The first Premier League fixture of the weekend sees Spurs host Arsenal at Wembley in the 198th North London Derby. The home side will be looking to put the disappointment of their two most recent results behind them with a win against their fiercest rivals at lunchtime on Saturday.
It has been a tough week for Mauricio Pochettino and his players after defeat to Burnley last Saturday and a loss away to Chelsea midweek. The prospect of suffering a third league defeat in a row for the first time since November 2012 at the hands of their biggest rivals will be all the motivation he needs to give his players ahead of the match.
The two defeats have also allowed Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United back in the hunt for third place in the Premier League and Spurs will be aiming to make the race for the top-four as hard as possible for their opponents behind them in the table. A win over Burnley would have closed the gap at the top of the Premier League to two points but Pochettino’s team are now nine points away from the top with five points separating them and Manchester United in fifth.
The return to Wembley will perhaps be a welcome one for Spurs because of their recent losses on the road. Before last week, Spurs had the best away record in the top five leagues in Europe and have won their last four matches at Wembley in all competitions. Victory over the Gunners on Saturday would mean they would be the first team to beat Arsenal at Wembley three times.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 1, 2019
Not only that, but Pochettino has never lost a home Premier League game to Arsenal and only one of the last sixteen meetings between the two teams has ended in defeat for the home side.
The visitors are in good form having won five of their past six Premier League games, which is as many as they had managed in their previous thirteen games. Their most recent victory was a resounding 5-1 victory over Bournemouth at the Emirates midweek.
However, their away form has not been good this season and Unai Emery’s side has lost three of their last four away matches in all competitions. In fact, they have only won two away matches since November which were against Blackpool in the FA Cup and relegation favourites Huddersfield. A victory would mean two away wins in a row but they have lost as many away matches as they have won so Spurs will be hoping that their poor form on the road continues.
Spurs v Arsenal Team News
Both players will be assessed ahead of tomorrow’s match. pic.twitter.com/LXBjCcek32
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 1, 2019
Spurs are sweating over the fitness of Jan Vertonghen and Harry Winks, with both carrying hip injuries. Pochettino confirmed in his press conference on Friday that they will be assessed ahead of their match, with Vertonghen’s presence against Chelsea on Wednesday being missed in particular.
The North London derby will come too soon for Eric Dier and Dele Alli. Dier is building up his conditioning following tonsillitis whereas Alli is in the latter stages of rehabilitation after picking up a hamstring injury against Fulham in January.
For Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny is a doubt after picking up an injury against Bournemouth on Wednesday. Alex Iwobi and Sead Kolasinac also picked up knocks in that game but neither player is thought to be a doubt for the match on Saturday.
Stephan Lichtsteiner, Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi could all return for the Gunners after they were rested against Bournemouth but Emery may not want to change the side that played so well. Mesut Ozil is also one player that could retain his place after scoring in his last outing and the manager has a big decision to make up front. Emery has to choose whether to go with one striker or two with both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang performing well last time out.
Spurs v Arsenal Predicted Lineup
It is difficult to predict the Spurs lineup and Pochettino’s plans may depend upon the fitness of Vertonghen. If fit, we think he will choose to go with three at the back, allowing the full-backs to get forward as much as possible on either side.
The back three would be of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Vertonghen with Hugo Lloris in goal behind them. Serge Aurier and Danny Rose are likely to come in after starting on the bench against Chelsea, deputising for Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies.
In midfield, Harry Winks should partner Moussa Sissoko in the centre. However, if he is not fit enough then that could see Christian Eriksen drop into a deeper role and give an opportunity for Lucas Moura to come back into the starting XI.
Erik Lamela is likely to drop to the bench but Harry Kane and Heung-min Son will almost certainly start at Wembley. It will be interesting to see which position Son plays in as Pochettino has the choice to use him on either flank or up front.
What the Managers Said
Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino
“Of course to motivate for this type of game is an easy job. We don’t need to motivate them. We know very well what it means to play against Arsenal. We know that we’re going to be very motivated and we’ll have a team in front that is very motivated too. We’ve played twice against them this season. One Premier League game at the Emirates that we lost, another in the Carabao Cup that we won. Of course it’s going to be tough, the third game of the season against Arsenal.”
“They have very good players, they are doing a very good job. Unai Emery is a great manager, I know him very well. Of course it’s going to be tough. Always a derby is tough, after my experience here in nearly five years every time that we played against Arsenal it was a very tough game.” (Football.London)
Arsenal Manager Unai Emery
“We’ve been speaking about the opportunity and each match gives us the opportunity to win three points.Sometimes we can take the big opportunity like tomorrow because there were 10 points difference between us and Spurs two weeks ago. Now it’s four points. Tomorrow we are going to play together and it’s very important for both teams. It’s very different if you win or lose.”
“This is a big opportunity for us to play with confidence in our moment, respecting them because they lost two matches but they are still having a very good season. We want to play with confidence and also free in our minds, with a focus on our game plan. All individuals can have this confidence.” (Football.London)
Spurs v Arsenal Referee
Match officials for #PL Matchweek 29 have been appointed (2-3 Mar)
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 25, 2019
Anthony Taylor will be the man in the middle on Saturday. He has refereed Spurs in two Premier League matches this season, against Fulham and Southampton at Wembley, with both ending 3-1 to Spurs.
Spurs v Arsenal Premier League Prediction
Arsenal are the team in the best form heading into the match but it is hard to ignore their recent results on the road. Although they have been poor in their last two outings in away matches, Spurs have looked very good at Wembley recently and so that will give them confidence in front of a packed out crowd.
It will be a frantic game played at a high tempo but we think Spurs will have the edge to end a poor week on a high. Our prediction is Spurs 2-1 Arsenal although it would not be a surprise if there were a lot more goals in the match.
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