Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal v Tottenham talking points

Arsenal and Tottenham head into Sunday's north London derby in contrasting veins of form.

Arsenal have won 10 out of their last 11 matches while Spurs are without a victory in six but recent records will count for little at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five talking points ahead of the clash:


Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Harry Kane will be on the bench at the very least on Sunday, after the 23-year-old recovered from an ankle ligament injury. The question is whether Pochettino will start Kane given the striker has not featured in a competitive match in seven weeks. Tottenham could certainly do with their talisman back. They have not scored from open play in five games and Kane has an excellent record against Arsenal, having scored four times in the last three league fixtures.


If Pochettino has a decision to make over Kane, Arsene Wenger has his own selection dilemma up front. It is hard to argue with the prowess of Alexis Sanchez, who has eight goals already in all competitions, but Wenger could pick Olivier Giroud to lead the line, and use Sanchez in attacking midfield. Giroud is a streaky striker, indispensable when in form, and the Frenchman has made a strong case for inclusion after hitting the net three times in his last two.


Spurs are enduring a dip after drawing three consecutive games against West Brom, Bournemouth and Leicester but they are also not losing in the league, where they remain the only unbeaten team. Their attack has been misfiring and they have struggled to create chances in recent weeks but there is no doubt Tottenham's defence remains the meanest in the division. How Arsenal would love to be the first to beat their rivals this season.


Theo Walcott's hamstring strain came just as the winger looked to be finding some rhythm, after an impressive start to the season that has yielded eight goals in 12 appearances. Walcott has missed Arsenal's last three games but Wenger suggested the forward may be ready for a return versus Tottenham, against whom he has scored four times in his last nine games. If he does play, Walcott's battle against Danny Rose could be a key factor in the contest.


Tottenham finished below Arsenal last season for the 21st consecutive season but there is no doubt Pochettino's men were Leicester's closest title rivals during the run-in. Arsenal failed to challenge but they look to have the bit between their teeth this term, showing a steel and aggression so lacking in recent years. Spurs, meanwhile, have proven themselves vulnerable while key players have been out injured. This will be another test of whether these clubs are challenging for the title or just Champions League qualification.


From Belfast Telegraph