Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal
Kickoff: Sunday, October 2, 11 AM EDT
White Hart Lane, Northeast London, just up the street from where Arsenal play
TV Coverage: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes, then FOX proper on delay at 2 PM or 4:30
SBN Tottenham Perspective: the wonderful Cartilage Free Captain.
Recent form: Spurs DWLWW, Arsenal DLWWW
In what is likely to be the most important fixture so far in Arsenal's season, the Gunners travel up the road a piece to arch-rivals Tottenham tomorrow in the year's first North London Derby. Both teams would seem to be struggling a bit to open the year, although results as of late have been much more positive for both sides than were the ones in August. The last couple of derbies haven't really gone Arsenal's way, first blowing a lead at the Emirates and losing 3-2 last autumn before going to White Hart Lane, starting on fire, and failing to keep the lead, eventually drawing 3-3. Whatever the result, though, the derby is always, always an absolute barn-burning hum-dingering time. It's that good.
Arsenal come into the match with a host of injuries. Things have not changed much since Wednesday's match against Olympiakos; the only returnees are possibly Theo Walcott and the not-match-fit Sebastien Squillaci. Laurent Koscielny hasn't managed to return from injury, so Alex Song will most likely have to deputize in the center of defense alongside Per Mertesacker again, meaning that Emmanuel Frimpong (or possibly Francis Coquelin) will start in the midfield along with Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey. Yossi Benayoun is fit again as well, and could pop up in the center or on the flanks at some point. Gervinho's still out, so Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an option on the right again.
For Spurs, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, and Aaron Lennon all played on Thursday against Shamrock Rovers, and all are healthy. Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart are also options, and one or the other could end up starting on the right if Harry Redknapp decides not to use Lennon again so soon.
For more on Spurs ahead of the match, check out Kevin's preview over at C.F.C. There will be more later today on both sites, as well.
And of course, Spurs now feature a familiar face at striker: one Emmanuel Adebayor, who has apologized for running the length of the pitch to celebrate scoring for Man City two years ago. Still, I hope he doesn't score tomorrow and wanders offside 99 times. And never touches the ball. And I hope his sport drink is warm and unrefreshing.
While a loss tomorrow would be a big old fat bummer, it is by no means the end. The season is still very young. A draw would be a good result, and a win would be most excellent. In years past, a win would be expected, but things have changed; Spurs are much stronger now than they have been in the past, and Arsenal, well, are not. If last year is anything to go by, it should be crazy. Honestly, nothing would blow my mind tomorrow. Nothing.
Please win, Arsenal.
Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Song, Gibbs; Frimpong, Arteta, Ramsey; Arshavin, van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain (or maybe Rosicky for a little more defense and experience).
Prediction: There is a scene during the first season of Metalocalypse where, such is the fury of the metal and released feral kittens, there is lots of blood. It's going to be like that. And 4-2 to the Arsenal. Or 19-17 to Spurs. Nobody knows.