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Tottenham To Do The Double Over Arsenal?

Arsenal will be looking to avoid three straight defeats when they host bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates on Sunday. Here is a match preview.

Guest post by Premiership Tips:

Arsenal will be looking to avoid three straight defeats when they host bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger’s side were eliminated from the FA Cup last weekend at the hands of Sunderland, whilst Tottenham’s draw at Stevenage ensured they moved into the quarter finals with a potential home tie with Bolton Wanderers. The North London side are the bookmakers favourites to lift the trophy.

10 days ago Arsenal went to the San Siro as 1 of 2 English sides remaining in this season’s Champions League. They came out well and truly beaten; 4-0 by the defending Italian champions.

It was 12 months ago that Arsenal’s 2010/11 season came crumbling down after all looked promising at the end of February. Still in with a chance of winning up to 4 trophies last season, Arsenal lost the Carling Cup final and were eliminated from both the Champions League and FA Cup in the space of a fortnight.

After losing at Wembley to Birmingham City, the wheels of Arsenal’s league form fell off as they won just 2 of their final 11 Premier League games. Are Arsenal set for another collapse between now and the end of the season?

Tottenham certainly have the quality to hand Arsenal a third successive defeat this weekend and complete the double over their North London rivals.

Emmanuel Adebayor missed last weekend’s FA Cup tie with a knee injury but is expected to be fit this wekeend. The ex-Arsenal striker has scored 10 Premier League goals this season, joint-top Spurs goalscorer with Gareth Bale. The Togolese has also setup 10 goals for his team mates this season. If there was ever a match the on-loan Manchester City player was motivated for, it’s this one. As he showed two seasons ago when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans after scoring at the City of Manchester Stadium as it was then known.

Gareth Bale was given another run out in a more central position against Stevenage last weekend. Personally, I prefer him wide left where he can take full backs on one-on-one, but his 10 league goals this season seem to have persuaded Harry Redknapp to try him in a more central role. With Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric likely to be fit for this game, I would expect Bale to be pushed out into his more experienced role on the left wing to run at Bakary Sagna.

Rafael van der Vaart has 7 goals to his name this season, although only once since the end of October when he scored 6 goals in 5 matches. The ex-Real Madrid play maker has scored 4 goals in his 3 previous meetings with the Gunners.

Arsenal’s counter to the support striker should be with Alex Song partnered by Aaron Ramsey and either Mikel Arteta or Tomas Rosicky in central midfield. One of the latter two a better fit to support Song in protecting the back four. Although neither pairing would give confidence of shutting down van der Vaart and Luka Modric for 90 minutes.

It’s Luka Modric who pulls the strings at White Hart Lane. And in their away games. Tottenham are desperate to keep hold of the Croatian playmaker who appears to have made a good decision in staying with Spurs than jumping ship to Chelsea as was widely expected during the summer transfer window. For a fourth successive season Modric has 3 Premier League goals to his name (with up to 13 games to set a personal best), but it’s his 89% pass completion rate and the quality of his passing that makes him one of the best players in the Premier League. As well as his awareness to move into space. No player has attempted more passes and crosses combined than Modric this season.

With all this attacking prowess, before mentioning Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon, Arsenal’s vulnerability has been their defence. On top of the 35 goals conceded this season, they headed into this game with a few defensive injuries and doubts.

Per Mertesacker, who has made 21 starts and missed just 1 Premier League game since making his debut in September following his summer transfer deadline day move to London, is absent with an ankle injury picked up in Arsenal’s last league game. Laurent Koscielny, who’s second only to Robin van Persie in minutes played amongst outfield players for Arsenal this season, is a big doubt following a knee injury picked up in last weekend’s FA Cup. Sebastien Squillaci who made his return in that FA Cup was also substituted and is also a doubt for this game.

With these injuries, there is a chance Johan Djourou could start in the centre of defence alongside Thomas Vermaelen. The Swiss international has looked poor in recent games and can only put fear into the fans’ minds should he be expected to shut out the likes of Adebayor and co in this game.

Tottenham are second favourites for this game but should not be ignored with their price currently at 2.96 on Betfair. Arsenal can be layed at 2.6.

You need to go back to the inaugural Premiership season of 1992/93 for the last time that Tottenham did the double over Arsenal in the league.

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