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Preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur - prediction, team news, lineups
26/09/2021 14:35:43

After a painful period of behind-closed-doors North London derbies, supporters prepare to arrive at the Emirates Stadium en masse to witness Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur lock horns on Sunday afternoon (4:30PM, 26 Sept).

The Gunners enter this game on the back of a 3-0 EFL Cup success against AFC Wimbledon, whereas Spurs needed penalties to get over the line against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

We say: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

A lack of ruthlessness from both Arsenal and Tottenham has been evident over the past few weeks, but Sunday provides the perfect opportunity for one of Aubameyang or Kane to kickstart a revival in individual fortunes and set their side on the way to a memorable success.

Arteta and Santo should both be viewing Sunday's derby as a winnable fixture, and Emirates encounters between the two sides are always fiery spectacles - which we do not expect to change here - and we are backing Arsenal's improved form and defensive resilience to help get them over the line in front of a raucous home crowd.

Match preview

Martin Odegaard endeared himself to the Arsenal fans straight away with a goal in last season's Emirates North London derby - although the Gunners faithful were not there to witness it - but plenty in Turf Moor were treated to a slice of Scandinavian magic last weekend.

Arsenal's profligacy could have cost them dear once again, but former Real Madrid starlet Odegaard scored a peach of a free kick against Burnley to set Arsenal on their way to a 1-0 win before a second-string XI cruised to a 3-0 EFL Cup third-round win over League One outfit AFC Wimbledon.

The Gunners' previous win over Norwich City means that they enter the North London derby on the back of three wins and three clean sheets on the spin - with Mikel Arteta reaping the rewards of having his first-choice defenders available - but they remain in a disappointing 13th place in the fledgling standings.

After only managing one goal from 17 shots on target against Norwich, Arsenal produced an equally worrying success rate against Burnley - a solitary strike from nine efforts on goal - and failure to put the tie to bed will certainly harm them against their fellow continental chasers.

However, Arsenal have not failed to score in a Premier League meeting at home to Tottenham since the turn of the millennium, and given their rivals' recent run of form, Arteta's side are the ones with the wind in their sails before Sunday's mouthwatering contest.

In complete contrast, Spurs - who were collecting wins and clean sheets while Arsenal fell to defeats without finding the back of the net - have suffered quite the confidence hit in recent weeks following back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Crystal Palace and Chelsea in top-flight action.

Nuno Espirito Santo sought another memorable return to Molineux in the EFL Cup to rediscover some form ahead of the North London derby, but they threw away a two-goal lead on the night and only progressed via penalty kicks against Wolves during a taxing evening in the West Midlands.

However, a positive aspect of that nail-biting EFL Cup clash was Harry Kane's first domestic goal of the season, with the England captain still awaiting his first strike of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign as he aims to steal the headlines on derby day once again.

Owing to their recent setbacks in league action, Tottenham have now dropped to seventh in the table and can still only boast a measly three goals - by far the fewest in the top half - but their hosts Arsenal only have two strikes of their own to show for their efforts.

The two sides boasting five goals between them hardly serves as a cause for optimism for the neutral fans, but in a tale as old as time, form goes out the window on North London derby day as the Emirates crowd gears up for the prospect of another enticing battle between the two great rivals.

As mentioned, Arsenal claimed a 2-1 win in this fixture last term during Jose Mourinho's tenure in charge of Tottenham - although Spurs did prevail 2-0 at home a few months prior - and the visitors have won just one of their last 28 away games against Arsenal in the top flight.

Team News

Arsenal are blessed with a fully-fit squad for the visit of Tottenham, with Kieran Tierney given the all-clear after a cramp scare while Granit Xhaka returns from a three-game suspension.

It would be harsh to see Albert Sambi Lokonga dropped, but Arteta has been singing the praises of Xhaka ahead of this game and could re-introduce the Switzerland international alongside Thomas Partey.

Aaron Ramsdale should retain the gloves after back-to-back Premier League clean sheets, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will hope to hold his place up top over Alexandre Lacazette, in spite of the Frenchman boasting four goals from his last six North London derbies.

Meanwhile, Spurs boss Santo has confirmed that Lucas Moura is back in contention for Sunday, but Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Sessegnon both occupy spots in the treatment room.

With Son Heung-min also fully fit again, Moura could start on the right-hand side of the attack while his South Korean counterpart features on the left, which would see Giovani Lo Celso make way.

Tanguy Ndombele is slowly working his way back into Santo's plans and did score his side's opener in midweek, but he is the most likely option to drop out for irrepressible lynchpin Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:

Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Saka, Aubameyang, Smith Rowe

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:

Lloris; Emerson, Dier, Sanchez, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Skipp, Alli; Lucas, Kane, Son

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