Arsenal face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, in a clash that’s become a lot more interesting after the two teams’ respective results this week.
Whilst Arsenal had a couple of comfortable wins against Southampton and Bournemouth, Tottenham suffered defeats away to Burnley and Chelsea. Suddenly, Unai Emery’s side are just four points and four goals behind Spurs, having been 10 points behind less than a week ago.
A two-goal win for Arsenal this weekend could close the gap to one point and zero goal difference with nine matches still to play. Rather than fighting for the title, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are now battling just to remain in the top four.
Of course, the Gunners are in a top-four fight of their own, and a result this weekend would put them in a fantastic position for the rest of the season.
Unai Emery will presumably go as strong as possible for the derby game, though he may also have one eye on his suspension and injury situation ahead of the midweek trip to Rennes. Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.
Goalkeeper and Centre-Backs
Presumably, Emery used three at the back against Bournemouth in preparation for this game. Perhaps it also had something to do with the unavailability of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stephan Lichtsteiner, with Carl Jenkinson playing at wing-back deemed less of a risk than right-back.
Assuming the boss sticks with the same formation, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi are both available to start, but the third spot is a bit more of an unknown at this point. Emery suggested he hoped Laurent Koscielny would be fit for the clash, but if he isn’t then Nacho Monreal will likely take his place.
In goal, Bernd Leno will keep up his run of games ahead of Petr Cech.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
In midfield, Granit Xhaka will hopefully be back after illness, meaning he can return to the starting lineup. Lucas Torreira should start alongside him, as the duo have helped Arsenal to some of their best performances this season.
Matteo Guendouzi has played pretty well in general recently, but he was targeted by the Bournemouth players and forced into a mistake leading to a goal on Wednesday. It might be better to remove him from the limelight for such a crucial match to ensure he doesn’t have his confidence shattered.
In the wing-back positions, Sead Kolasinac is clearly Unai Emery’s first-choice on the left, but it really depends on whether the Bosnian is considered fit to start. He was taken off early against Bournemouth, but that was apparently just a precaution, so he should be back.
On the right, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been back in full training after illness for a few days now, and he should take Carl Jenkinson’s place. Stephan Lichtsteiner is another option, but he’s generally been preferred when Arsenal play a back four.
With Alexandre Lacazette’s suspension in the Europa League, he’s almost certain to start this one. That’s no bad thing either, considering he’s on a great run of scoring form. In fact, he’s Arsenal’s top scorer in 2019, and only behind Sergio Aguero for the entire league this year so far. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be available from the bench.
Behind him, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are the most likely choices. Mesut Özil played 90 minutes on Wednesday, so he’ll probably drop to the bench. Aaron Ramsey is available, but in this formation, it’s hard to see where he fits in.
Predicted Starting XI
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal Betting Tips
Alexandre Lacazette has five goals in his last six league games, and he scored the winner against Spurs earlier this season. Bet on Lacazette to score anytime with BetUK at 8/5.
Despite the 4-2 scoreline earlier this season, North London derbies haven’t had many goals in recent years, with only two of the last 15 seeing more than three. Bet on under 3.5 goals with BetUK at 1/2.
Tottenham haven’t drawn a single game this season. Bet on either team to win with BetUK at 2/7.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Arsenal (37/4 with BetUK).