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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal: match preview

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Kickoff: 2:45 PM EDT, White Hart Lane
TV: ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Mobile
SBN Spurs Coverage: Cartilage Free Captain

Arsenal jog up the road a piece tomorrow for a match against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.  A match that's loaded with significance in any circumstance bears the extra burden of Spurs being three points behind fourth-place Manchester City with a match in hand, and Arsenal being two points above third-place Chelsea, although equal on goal difference.  Arsenal are unbeaten in 15 Premier League games, but have won only eight of those, and have watched Manchester United slowly pull away at the top, while the Blues have found their form again and threaten from below.



Spurs, meanwhile, look to hold off Liverpool for fifth place and continue to press City for fourth.  They have already defeated Arsenal 3-2 at the Emirates in the reverse fixture earlier this season, but Arsenal doled out a 4-1 extra-time victory at White Hart Lane in the Carling Cup.  Both sides come into the match with their pride battered a bit, Arsenal's weekend draw with Liverpool matched by Tottenham's exit from the Champions League in Madrid last week.

Oh, but there's this:

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Yes, captain; yes.

Tottenham will be without the services of defenders Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, and Alan HuttonSteven Pienaar will also be out.  Arsenal, meanwhile, will welcome back Bacary Sagna, and the only injuries will be long-termers to Lukasz Fabianski and Thomas Vermaelen.

Anticipated lineup: (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Fabregas; Nasri, van Persie, Walcott.

Tactical thoughts from BeltransMole:

Last year when Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-1, they defended deep and narrow, and used Gareth Bale to hit Arsenal on the counter attack. They will most likely try to do the same thing this time around, and Arsenal must be wary of pushing the full backs too high forward. Equally, Alex Song and Jack Wilshere must close down the Tottenham distributors, especially Tom Huddlestone, just returned from injury, and Luka Modric. Meanwhile, Arsenal must also break Tottenham down. It'll be hard, because Tottenham will be deep and narrow, but if Arsenal play their passing game and don't resort to crossing it into the box, they should create chances.