It’s difficult to think of a time when there was a North London derby where there was more at stake. Fiercely fought at the best of times, the intensity at White Hart Lane will be ratcheted up further still.
Tottenham Hotspur’s six-match winning run in the Premier League was brought to an end with a 1-0 defeat at West Ham United on Wednesday night, a result that leaves them three-points shy of table-topping Leicester City.
Questions remain over Arsenal’s resolve after their 3-2 defeat away to a seriously under-strength Manchester United on Sunday and Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at home to a Swansea City team that was also far from full-strength. The same doubts about character can’t be said of a Tottenham team that has won 17-points from losing positions this season, more than any other Premier League club.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team was disappointing at the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday, but credit has to go to the Hammers for an excellent performance. Tottenham can be forgiven for a rare off night, but for Arsenal it’s becoming something of a habit. They’ve taken just nine-points from their last eight matches and are suddenly looking over their shoulder as even securing a top-four finish is starting to look anything but certain.
Were Arsenal to lose at White Hart Lane they would be six points adrift of their North London rivals and, depending on the leader’s result at Watford, potentially nine points adrift of Leicester. Were that to happen, you would have to think that their title hopes were dead in the water for yet another season. With their Champions League campaign already realistically over, it would leave just the FA Cup (and that could quite feasibly end at Hull City on Tuesday) and a top-four finish to play for.
To make matters worse, the Gunners will be without goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is ruled out with a groin injury, and Laurent Koscielny will again be absent with a calf injury. At the other end of the pitch, the poor form of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud must also be a major concern for Arsene Wenger.
A draw isn’t a great result for either team here and, as in midweek, Leicester could potentially be the big winners were these two to cancel each other out. Arsenal, in particular, need to go for all three points, so this game could really open up after the interval.