PREVIEW: Arsenal v Spurs: Injury News, Time To Rest?, Preferred XI + Prediction

By on January 3, 2014

Arsenal kick off this seasons FA Cup as we take on fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

While both clubs can think themselves a little unfortunate to have such a tough draw in the third round, and managers would prefer to have the chance to rest some tired legs, this is certainly the stand-out tie of the round and we’re sure to be in for a cracking game.

We’ve just come off the back of a festive period that saw us take 10 points from a possible 12, with the 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea followed by victories over West Ham, Newcastle and Cardiff to leave us sitting one point clear at the top of the table.

Tottenham also head into the game in good form, also taking 10 points from their last four games, including a rather fortunate 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

However, league form tends to go out the window in Cup games and even more so when it’s a north London derby.

Team News

The injuries have started to mount at just the wrong time with several players carrying knocks or are on the treatment table.

Nicklas Bendtner was the latest player to pick up a problem after injuring his ankle while scoring the opener against Cardiff on Wednesday. Olivier Giroud has recovered from his own ankle problem but has been laid up in bed with a sickness bug and is unlikely to feature unless he makes a miraculous recovery overnight.

The lack of strikers mean Lukas Podolski is likely to start up top and he’ll hope to put in a better display after struggling against Cardiff.

Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs remain out but Mesut Ozil has a chance to play after returning to training on Friday afternoon following a shoulder problem. I don’t think the boss will risk him unless he’s 100% though so the German might be on the bench.

Yaya Sanogo returned to training today while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is due back next week, but Abou Diaby is still nowhere to be seen.

Preferred XI

Many have suggested we could or should rest some key men but I disagree. Winning breeds confidence and nothing will give us a greater boost than getting one over our rivals. Unfortunately, injuries mean we can’t really rotate too much without risking the quality of the starting eleven.

Thankfully, Arsene Wenger stated at his press conference today that he is going to treat this as a ‘top league game’ and will therefore play a strong side.

While the majority of the side should remain in tact, I’d like to see Thomas Vermaelen given another chance at the back as he did very well in his two games while Koscileny was out and although this game is important, the league is still the priority and giving Kos a day off wouldn’t do him any harm.

Here is the team I’d like to see start:

The team news from the away side is that Emmanuel Adebayor is set to start after recovering from cramp. We all know he’s going to be bang up for this game and he’s been in good form of late, but fingers crossed his emotions get the better of him and he gets himself sent off again!

Defoe, Townsend and Holtby all returned to training today but it’s likely that Tim Sherwood will stick with the side that beat Man Utd.

Prediction & Betting

If, as expected, Tottenham go 4-4-2 again then I’d make us the heavy favourites. With our slick passing game and more bodies in midfield, I can see us cutting them open and creating chance after chance.  Adebayor will be a threat, but we have the best defence in the league and are more than capable of keeping him quiet. We managed to keep Suarez and Sturridge out so should have no problems doing the same with Ade and Soldado.

Therefore my betting tip is to back Arsenal to win 2-0. I’m no expert in making sports betting tips, but I’m confident we’ll ease past this Spurs side. Particularly if Sherwood plays 4-4-2. He’s a young, inexperienced manager and I think that’s going to go against him this weekend.

I can see a rather comfortable victory over our bitter rivals to book our place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.  Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham COYG!!!!