Sunday 25 September 2016

Tottenham v Arsenal talking points

Published 04/03/2016 | 15:36

David Ospina is expected to replace the injured Petr Cech in goal for Arsenal
David Ospina is expected to replace the injured Petr Cech in goal for Arsenal

Tottenham and Arsenal go head to head on Saturday in perhaps the most anticipated north London derby since the Premier League began.

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Spurs can pull six points clear of their fiercest rivals in the race for the top while the Gunners are desperate to get back on track after consecutive losses to Manchester United and Swansea.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the crunch clash at White Hart Lane.

1. WHO DOES WENGER TRUST TO SCORE?

Olivier Giroud has started Arsenal's last three consecutive defeats but the Frenchman now has no goals in 10 games and Arsene Wenger must surely be considering alternatives. The problem is none of Giroud's rivals are inspiring much faith. Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez have each scored just once this year while Danny Welbeck has only recently returned from injury and is preferred by Wenger out wide. It leaves the Frenchman with a dilemma ahead of his side's biggest game of the season.

2. WILL OSPINA RISE TO THE CHALLENGE?

David Ospina enjoyed an extended run in the Arsenal first team last season but doubts remained about his consistency at the highest level. Now, with Petr Cech facing up to a month on the sidelines, the Colombian stopper will be thrown back into the spotlight again and Arsenal will need the 27-year-old to hit the ground running this weekend. Mauricio Pochettino said targeting individual players would not be part of his plan but how Ospina, and his defence, react in the coming weeks could be crucial to the Gunners' title hopes.

3. CAN KANE REDISCOVER HIS GROOVE?

Kane long ago dispelled suspicions he could be a one-season wonder at White Hart Lane but the striker has been noticeably less perky of late, scored only once from open play in his last eight appearances. Perhaps the face mask he is wearing to protect a broken nose is causing discomfort or fatigue may be taking its toll after 45 matches for club and country since August. Either way, he has three goals in his last three north London derbies and Spurs could do with their top goalscorer extending that record on Saturday.

4. IS ALLI FIT AND ABLE TO KEEP CALM?

Dele Alli's sore ankle meant he was deemed fit enough only for the bench against West Ham but he came on for the last 30 minutes at Upton Park and is expected to start this weekend. It would be a big boost for Tottenham, who have missed the midfielder's drive, speed and guile when he has been away. One note of caution is Alli's temperament. The 19-year-old's desire and competitiveness can occasionally spill over to frustration and he will need to stay cool as the action inevitably heats up.

5. HOW BAD WILL IT BE FOR THE LOSER?

Predictions that a loss for Arsenal would end their title challenge seem exaggerated given, on paper at least, they have a kinder run-in than both Leicester and Tottenham. Gunners fans might also draw upon the 2012-13 season when Spurs won the north London derby in March to go seven points clear of their rivals but then faded as Arsenal stormed through to clinch fourth. Defeat for Spurs would represent a second consecutive loss for the first time this season and would certainly set nerves jangling among the Tottenham faithful. A draw would be celebrated by Leicester.

Press Association

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