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Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur: the North London Derby

Time to put up or shut up. A win today would be MASSIVE for the Gunners.

Tottenham Hotspur v Portsmouth: Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Arsenal make the short trip across North London to take on Tottenham with a chance to go eight points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table. A win would also take the Gunners a whopping 14 points clear of Spurs and serve as a lovely palate cleanser for the Mykhaylo Mudryk transfer disappointment.

But it won’t be easy. Arsenal have not done the league double over Spurs since 2013-14. The Gunners haven’t won at Spurs in the Premier League since that season, too. I’d count the 3-1 smashing of Spurs at the Emirates earlier this season in Arsenal’s favor, however. The best evidence of how these two clubs match up this season comes from their performance against each other...this season. The ground matters and could push today’s contest towards even footing, but Arsenal dominated Tottenham a few months back.

It seems as if every match for Arsenal is some kind of measuring stick. Can they play as the favorites? How will they respond to the pressure of being at the top? Can they get it done in the big games? While I think those questions are mostly narrative-driven — I don’t think it matters to the Arsenal players hardly at all — today’s North London Derby might be a bit different. Hopefully the Gunners are prepared. I expect they will be. All season, they’ve shown themselves up for it. Our instincts keep telling us to doubt them, that the bottom could fall out at any minute. And Arsenal keep plugging along, doing what they’ve done all season — playing well and winning matches.

Today’s away NLD, along with the two matches against Manchester City (and maybe next weekend against Manchester United given their current form), feel like defining, make-or-break moments for the club this season. If Arsenal can win today, I might finally let myself begin to believe the Gunners could actually win the league.

Tottenham’s ranks will be bolstered by the return of Dejan Kulusevski, who has been cleared fit after missing the past three matches with a muscle injury. Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur are unlikely to be available. Lucas Moura will miss out.

Bukayo Saka, who was forced off against Oxford United with a knock, should be good to go. Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson are both out long-term. UPDATE: Mohamed Elneny picked up a knock in training and is not in the squad.

Arsenal - Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Xhaka, Ødegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah

Tottenham - Lloris, Doherty, Romero, Dier, Lenglet, Seesgnon, Hojbjerg, Sarr, Kulusevski, Son, Kane

WHAT: Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur
WHERE: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
WHEN: Sunday, January 15th 8:30 am PST | 11:30 am EST | 5:30 pm BST
HOW TO WATCH: Streaming live on Peacock

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