It’s double derby day once again and I’m previewing both Tottenham vs Arsenal and Everton vs Liverpool just as I did earlier in the season…
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
Saturday 7th February – 12:45 – White Hart Lane
Tottenham and Arsenal meet at White Hart Lane at lunchtime on Saturday with just two points separating them in the Premier League table. Spurs can overtake their north London rivals with a victory and depending on Southampton’s result at QPR, either side could end up in the top four by the end of the weekend. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham have lost just two of their last 14 games in all competitions, while Arsenal have 19 points from a possible 24 in the Premier league. Both teams picked up emphatic wins last weekend, with Spurs winning 3-0 at West Brom, whilst Arsenal ran out 5-0 victors against Aston Villa. Having beaten Manchester City last time they travelled, Arsene Wenger’s team are looking for their first back-to-back away wins in the Premier League since January 2014, but their North London rivals will want to preserve their own home league record of late – they haven’t lost in the Premier League at The Lane since November. It sets everything up for one of the most exciting North London derbies in years.
The Key Battle: Mousa Dembele vs Santi Cazorla
With Mousa Dembele regaining his place in Pochettino’s XI after a string of impressive displays and Santi Cazorla being back to his creative best, both players head into the game on the back of an upturn in form of late.
Taking a grip on the game from their central roles will be their objectives, with the ultimate winner being the player who can provide the greatest supply to their side’s attacking talents.
Dembele was able to provide two assists from advanced positions against West Bromwich Albion, while Cazorla also set up two and netted his sixth goal of the season against Aston Villa.
The Belgium midfielder commands superior physical attributes but, having failed to net in his last 42 appearances for Spurs, is far less of a goal threat.
- Midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is available to face Arsenal after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
- It means that Mauricio Pochettino has a full complement of players as Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue all had deadline-day moves did not materialise.
- Because of this, the former Southampton boss is likely to go with the same side that ran out 3-0 winners at West Brom last weekend.
- Arsenal are again likely to be without top scorer Alexis Sanchez because of a hamstring injury, even though Arsene Wenger’s press conference yesterday hinted the Chilean could be involved.
- Danny Welbeck is back in the squad following a thigh injury, whilst new signing Gabriel Paulista is unlikely to make his debut from the start.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) is still out along with Jack Wilshere (ankle), Mikel Arterta (ankle), Abou Diaby (calf) and full-back Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder).
Tottenham wins = 52 / Arsenal wins = 71 / Draws = 45
Last Meeting: Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham (27th September 2014)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ensured honours were even as Arsenal and Tottenham fought out an entertaining north London derby at Emirates. Nacer Chadli’s fourth goal in five Premier League appearances this season gave Spurs the lead early in the second half, but Oxlade-Chamberlain hit back with 15 minutes to go. Arsenal, disrupted by first-half injuries to Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, pressed for a winner but Mauricio Pochettino’s side stood strong in defence and ultimately a draw was the right result.
Stat of the Match
David Ospina has as many clean sheets in the Premier League this season as Wojciech Szczesny (3), despite playing 14 fewer games.
Where can I watch it?
As it is today’s earlier kick-off, the game is live on BT Sport from 12pm, with kick-off 45 minute later. The highlights will then be shown on BBC One’s Match of the Day, which is on at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal
Last weekend I predicted a 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Manchester City and got it right, so I’m going for the same again because these two sides are incredibly evenly matched. It should be a fiery, entertaining encounter with Harry Kane and Olivier Giroud grabbing the goals as the two sides will find each other hard to break down.
Everton vs Liverpool
Saturday 7th February – 17:30 – Goodison Park
Everton and Liverpool contest the 224th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in today’s late kick-off, with both sides enjoying good form of late. Roberto Martinez’s team have bounced back from a three-game losing streak over the Christmas period and are now unbeaten in five games (excluding penalty shoot-outs) in all competitions, albeit four of those games have ended in draws. They come into this game on the back of a gritty 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace, where they kept just their fifth clean sheet of the season. Liverpool needed late strikes for Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho to beat Bolton in their FA Cup replay in midweek, whilst last weekend they were 2-0 winners over West Ham. They are now up to seventh in table, whilst Everton’s surprising relegation worries have been eased as they up to 12th. The late kick-off time is controversial, and for Merseyside police unwelcome; it’s to be hoped that tempers on and off the pitch are kept in check.
The Key Battle: Ross Barkley vs Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard’s ninth career club game was the Merseyside derby – he played at right-back – and his 701st Reds’ appearance will be the derby. In between there have been 31 more games against the Blues, with 10 goals and two red cards for Stevie G.
This is all assuming that Gerrard plays, but it would be a brave manager who leaves him out as he prepares to join LA Galaxy in the summer.
The 34 year old is also Liverpool’s joint top scorer this season in all competitions this season, notching nine along with Raheem Sterling.
For many, Ross Barkley is Gerrard’s natural replacement in the England team, but hasn’t shown his best form for Everton this season, despite showing glimpses of his class.
Partly due to an injury, the 21 year old has made just 12 starts for the Toffees in the league, scoring 1 goal and getting 1 assist. That strike was a spectacular one though, against QPR back in December.
- Roberto Martinez could give a debut to Aaron Lennon, who joined the club on loan from Tottenham on the final day of the transfer window.
- Midfielder James McCarthy is set to return after six weeks out with a hamstring injury.
- However, the game at Goodison Park looks to be too soon for Tim Howard (calf) to make his comeback, and Leon Osman (foot), Steven Pienaar (knee) and Tony Hibbert (unspecified) remain sidelined.
- Daniel Sturridge could make his first club start since August, having played twice as a substitute since his comeback from injury.
- There are slight injury doubts over midfielders Lucas Leiva (thigh), Lazar Markovic (back) and Adam Lallana (groin).
- Jordan Henderson started the game against Bolton on the bench, but should return to the starting line-up today.
Everton wins = 67 / Liverpool wins = 89 / Draws = 68
Last Meeting: Liverpool 1-1 Everton (27th September 2014)
Phil Jagielka’s spectacular injury-time equaliser earned Everton an unlikely Premier League point in an entertaining Merseyside derby. It had appeared Steven Gerrard’s superb second-half free-kick would give Liverpool victory until Jagielka’s scorching, swerving shot into the top corner from 30 yards stunned the home fans. A draw will be a huge disappointment for Liverpool, who had come into the game desperate to kick-start their season after a sluggish beginning following their summer spending spree.
Stat of the Match
Premier League fixtures at Goodison Park have produced an average of three goals a game this season, the joint second-highest in the league.
Where can I watch it?
The match is live on Sky Sports 1 from 4:45pm, with kick-off at 5:30pm. The highlights will then be shown on BBC One’s Match of the Day, which is on at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Everton 1-2 Liverpool
As the stat above shows, expect three goals in this game, so that is what I’ve done. Both teams are on good form, but Liverpool’s season as a whole has been better and Brendan Rodgers’ side are gathering momentum meaning they should just edge this match. Romelu Lukaku will score for the hosts with Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard scoring for the Reds.