There are games, there are big games, there are huge games and then there is Tottenham vs Arsenal in the North London Derby. This game means everything to the supporters of both clubs, and I mean everything. Twitter and Facebook banter and trash talk has been going on for weeks now, as fans fans habe been sniping at each other leaving some already dreading the morning after ridicule a loss would bring. It doesn’t bare thinking about it, really it doesn’t. I have had 2 nightmares already this week about this game. However it is the joyous feeling of winning is what makes football so special.
When the Referee blows that whistle to kick this game off, all the talking stops! Leaving us 11 vs. 11 to decide such a massive game with monumental ramifications to both sets of supporters. With the teams currently involved in a tight race to finish in the top 4 of the EPL, this game takes on even added importance. Tottenham currently sit 4 points clear of the Gunners on the table, so a draw isn’t the end of the world for them but for Arsenal 3 points in this fixture is a MUST! That would help propel them to within touching distance of the treasured Champions League spots.
Focusing on the game we have Andre Villa-Boas vs. Arsene Wenger in a match up of two top quality managers. They both have their teams play a smooth passing style that’s easy on the eye and can produce results on the attack. Goals will be expected to come in bunches as both of these squads attack better than they defend. Both defences have given away terribly poor goals this season, so confidence on keeping a clean sheet are limited for both teams. This is great news for neutral fans as it promises to be an exciting display, but can be awfully heart wrenching for the fans of the squads involved.
With Sagna doubtful (injured) a key battle between Gareth Bale and Carl Jenkinson could decide the game. Bale has been outstanding all season, producing high level performances on a weekly basis. Lately he has been even better, and maybe even unstoppable, and so Jenkinson will have a huge job trying to keep him quiet. How effective Jenkinson can be in the this matchup will go a long way to decide the final outcome?
A second big matchup to keep an eye on will be the battle between Nacho Monreal and Aaron Lennon. I think the Spaniard will win this by going forward and thus pushing Lennon back. Forcing Lennon to defend and keeping him on his heels is important, as defending is not the strongest part of his game. If Monreal can keep him on his heels, he has the pace to be able to keep Lennon quiet in this game.
Key players for Tottenham:
Bale: he must get involved, produce quality crosses, take advantage of free kicks and basically be a nuisance.
Adebayor: Needs to work(can be so bloody lazy at time), but he is a proper menace when on his game and needs to take chances when they come his way.
Gallas: the ex-gunner needs to play for a full 90 minutes, no little naps, no stupid mistakes and work keep Arsenal at bay.
Key Players for Arsenal
Wilshere: He needs to run the game like he can, play the killer passes and keep the ball ticking over. At his best, Wilshere controls the game at midfield and leads to really produce big style.
Santi Cazorla: on his best days he is a magician but has yet to show his true qualities in a big game. Gooners certainly hope that maybe this could be the day.
Arsenal Centre backs: Whoever plays out of Mertesacker,Vermaelen or Koscielny have to play as a pair, they need to win headers, and no falling asleep at the back. They need to defend for the full 90minutes, as they cannot afford to give Tottenham easy goals through bad mistakes/errors.
Prediction time: My heart says 3-2 Arsenal, my head says 2-2 and my nightmare says 3-1 Tottenham. This is what makes this game great, only the Football gods know the result of this massive fixture in advance.
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photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald via photopin cc