Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal – 12:45pm local time on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at White Hart Lane
Tottenham – $2.45 at WilliamHill.com
Draw – $3.40 at Bet365.com
Arsenal – $3 at Sportsbet.com
Tottenham – 2nd
Arsenal – 3rd
Premier League form
Tottenham – W W W W L
Arsenal – D W W L L
Last five EPL meetings
Arsenal 1-1 Spurs
Spurs 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-1 Spurs
Spurs 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-0 Spurs
BOTH Tottenham and Arsenal spurned golden opportunities to close the gap on Leicester City in midweek.
Spurs were done by a very capable West Ham United outfit at Upton Park, with Michail Antonio heading home early for the only goal of the game.
That ended a run of six consecutive victories for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who sit three points shy of the table-topping Foxes.
It was also their first defeat away from White Hart Lane since losing 1-0 to Manchester United on the opening day of the 2015-16 English Premier League season.
If they had beaten West Ham, the Lilywhites would be top heading into their blockbuster derby date with Arsenal.
Even a loss this weekend would see Tottenham keep hold of second spot, as the Gunners’ shock defeat to Swansea City on Wednesday night leaves them three points and a fair chunk of goal difference behind their arch-rivals.
Arsenal took an early lead when Joel Campbell finished coolly after a superbly timed run, but goals to Wayne Routledge and Ashley Williams saw the relegation-threatened Swans claim three invaluable points away from home.
The last two months have followed an all-too-familiar pattern for Arsene Wenger’s mob, who have mustered only two wins from their last eight Premier League matches.
While they remain in third spot with a four-point buffer on fourth-placed Manchester City, back-to-back losses have left them six points short of a Leicester side which was supposed to have crumbled by now.
Wenger admitted after the loss to Swansea that his charges were in low spirits, although he suggested they were unfortunate not to have received more reward for their efforts on the night.
“I think it is a very unlucky defeat,” the Arsenal manager told the press.
“Because we created many chances, and we were unlucky in our finishing. They had two shots on target and two goals.
“It’s a very disappointing game, and the players are very down. But we have to respond to that.”
When asked if the players were short on confidence, Wenger added: “It looks like it a little bit.
“We have to focus on our job, and remind ourselves that we have some quality as well. And of course analyse it well, and bounce back.
“We have a big game in three days again.”
Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League title since 2004, and pundits continue to question their apparent inability to close out campaigns after promising starts.
Regarding the Gunners’ chances of picking up silverware this season, Wenger said: “At the moment I am more worried about our results, we just lost three games.
“That is always a very difficult moment for the team. So at the moment we don’t dream. We have to be realistic and come back to what we do well, and do the basics.
“We will not talk about the title tonight. I am not in the mood to do that tonight.”
Tottenham team news
Pochettino shuffled the deck for the short trip to West Ham, leaving Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker out of the first 11. All four are in the mix to reclaim their starting spots this weekend.
Mousa Dembele was absent in midweek due to a groin-related injury, but the Belgian midfielder is expected to be available for Arsenal’s visit.
Jan Vertonghen is out until April as he recovers from a knee ligament injury, while young winger Clinton N’Jie won’t be available until the middle of March.
Possible Spurs XI: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose, Dier, Mason, Lamela, Alli, Eriksen, Kane.
Arsenal team news
As if going down to Swansea wasn’t insult enough, the Gunners also lost Petr Cech to injury after he strained a muscle while contesting a corner kick.
The veteran Czech goalkeeper is not expected to recover in time for derby day at the Lane, in which case back-up glovesman David Ospina will make a rare start between the posts.
French centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who is dealing with a calf problem, will also miss out.
Possible Arsenal XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez, Giroud.
– Tottenham to win ($2.45 at William Hill)
– Correct score 2-1 ($9 at CrownBet.com)
You could hardly set a better scene for a Spurs-Arsenal derby.
Besides the fact they are sitting second and third in the Premier League standings, both will be desperate to make amends for their disappointing displays in midweek.
The question is: who will hold their nerve and bounce right back when it matters most?
We have seen Arsenal stumble all too often at this stage of the season over the last decade or so, and the absence of Cech and Koscielny at the back will make it very hard for them in front of a hostile White Hart Lane crowd.
This is rarified air for Spurs, but Pochettino’s young, vibrant squad has shown maturity and class beyond its years up to this point.
The bookies have Tottenham as the slight favourites, and we think that’s about right.
Spurs first goalscorer bets
Harry Kane ($5.50 at William Hill)
The Tottenham vice-captain spurned a couple of excellent opportunities at West Ham in midweek, including one in the six-yard box where he failed to make any meaningful contact with the ball. But he’s the main man in attack and will fancy his chances against a Gunners defence missing Cech and Koscielny.
Dele Alli ($8.50 at Sportsbet)
The Premier League’s breakout star of 2015-16 was rested at Upton Park with a foot complaint, but he is expected to be fit and firing for the Arsenal clash. England hasn’t produced an all-action, box-to-box, goalscoring midfielder of this calibre since Steven Gerrard broke through in the late ’90s.
Arsenal first goalscorer odds
Mesut Ozil ($13 at Sportsbet)
While better known for his ability to create goals, the German – who scored in the loss to Man United last weekend – is no slouch at putting them away himself. With Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez struggling for touch in front of the sticks, Ozil looms as the biggest scoring threat in the Arsenal midfield right now.
Danny Welbeck ($8 at CrownBet)
He found the winner against Leicester, scored another on a tough return to Old Trafford, and yet was left out of the starting 11 against Swansea. It’ll be a toss up on the right flank between Welbeck, Joel Campbell ($13) and Theo Walcott ($11), all three of whom are very capable in front of goal.
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