Thursday, December 20, 2007

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: Match Preview

League leaders Arsenal take on 12th place Tottenham in the second North London derby of the season as the Gunners try to stay clear of Manchester United.

Arsenal beat Spurs 3-1 at White Heart Lane after coming back from a goal deficit. Tottenham will be trying to get revenge this time around at the Emirates, but will have a tough time, with the Gunners on a fine run of form.

Arsene Wenger's team beat Chelsea last weekend and Blackburn midweek, capping off a remarkable run of games after having initially struggled following a loss to Sevilla. The Gunners, who are still undefeated at home, are also sporting a virtually clean bill of health, with Theo Walcott the only doubt.

Tottenham have also been playing well though, defeating Manchester City twice and Portsmouth once in their past three games. It seems that Juande Ramos' appointment may finally be having the correct effect.

Spurs are missing Gareth Bale, their goalscorer in the 3-1 loss at White Heart Lane, as well as Benoit Essou-Ekotto, but Anthony Gardner should be fit in time for Saturday. Ledley King could also see his first action in the Premier League after a long injury layoff.

Arsenal will field their full-strength lineup for the first time in quite a while this Saturday, and the team picks itself.

Manuel Almunia will start in goal, high on confidence after an impressive performance against Chelsea last week.

In front of him Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, and Gael Clichy will try to stop the likes of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov.

The Arsenal midfield, which should boss around Spurs in the center of the park, will include Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, and Alex Hleb.

Up front lanky Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor will be joined by his preferred strike partner Robin van Persie for the first time since the Dutchman picked up an injury on international duty with the Netherlands. The pair were prolific before van Persie's injury, and will be hoping to reach their prior form again on Saturday.

Although the return of Ledley King could plug a leaky Tottenham defense, a full-strength Arsenal side will be tough to deal with at home, and I can't see Spurs going home with any points. I say 2-0 to Arsenal.