Arsene Wenger has conceded that Arsenal can afford no more slipups in the final stretch of the season if they are to end their trophy drought this season. Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League to Bayern Munich in midweek, despite securing a draw in Germany, but remain in the hunt for both the Premier League and FA Cup.
Having topped the league table for much of the season, a defeat to Stoke City two weeks ago has left Arsenal playing catch-up to Chelsea, as well as Manchester City. Arsenal will face both those rivals in the next two weeks, but first face another high-pressure fixture at their north London rivals Tottenham. White Hart Lane has not been the most fruitful of venues for Arsenal in recent seasons, but Wenger knows there is little room for error.
“We have played two draws and three losses there [in the last five league meetings],” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “It is a difficult ground to go to for everybody. It has always been difficult at White Hart Lane but we are in a position where of course we want to win the game.
“After Stoke it was very important that we had a good result against Everton, we had a good result even at Bayern but [it remains important] that we continue and have no weak moment any more until the end of the season.”
The match in Munich came at a further cost for Arsenal, with Mesut Ozil set to miss at least four weeks with a hamstring injury that forced him off at half time at the Allianz Arena. Hopes of Aaron Ramsey’s return for the derby have also been dashed. The midfielder, who has been out since Boxing Day, has suffered a further setback on his comeback from a thigh injury and is now set to be out for another two weeks. Better news comes in the form of January loan signing Kim Kallstrom finally being available for selection after a back problem. Kieran Gibbs remains a doubt but fellow left-back Nacho Monreal returns to the squad.
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Like, Arsenal, Tottenham also come into the encounter on the back of a difficult week. Manager Tim Sherwood publicly criticized his team’s moral fiber after they collapsed to a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea last weekend. But that scolding failed to have the desired effect, with Tottenham losing 3-1 at home to Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.
The loss to Chelsea means Tottenham are now barely clinging onto hopes of a top-four berth. Spurs go into the game six points adrift of Arsenal and having played a game more.
Sherwood revealed on Friday that Emmanuel Adebayor, Mousa Dembele and Kyle Walker are all fitness doubts. Captain Michael Dawson, Vlad Chiriches, Etienne Capoue and Erik Lamela are definitely ruled out.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at noon ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available at NBC Sports Live Extra.