Sunday, October 02, 2011

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal preview

Spurs and Arsenal meet at White Hart Lane in the north London derby with Spurs in the ascendency and for the first time in decades, looking to forge ahead of their closest rivals.  Will Arsenal put their earlier poor performances behind them or will Spurs maintain the momentum gained from three consecutive Premier League wins?

Tottenham Continue to Play Catch-up.

This afternoon Tottenham continue this season's game of catch-up as they try to overcome near neighbours, Arsenal, at White Hart Lane.  Having a game in hand due to the riots in Tottenham in August and with Thursday evening Europa League games, come Saturday evening Spurs find themselves two games behind the teams around them in the League table.  As the teams above them continue to win, Spurs find themselves under an added pressure to win and take three points to once again close that gap.  They have managed it so far and will be hoping to add to Arsenal's miserable start to the season with another success over their greatest rivals.

Arsenal have had their worse start to a season since 1953, a year when they won 4 - 1 at White Hart Lane in October but lost 0 - 3 at Highbury the following February.  George Robb scored Spurs' only goal in the home defeat but scored twice in the return fixture with Sonny Walters getting the other goal.  That season Spurs finishes 16th in the twenty two team Division 1 while Arsenal managed 12th.  Arsenal have shown slight improvement in recent weeks with three successive home victories in league and Cup matches but none of the performances have been convincing.  They defeated Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup, defeated a poor Bolton Wanderers team 3 - 0 last weekend and had a 2 - 1 success in the Champions League over Olympiakos of Greece.

Tottenham have won three Premier League games since losing heavily to United and City in their first two league games.  With players returning to fitness, Harry Redknapp, will have to make decisions on team formation and personnel for this important game.  It's the first time in Premier League history that Spurs go into a north London derby as favourites.  Aaron Lennon, Sandro, Rafael Van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe are all expected to be fit and making a claim for a place in the starting line-up.  Spurs will look to take advantage of Arsenal's defensive frailties, they lost 2 - 8 at Old Trafford, and will want a quick tempo start that worked so well against Liverpool, putting the visitors on the back foot and never allowing them to recover.

For the duration of the Premier League Spurs have found themselves trailing in the wake of a successful Arsenal team.  This season, there is just a slight chink in that aura of invincibility that has surrounded Arsenal under Arsene Wenger so Tottenham have to be prepared to ensure they grab that opportunity with both hands and force home any advantage they can gain.

All eyes will be on Emmanuel Adebayor who used to do so well at White Hart Lane, playing in the red of Arsenal.  Tottenham will be hoping he can perform as he has done in the opening three games of his Spurs career while the Arsenal fans are still sore about him leaving to join Manchester City two years ago and his celebrations when scoring twice against them.  The player will be under immense scrutiny to maintain his cool under provocation but he has seemed very level-headed in interviews since joining Spurs.  He sees himself like any other person who changes his place of employment - he has great memories of his time there but now he works/plays for Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs really should win and need that victory to close the gap on those clubs above them and they really want to put one over on Arsenal who have made them suffer so much for far too long.

Memorable Matches (from a Spurs perspective)
Apr. 1983 (Div. 1) (h) Won 5 - 0  Hughton (2), Brazil, Falco (2)
Nov, 1999 (PL) (h) Won 2 - 1  Iversen, Sherwood  (Arsenal had two men sent off)
Apr. 2010 (PL) (h) Won 2 - 1  Rose, Bale

Spurs were desperate for points to ensure fourth place in the league and reach the Champions League for the first time.  The previous weekend they had lost at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final against Portsmouth.  Danny Rose, on his debut, struck a beautiful shot from a corner that was cleared to him and put Spurs ahead after ten minutes.  Gareth Bale added a second immediately after half-time and although Arsenal pulled one back, Spurs took the three points for the first time in the league since the 1999-2000 season and gained a momentum that took them to Champions league qualification.


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