Firstly sorry for the downtime over the last couple of days. We had our website taken down because Arsenal Fc did not like us publishing fixtures. We are now back stronger than ever and over the next 48 hours will be finishing off bits to the site.
Now back to busines with just 1 day to go and I already have the fever inside me, only present when a North London Derby is around the corner. This is our first proper big game of the season so far. Manchester City were top of the table when we played them but – no disrespect to them – they are not yet a big club. Tottenham are not yet a big club either but the fact they are our most fierce rival makes this a massive tie, whatever the situation. Spurs are languishing in 14th place right now and the optimistic 4th place finish once again looks unlikely. Meanwhile Arsenal are joint top of the Premier League only dropping two points along the way. The football has been good and what Arsenal seemed to lack last season is slowly revealing itself.
Many of us will remember predictions in the summer that read something like “Spurs to break into the top four in place of bitter rivals Arsenal”. Many people simply looked at the money spent by those across North London but not whether they were astute buys. The major signing had to be Darren Bent, if only because of the fee. The former Charlton striker demanded the exact same fee that Arsenal received for Thierry Henry. This was ridiculous for so many reasons but this is not what I am going to write about. The key factor in this transfer was the fact that Tottenham did not need to sign him. In Dimitar Berbatov they had one of the best new signings last season. Without him there is no doubt they would not have got as high in the league as they did. Robbie Keane worked brilliantly with him and he had a very good season. On the bench they had Jermain Defoe. Defoe is a very able deputy to these two but it seems he has been shoved further down the pecking order after the arrival of Bent. Defoe scores goals and there was simply no need for Bent to arrive. The money would have been better spent in midfield.
The centre of midfield is based only on their work rate. Jermaine Jenas is very over-rated and doesn’t add much to the team. Zokora simply runs around like a headless chicken. No one in their midfield has a creative spark in the centre. On the wing they have Aaron Lennon who is a brilliant player and one of the three Spurs players I would want at Arsenal (Berbatov and King the other 2). His pace is blistering and on his day any full back would struggle. On the other side they have Malbranque who is very much like Rosicky in the way he will play from the left. However they do not have any other solutions. They have used Gareth Bale out wide but he is primarily a left back. Martin Jol (or Comolie if you believe what you read) would surely have been better buying someone to supply 3 very suitable strikers with chances rather than buying a fourth striker who is not required. The money spent doesn’t exactly mean the required quality was brought in.
At the back they signed Gareth Bale and this was an interesting buy. Bale is definitely a talent and could solve their problem at left full back. He has played left midfield but I think he is better than Lee Yong Pyo back in the defence. They bought in a centre back that was needed but he got injured so they look threadbare here. This I don’t blame them for so much.
In contrast Arsene Wenger didn’t spend that much money but analysed what he had. He knew his defence needed tightening up and Bakary Sagna looks like he has improved this. He is a good defender who can attack. He is not a superstar but will improve the team so that’s what matters. Eduardo looks like the natural finisher we didn’t have. Unlike Spurs we didn’t sign a striker we didn’t need.
Arsenal go into this game with a large amount of confidence but also some selection dilemmas. Philippe Senderos is suspended and William Gallas is doubtful. He may be forced to play for France tonight but this will surely anger Mr Wenger as there is a huge risk attached to this. IF Gallas comes through it I would bet our skipper will start on Saturday. Gallas will want to play this game; he is a winner who loves the big occasion. Should Gallas not make it Gilberto will deputise at centre back, a role he did very well in the last 40 minutes against Fulham. If not required in the back 4 I would be surprised if he is not deployed back in central midfield to provide the shield and cover for Fabregas. Should Sagna not regain fitness Flamini will probably get another game at right back after he did so well against Portsmouth. However I would still prefer a natural right back in this position. Hoyte is fit and raring to play so I would give him a game. He knows what a North London derby entails, being a fan himself.
Hleb and Rosicky will get the nod on the right and left respectively. Rosicky has scored 2 goals in 2 games and has looked in good form. He loves to run with the ball and create chances for others. He takes pressure off Fabregas and gives the opposition a lot to think about. Hleb is similar in the way he can pick the perfect pass. He is frustrating sometimes but can be brilliant. Fabregas is in scintillating form and I just hope it will continue on Saturday afternoon.
Wenger has a decision to make about the front two. It is certainly not one I would like to make. Adebayor and Van Persie started against Pompey and I would say Wenger will go with this. It is the safe bet. Adebayor will be a nuisance to their defence, working hard trying to open space for Van Persie and midfield runners. Van Persie needs a goal, his confidence seems a bit knocked in front of goal. There is also the option to play Eduardo. His brace in midweek for Croatia was fantastic and it is surely not long before Wenger gives him another start. He could drop Van Persie but I doubt he will do this because he can get a goal at any time and is our main man now Henry has left.
Arsenal need to go at Spurs and put them under pressure early. In past games at the Lane we have started badly and let them into an early lead. If we get the lead we can kill them off and shove them further down the league and continue our excellent form into the Sevilla match.
Providing there are no new injuries I would go with this
Subs: Fabianski, Hoyte, Diaby, Denilson, Eduardo