Sunday, January 6, 2008

Arsenal vs. Tottenham: Match Preview

Arsenal's arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur travel to the Emirates for the first leg of the Carling Cup semifinals on Wednesday to face the mighty Gunners for the third time this season.

Arsene Wenger has already defeated two of Juande Ramos' sides this season, including Sevilla in the Champions League before the Spaniard made the switch to North London. Arsenal have also completed the league double over their London rivals, winning 3-1 at White Heart Lane and 2-1 at the Emirates.

Spurs fans will take solace from the fact that Wenger always fields a younger lineup in the Carling Cup, but a 3-2 extra time win over Blackburn in the last round proved that even Arsenal's youngsters are a force to be reckoned with.

The game promises to be high scoring, as Tottenham fans have seen 23 goals in their last four matches and Arsenal have failed to hit the back of the net in only one of their 33 games this season.

This could prove to be a problem for both teams as a leaky Spurs backline and an inexperienced Gunners backline may mean that the game is decided on an error rather than a moment of brilliance.

However, the likes of Abou Diaby, Eduardo, and Nicklas Bendtner could win the game for Arsenal and Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane could do the same for Tottenham.

Arsenal are likely to field a lineup similar to the one that faced Blackburn last month, although Alex Song will miss the match on international duty with Cameroon.

Lukasz Fabianski will probably start in goal as the last line of defense behind Justin Hoyte, Philippe Senderos, Johan Djourou, and Armand Traore.

In the midfield Abou Diaby, Lassana Diarra, Neves Denilson may be joined by the more experienced Gilberto, although 18 year-olds Kieran Gibbs or Mark Randall.

Up front Eduardo and Nicklas Bendtner are likely to complete one of the most potent second-string lineups in the world. Both scored against Burnley on Sunday, and will be looking to prove their worth as Robin van Persie looks set to return against Birmingham on the weekend.

Any game against a Premier League side is tough, and Spurs will be looking to record a win over Arsenal this season after losing twice, but a gritty and determined young Arsenal squad should be able to pull out a 2-1 win, giving the team an advantage going into the second leg.