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Tottenham to wrestle supremacy from their north London rivals

Gunners can play their part in a White Hart Lane thriller

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for Tottenham at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on November 6, 2016
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Premier League
Sky Sports 1, 4.30pm Sunday

Arsenal fans arguably had more reason to grumble than their visitors after the last renewal of the north London derby, but neither set of supporters could complain too bitterly about a 1-1 draw that offered more in the way of intensity and desire than it did in quality or control. 

Six months on, however, and a Gunners side locked in a chase for the top four will look back in despair at two vital points dropped, and may also come to rue missing an increasingly rare chance to get one over on their ever-improving neighbours.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham went into that November clash as serious underdogs, with odds of 10-3 for the away win enticing few but the most loyal fans.

Spurs may have arrived as the Premier League's only unbeaten team, but performances had been unconvincing and confidence was waning after a run of three disappointing league stalemates, a pair of damaging Champions League results and a premature exit from the EFL Cup.

Pochettino also went into that match denied key duo Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld, while half-fit talisman Harry Kane was rushed back into service following a seven-week lay-off.

In contrast, Arsene Wenger opened the Emirates gates with his squad full of confidence and his biggest selection headaches being who to leave out, with Santi Cazorla the only key man absent. Arsenal were unbeaten in 15 matches, with 12 wins in that run including a 3-0 drubbing of Chelsea and an impressive 12 goals scored in four Champions League outings.

The roles are now reversed and it is Arsenal who are friendless in the betting. The Gunners head into enemy territory knowing the natives are at fever pitch as they look to see off in style both their 118-year-old stadium and a 22-season-long record of subservience to their fierce rivals.

The latter can be achieved with victory on Sunday, and it is an opportunity that Pochettino and his men will be desperate not to pass up against opponents who have rarely looked so vulnerable.

A three-match winning run adds a thin veneer to Arsenal's recent record but does not convincingly cover the cracks beneath; unconvincing displays were enough to see off Middlesbrough and Leicester, while Manchester City have plenty of reason to curse their fortune in last weekend's FA Cup semi-final defeat.

Wenger will also be concerned about the fitness of centre-back pairing Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, but the bigger worry will be his team's away record.

Arsenal's home results have largely stood firm in the face of adversity this season but their away performances have at times bordered on the shambolic; just three wins in 11 Premier League away games and four defeats in the last five, including three goals conceded at each of Chelsea, Liverpool, West Brom and Crystal Palace.

In the home dugout, Pochettino will be desperate to have Mousa Dembele fit to marshall the midfield and would love to have Danny Rose available, but almost everything else bar points to the home win.

But the derby factor is a serious consideration for bettors as these games are notoriously fickle affairs. Risking big stakes at short prices is dangerous, with the heady mix of adrenaline and nerves sometimes felling even the firmest of favourites.

With that in mind, it might be wise to swerve a winner market in which Tottenham are slowly heading into dangerously short territory and instead place a smaller stake on the bigger price available about Spurs coming out on top in a high-scoring encounter.

If any match is to ignite Arsenal's desire it is this one and even in these troubled times Arsenal are nothing if not entertaining on the road, with each of their last ten away games producing at least three goals.

Desire and commitment is unlikely to be enough for the visitors this weekend, but White Hart Lane's final north London derby looks set to provide a fitting send-off.

Recommended bet
Tottenham to win and over 2.5 goals
2pts 29-20 BoyleSports, Coral

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com

Dan Sait is the Football Editor of the Racing & Football Outlook, out every Thursday. Follow us on Twitter at @rfoutlook

Arsenal's home results have largely stood firm in the face of adversity this term, but their away performances have at times bordered on the shambolic
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