For the first time in 22 years, Tottenham are set to finish above Arsenal in the Premier League. While they haven’t become the more successful side trophy-wise, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have been more impressive throughout the course of this campaign.
Sunday’s North London Derby, the last at White Hart Lane, is set to be a cracker with both sides needing three points for different reasons. Spurs will know Chelsea’s result before kick off and, depending on the scoreline, they could close the league leaders advantage to just one point.
Arsenal, on the other hand, need three points to keep them in contention for a top four spot. The Gunners have had indifferent form throughout 2017 but it’s still mathematically possible for Arsene Wenger’s men to qualify for the Champions League.
The Gunners start the day on 60 points, five points off Manchester City in fourth, and, like Spurs, all their rivals apart from Liverpool will have played before they do.
Wenger has used a 5-2-2-1 tactic over the last three games and the Gunners remain unbeaten while playing in this formation. However, how will Arsenal set up in such a huge fixture against Tottenham?
The Boot Room predicts that Wenger will stick with his new tactic, one that has been successful with Spurs and Chelsea this season, and Petr Cech will start in goal with David Ospina still recovering from injury.
Another player suffering from injury is Laurent Koscielny, but it’s likely he’ll join young Rob Holding and Gabriel in central defense, with Shkodran Mustafi ruled out.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s impressive right wing-back performance against Manchester City earns him a starting spot this fixture, after he proved his ability to perform the wing-back position in a big fixture. On the left, both Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs are able to feature as a wing-back, but Wenger is likely to opt for the experienced Spaniard.
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey should continue their central midfield partnership as the Switzerland international’s tough tackling and expansive passing ability complements Ramsey’s hard-working, box-to-box nature. Francis Coquelin has been out the first team picture recently and his hot-headed playing style is not what’s needed in a derby game.
The attacking unit features Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud. The only real decision Wenger is faced with is choosing a striker. Sanchez and Ozil’s are pretty much guaranteed a starting spot. However, the striker’s role is up for grabs and it’s currently Giroud that’s getting the most game time. The Frenchman has, one again, become a regular feature in the first team recently.
On Sunday, Giroud will provide a physical presence for Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld to deal with. Although he is less mobile than Welbeck, and slower than Walcott, the French international has a more consistent habit of being in the right place at the right time than his two English teammates.
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