Jack Lang is expecting a thriller when Spurs welcome the Gunners to Wembley in the early Saturday kick-off...
"Arsenal have scored in 44 of the last 46 derbies, and with Tottenham likely to have some joy at the other end, this has the makings of a goal fest at Wembley"
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
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Spurs closing in on top four
Offside or no offside? Dive or no dive? Foul or no foul? Tottenham have been at the heart of some of the most heated debates in football in the last week, in the wake of their madcap 2-2 draw with Liverpool last weekend.
But the controversy - and the feeling that they might even have snuck a win on another day - has threatened to obscure the fact that this was a huge result for Spurs in the race for the top four.
Mauricio Pochettino's men are still in fifth for now, but the gap between them and Chelsea is down to just a point - and with crisis bells ringing at Stamford Bridge, there looks to be a very real opportunity to kick on once the fixture list softens up. Arsenal and Juventus are next up, but after that Tottenham play Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle, giving them ample time to build some momentum for the showdown with Chelsea on 1 April.
Érik Lamela stated his claim for a starting spot by notching in the FA Cup success over Newport County in the week, while Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose also made their long-awaited comebacks. But the starting XI is likely to resemble the one picked at Anfield, with Harry Kane leading the line again after a rare night off. New boy Lucas Moura should be in the matchday squad.
Gunners have their tails up
Arsenal are four points further back in the race for the Champions League places, but hope springs eternal - especially after their demolition of Everton last weekend. New signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan made strong first impressions at the Emirates, and there was a palpable sense of post-Sánchez release on display.
There was a major mitigating factor to this new dawn, however: Everton were appalling. So while we can certainly expect Arsenal's goal column to tick along at a better rate in the weeks ahead, it's dangerous to make too many sweeping judgements off the back of one game. The Gunners are sixth for a reason and it is going to take quite a sequence of events for them to gatecrash the top four between now and the end of the season.
The question for Wenger this weekend is whether he dares to name the same side that started last weekend, knowing it will likely cede the midfield battle to Spurs. The alternative would be to bring in an extra man in the middle - Jack Wilshere or Mohamed Elneny - with Alex Iwobi dropping out.
With a run of 11 games unbeaten under their belts (all competitions), Tottenham will be in confident mood on Saturday and look a fairly attractive bet at [2.06]. They won this fixture 2-0 last term and have a strong home record against other top-six sides under Pochettino, so there's every chance they'll get the job done here.
But Arsenal's improvement does make us waver. The sample size is small, but evidence suggests Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Mesut Özil will have some joy against the Tottenham backline, so while we won't be backing the visitors at [3.8], their potential pushes us away from the match odds market.
The last two north London derbies have ended 2-0 to the home team (Arsenal won at the Emirates in November; Spurs triumphed by the same scoreline in April), but those results went against the recent grain in this fixture: both teams had scored in the previous six meetings, and you don't have to go too far back to hit 5-2s and 4-4s.
Pochettino has tightened things up a bit since then, but Arsenal have still scored in 44 of the last 46 derbies, and with added impetus up front, we expect them to make it 45 from 47 here. With Tottenham likely to score at other end (more on that in a moment), it's no surprise both teams to score is [1.44] and over 2.5 goals [1.57].
Kane is the logical pick in the goalscorer markets: the Tottenham talisman has netted six goals in six Premier League games against Arsenal, only failing to score in one of those games. He will be raring to go after a midweek rest and will be confident of testing a defence that always concedes plenty of chances.
Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2017/18