A North London derby that might have serious consequences—a defeat for the Gunners could leave them 9 points behind Leicester. The stars are aligning against Arsenal, with Petr Cech injured for as long as a month and even Alexis Sanchez lamenting the lack of self-belief running through the squad. This is a derby though, and against the oldest enemy—take nothing as a given here. Spurs welcome back Moussa Dembélé from injury, and are likely to name a similar team to the one beaten by West Ham. It’s a shame a match as important at this one is being played at 12.45pm though.
With Laurent Koscielny out, Wenger will be relying on Gabriel to protect David Ospina. The Brazilian hasn’t had an easy time of it—back to back losses will have done little for his confidence, and this time he won’t have Petr Cech’s calming influence behind him. When Gabriel is at his best he’s clearing the ball repeatedly and making important tackles, but at his worst he’s basically irrelevant and can be cut out of the match entirely.
It is something of a surprise that the Danish playmaker has been so accomplished under Pochettino’s regime. As observers we don’t typically associate creative attackers with the high-press but Eriksen has adapted admirably to the role. Another year in this system and the Dane might be good enough to play for Barcelona. Arsenal will have their hands full trying to shackle Eriksen, with the likes of Coquelin required to keep a close eye on him.
Welbeck looks determined to make an impact now that he’s fit again—a place in the squad for the European Championships must be his target. His pace has always been an excellent tool, but his finishing has let him down time and time again. Perhaps that’s something he can learn though—certainly he offers a lot more to Roy Hodgson than the likes of Andy Carroll or Jermain Defoe, especially because he’s comfortable on the wing. With Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney all ahead of him in the pecking order, Welbeck is going to have to be very impressive for the remainder of the season.
The Argentine has won over many of his detractors this season, with tenacious and aggressive play. If he were to get a goal in this match it would mark the zenith of his renaissance under Pochettino. No longer looking out of his depth, Lamela has put in far more excellent performances than poor ones. Long may it continue.