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Spurs v Arsenal NLD preview | triple fitness boost, Ozil to start + prediction

By on March 2, 2019

mesut ozil arsenal 2018

The North London Derby is here and Arsenal can move to within one point of third place with a win over Tottenham at Wembley this lunchtime.

We head into the game off the back of a 5-1 thrashing of Bournemouth at the Emirates on Wednesday night which came quickly off the back of a routine 2-0 win over Southampton.

Those victories have left us sitting fourth in the Premier League table – just one point ahead of Man Utd – so we desperately need a positive result this afternoon to boost our top four hopes.

However, a win would also see us cut third-placed Tottenham’s advantage to just a single point – dragging them in to the top four race and putting third place within reach.

Obviously defeat doesn’t bear thinking about but if Arsenal do lose at Wembley then Tottenham would be seven points ahead with just nine games left, so this is a pivotal game in the race for Champions League qualification.

The good news is Spurs are reeling after seeing their ‘title challenge’ derailed with consecutive defeats to Burnley and Chelsea. The bad news is I fear they’ll be determined to respond against us this afternoon.

Team news

Arsenal have been handed a triple fitness boost with Laurent Koscielny, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all available for the game.

Koscielny has recovered from a minor knee problem, Lichtsteiner has shaken off a back injury that kept him out of the Bournemouth game while Maitland-Niles has overcome illness.

However, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck all remain on the sidelines with season-ending injuries.

As for Spurs, they’ll hand late fitness tests to Jan Vertonghen and Harry Winks but they are both expected to feature. Dele Alli and Eric Dier remain unavailable.

Preferred line-up

I hope Emery sticks with the same back three that started against Bournemouth but I hope Maitland-Niles or even Carl Jenkinson – who played well in midweek – start ahead of Lichtsteiner on the right.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan should keep his place after a superb performance in midweek but Emery has two big decisions to make in attack. The first is whether to retain Mesut Ozil after his excellent display against Bournemouth. I don’t see how we can leave him out so I hope he starts but Emery has axed him for all the big away games recently, so I won’t be surprised if Mesut is on the bench.

The second decision is who to start up front. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be hoping to retain his place after scoring last time out but I actually think Alexandre Lacazette would be a better bet today. His all-round game is better and I think we get more from him as a lone striker so Auba can be a weapon from the bench.

This would be my line-up:

football formations

As for Tottenham, this is expected to be their team: Lloris, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghem, Aurier, Winks, Sissoko, Rose, Son, Eriksen, Kane

Prediction

We won the reverse fixture at the Emirates thanks to a thrilling 4-2 comeback win that was arguably one of our best performances of the season [certainly the second half]. However, we have a poor recent record away to Tottenham as we’ve lost five of our last seven on the road. This is a decent opportunity for Arsenal to improve that record as Spurs have been poor the last two games but the away team rarely wins a NLD [just once in the last 16] and I think we’ll see Pochettino get a response from his players following their woeful display at Chelsea. I’m going for a 1-1 draw. Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal

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