 20 League goals this season. Four behind Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot, he’ll be hoping to exploit any defensive weaknesses, made all the more smooth with the likes of Christian Erik’s end and Dele Alli creating key chances at will.
Spurs have the league’s best defensive record so it’ll be interesting to see who steps up, especially as Arsenal are not in a position to lose silly games.
Possible XI (3-4-2-1): Lloris: Alderweireld, Dier, Vertonghen; Walker, Wanyama, Sissoko; Davies; Alli, Eriksen; Kane.