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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Gunners face north London rivals at perfect time

Alexis Sanchez is in fine scoring form for Arsenal
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Premier League
BT Sport 1, midday

Arsenal are the only team in Premier League history to stay unbeaten for an entire season and they can protect that status for another year by defeating Tottenham at the Emirates.

Spurs go into today’s match as the only undefeated side in the top flight but they have not won any of their last six in all competitions and suffered a major setback at Wembley on Wednesday when losing 1-0 to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

Harry Kane is back in the Spurs squad for the first time since sustaining an ankle injury in mid-September but is unlikely to be ready to start the game and Spurs have been finding it increasingly difficult to be effective without their star attacker.

Heung-Min Son filled the breach for a while with two goals in a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough and the only goal in a 1-0 success away to CSKA Moscow but the South Korean’s performances have dipped and he was withdrawn during the second of Tottenham’s desperately poor effort against Leverkusen.

Christian Eriksen was also substituted in midweek but there were plenty of others who struggled.

Right-back Kyle Walker produced an error-strewn performance which was by far his worst of the season, Moussa Sissoko failed to make an impact on the right flank and there was very little encouragement from any of the three substitutes – Vincent Janssen, Harry Winks and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou.

Spurs were understrength on the night with Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Kane injured and Danny Rose rested.

But of those only Rose is likely to return to the starting line-up and Spurs could be without influential midfielder Mousa Dembele, who limped off with an ankle knock before the half-hour mark against Leverkusen.

The upshot is Arsenal are meeting Spurs at the perfect time and are value to get the win despite a contraction in their odds from 11-10 to 20-21.

While Spurs are going through their roughest patch of the season, the Gunners look close to their best, having chalked up ten wins in their last 11 matches.

Their squad is getting stronger with Olivier Giroud back from injury with three goals in three appearances and Aaron Ramsey two games into his return from a ten-week layoff.

And key players are playing at close to their peak.

Alexis Sanchez has scored seven goals in his last ten games including two in last Saturday’s 4-1 win at Sunderland while Mesut Ozil has netted five goals in five matches since the last international break.

If those two continue to perform at the levels they have shown in recent weeks, Arsenal could be major players in the title race.

Arsene Wenger’s side are 11-2 to finish top of the pile, while Spurs are as big as 16-1 despite being only three points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

The long-term outlook for Spurs remains bright because none of their injuries are long-term and the current crisis of confidence is likely to be temporary.

However, they are unfortunate to be going into a massive north London derby in the worst shape they have been in all season and are going to find it very difficult to take anything out of the game.

2pts 20-21 Betfred, BoyleSports

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While Spurs are going through their roughest patch of the season, the Gunners look close to their best, having chalked up ten wins in their last 11 matches
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