Saturday’s early kick-off sees two inconsistent early starters face-off as Tottenham make the short trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal.
The two sides are separated by just one point, with Arsenal behind their bitter rivals – Wenger’s side however have home advantage.
How important playing at home will be for the Gunners is debatable, with Arsenal winning just two of their previous five fixtures on home turf, with defeats to Chelsea and Schalke followed by last week’s 3-3 draw with Fulham. Including away games, Arsenal come into this clash without a win in three.
Spurs meanwhile have stumbled somewhat in recent weeks – after an initial spell of one defeat in 12, Andre Villas-Boas’ side have lost three of their last four. Away from home however, they have picked up three wins in four, with last week’s 2-1 defeat to Man City ending a good run.
Arsenal welcome back ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who returns after two months out with an ankle injury, Vito Mannone dropping to the bench. Also returning are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey, while late decisions will be made on Mikel Arteta (hip), Bacary Sagna (leg), Theo Walcott (buttock), and Olivier Giroud (hamstring).
Spurs meanwhile are still without midfielder Moussa Dembele, who could return in midweek against Lazio. Jermain Defoe faces a late fight for fitness after hamstring troubles, meaning Emmanuel Adebayor will start against his former club. Both Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker are also struggling having left the international set-up with England in midweek with niggling injuries.
“For some time we were winning championships and they were not in the top four at all so, of course, they’ve got closer in recent years but we always managed to get above [them].
“Every year they have a good side and they are always a team that is fighting with us. Certainly the results in the two derbies can have a big influence on a qualifying spot for the Champions League.”
“It is possible to bridge the gap. We are looking at trying to shorten the gap and not letting it grow. To play for fourth spot is difficult bearing in mind the competition you have to overcome. It’s possible to bridge it.
“Arsenal have won trophies in recent times and they have qualified for the Champions League more often. That is where we want to be in the future. We’re getting nearer.”
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