The Premier League returns with a bang after the international break, as Arsenal welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the Emirates Stadium in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs have started the season brightly by qualifying for the Champions League last-16, but sit eight points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City in the title race.
Arsenal are even further behind Spurs as Arsene Wenger’s men trail City by 12 points, sitting sixth after losing four of their opening 11 League games to put pressure on their long-serving manager.
Though there is still plenty left to play for this season, a defeat for either side would seriously dent their title ambitions before another tricky festive fixture pile-up.
Olivier Giroud is a major doubt for Arsenal with a thigh injury picked up on international duty, though the France striker was unlikely to start the derby.
Rob Holding is unlikely to return, but there is more hope for David Ospina and Shkodran Mustafi. Santi Cazorla remains a long-term absentee.
Tottenham are facing an injury crisis ahead of the north London derby, with a number of key players currently out of action.
Goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm are both out along with defenders Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and Jan Vertonghen (ankle), while Victor Wanyama is still battling to return – Vertonghen should recover in time, though Lloris faces a race to be fit.Pochettino expects Dele Alli to be back in time for the trip to the Emirates despite the midfielder pulling out of England’s recent squad for the November international break.
Harry Kane (knee) and Harry Winks (ankle) both also departed from Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad due to injury setbacks, though the striker will return against Arsenal provided he suffers no further problems.
Manager Arsene Wenger left club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette out of his starting lineup against City, but the Frenchman came on and found the back of the net.
It would therefore be a surprise if Lacazette were left out again, particularly with his goal scoring record this season, as highlighted by the Premier League’s official Twitter account:
Arsenal will also want more from talisman Alexis Sanchez, who has yet to find his top form this season and has managed just two goals in all competitions.
Tottenham, meanwhile, go into the game on the back of a narrow win over Crystal Palace that saw them move level on points with Manchester United in second but still eight behind leaders City.
Elsewhere, City visit Leicester, Manchester United faces Newcastle United, Chelsea take on West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool host Southampton.
Team P W D L
Arsenal 167 66 49 52
Tottenham 167 52 49 66
Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Sanchez; Lacazette.
Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Trippier, Dembele, Dier, Rose; Eriksen, Alli; Kane.
DO YOU KNOW?
1. Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur has seen more draws (21) than any other fixture in Premier League history.
2. Sunderland have conceded 31 goals this season which is 12 more than the 19 Expected Goals Against (xGA) they would normally expect to have conceded based on chances created against them.
3. Switzerland has qualified for four consecutive World Cup tournaments for the first time since 1954.
4. Switzerland hasn’t lost a competitive home fixture by more than one goal since September 2014, when they lost 0-2 vs England.
5. Marcus Maddison has both scored and assisted in three different @SkyBetLeagueOne games this season – no player has done so in more.
6. Since they’ve been a Football League club, no player has scored more goals in all competitions for Wimbledon than Lyle Taylor (42).
7. Republic of Ireland have avoided defeat in all six of their World Cup 2018 qualifiers away from home, winning three and drawing the other three.
8. During World Cup 2018 qualifying, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen scored more goals than any other midfielder (8).
9. Republic of Ireland is unbeaten in their last four internationals against Denmark (W2 D2), with those wins coming in their last two contests.
10. Adebayo Akinfenwa has scored 10 headed league goals in 2017, three more than any other player in England’s top four tiers.
11. Michael Raynes is the first League Two player to both score a goal and an own goal in the same game since Sonny Bradley in October 2016.
12. Brett Pitman has scored more Football League goals against Blackpool (6) than any other opponent. Illuminate.
13. There were just 105 seconds between Oxford United’s equaliser and Northampton Town’s second goal.
14. Danny Newton has had a hand in 10 league goals this season (7 goals, 3 assists), twice as many as any other Stevenage player.