Arsenal – Tottenham (FA Cup)
The third round of the FA Cup has a London Derby. On Saturday, at tea time, Arsenal host Tottenham Hotspur for the unrevealing of a classic rivalry. Of course both Wenger and Sherwood have a lot on their plates right now regarding their main goal of the season, the Premier League. Table, opposition, points, schedule, fatigue, injuries and winter market, all at play simultaneously in several different chess boards and you can’t lose sight of any of them. You do you think can juggle these many balls better?
With injuries piling up, specially up front, Wenger can’t really seize the opportunity to rest the key players. Sagna and Mertesaker have been starting almost every game and certainly need a break. Jenkinson and Vermaelen are likely substitutes.
Nicklas Bendtner was forced out of in New Year’s Day with a notch to his ankle moments after the 88′ hit that open the score for the 2-0 victory over Cardiff. He is confirmed out of the clash against the Spurs. Giroud’s ankle issue was evolving positively but he fell hill and is 90% off for Saturday. The lack of options for the attack is inadmissible for a side that has title ambitions. Lukas Podolski will probably have a chance to play centre forward facing the Spurs. He is only just returning from injury but the truth is there’s no one else. Meantime, Arsène Wenger is scout the market for reinforcements, the strongest names in the media being Dimitar Berbatov and Álvaro Morata. Ozil will be tested before the match, Gibbs and Ramsey are definitely out, along with Diaby and Sanogo.
Probable line-up: Szczesny – Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Monreal – Arteta, Flamini – Walcott, Rosicky, Wilshere – Podolski.
Wednesday was Tim Sherwood fourth match leading Tottenham and so far it sums up to no defeats, 10 points and 9 goals, including a 1-2 victory at Old Trafford. The icing on the cake being that it allowed the Spurs to leapfrog Man U in the Premier League table. They are now 6th, with 37 points, 2 apart the top four squads. Sherwood’s determination to change into a 4-4-2 formation has helped the team play in counterattack. Starting Adebayor alongside Soldado allows the Spaniard to roam outside the box to get the ball. He’s not looking isolated and lost up front any more, he is getting involved with his team-mates. True, the goals are still scarce but at least now him and the squad have other options. The Togolese was forced out of the pitch due to injury and is not clear yet if he’ll be fit to help the team. Nacer Chadli came in to replace him but he was never able to cause the same problems to United’s defence. Fortunately for the Spurs the aches won’t keep Adebayor out of the clash against his former club.
Andros Townsend and Defoe resumed training but it’s probably too soon for them. Vertonghen, Sandro, Paulinho, Kaboul, Lamela, Sigurdsson and Naughton will all be watching from the sidelines. Holtby is doubtful.
Probable line-up: Lloris – Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose – Lennon, Dembélé, Capoue, Eriksen – Soldado, Adebayor.
I doubt any of the two sides are heading into this FA Cup tie with their hearts in it, they have a lot on their minds. But when the ball starts rolling on Saturday I bet everything else will disappear. A derby is always a derby and no one wants to go home tasting defeat.