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Leaving aside rivalry and bragging rights, this is clearly a more significant game for Tottenham than Arsenal. A careless draw at Turf Moor last Saturday likely ended any faint hope The Gunners had for Champions League qualification through the top four and the success of Arsenal’s season will depend on their Europa League campaign.
Mikel Arteta sent out a full-strength team against Olympiakos and will probably be forced to rotate the squad against Tottenham.
Sunday 16:30 – Arsenal v Tottenham
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
This will be an easier balancing act for Arteta to pull off with no fans at the Emirates Stadium and no discontent in the stands if Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney are left out.
Tottenham, on the other hand, still have a realistic chance of automatic Champions League qualification through the top four, as they sit just five points behind Chelsea with a game in hand. Spurs were also fortunate enough to draw Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, a team they should be able to swat aside and they duly did the first part of the job with a 2-0 victory on Thursday night.
It will be intriguing to see if Jose Mourinho persists with a 4-2-3-1 formation including Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura and Gareth Bale in attack that has served Spurs so well in thrashing Burnley and Crystal Palace.
After looking close to the sack after a 2-1 defeat to West Ham less than a month ago, a more attacking approach and Bale reminding the football world of his considerable talent has seen Tottenham looking a dangerous proposition again.
Mourinho will surely be tempted to revert to his traditional 4-3-3, with Moussa Sissoko bolstering the midfield and trying to nick the game on the counter-attack like Tottenham did in December’s North London Derby. However, Tottenham should go for the jugular here, especially with Arsenal potentially weakened.
For the reasons outlined above it would not surprise me if Tottenham were favourites for this match come 16:30 on Sunday and teams are announced, so Mourinho’s men have to be the selection for the first leg of our Bet Builder.
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After scoring another double on Thursday night, we’ll keep it simple for leg two of our Bet Builder. Harry Kane needs only one more goal to become the highest goalscorer in North London Derby history. He’s also off the back of an outstanding brace of goals and assists against Crystal Palace, we can’t see that Arsenal defence keeping him at bay.
While Gareth Bale clearly has lost some of the athleticism of his youth, his recent form shows he can still be a quality contributor for Tottenham. Amazing what happens just before a loan is supposed to end, isn’t it? Bale has had six shots and four shots on target in his last three matches and you can see him testing the Arsenal goal here.
Lastly, we’ll go for Pierre-Emile Hojberg to be carded. A lot is asked of the Dane in Tottenham’s system and he leads Spurs in fouls made and yellow cards. So, don’t be surprised if he gets on the wrong side of Michael Oliver in what is usually a fiery affair.
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