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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Clubs may have to settle for draw in tight North London derby

Not much to separate rivals

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger takes on Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino
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Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 12.30pm Saturday

Few would dispute there has been a move in the balance of power in north London but that shift towards Tottenham may not be enough for them to celebrate their first success at Arsenal since 2010.

Draws have become the common theme of recent meetings between the arch-rivals with four stalemates in the past six Premier League duels and the Seven Sisters neighbours may have to once again settle for a share of the spoils in a tight betting heat.

It's difficult to argue with the bookmakers' assessment that there is little between the teams on Emirates soil with home advantage making Arsenal slight favourites.

Match previews

Man Utd v Newcastle

Leicester v Man City

The Emirates has been a happy hunting ground for the Gunners, who are unbeaten in 16 home matches and have a perfect league record in front of their own supporters with five wins this season.

However, Leicester, Bournemouth, West BromBrighton and Swansea are nowhere near the level of a Tottenham team who finished second in the Premier League last season and showed their quality by taking four points off Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Spurs have conceded only seven Premier League goals in 11 outings this term and will need to be at their best to nullify Arsenal's strength - the front three of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette.

Questions have been asked of Ozil and Sanchez's commitment but this could be a match to perk them up and Lacazette seems certain to start following his goal off the bench in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City and a brace for France in Germany.

Expert views

Michael Owen

Didi Hamann

Mark Langdon

Arsenal's issues are further back.

They lack the control and tactical expertise of Spurs which is highlighted in the teams' defensive stats. Both sides have scored 20 league goals but Arsenal have conceded nine more.

That spells danger when Tottenham possess the brilliance of Harry Kane, who has scored six goals in as many matches against Arsenal, as well as Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.

Kane and Alli are fresh having sat out England's friendlies with Germany and Brazil, while hat-trick hero Eriksen put on a thrilling masterclass to help Denmark ease past Ireland in a World Cup playoff.

North London derby quiz

Those three could cause havoc unless Arsenal are totally switched on, however, Mauricio Pochettino's team don't always turn up for these elite clashes away from home.

Pochettino has not lost a Premier League derby against Arsenal since arriving at Spurs in 2014, although at the same time he has led Tottenham to just one win away to fellow top-six opponents in that time in 16 attempts.

1pt 13-5 general

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Team news
Olivier Giroud joins Santi Cazorla on the sidelines. Shkodran Mustafi and Danny Welbeck need to be checked.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm are expected to overcome injuries. Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama are out.

Key stat
This fixture has seen both teams score on 34 occasions - the most frequent BTTS game in Premier League history.

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Pochettino has not lost a Premier League derby against Arsenal since arriving at Spurs in 2014
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