Arsenal host Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Both sides picked up impressive Europa League victories on Thursday night in their round of 16 first leg ties. Mikel Arteta will want a good result have lost in embarrassing fashion in the reverse fixture whilst Jose Mourinho has his side just five points off the top four having played a match less. Arsenal are hoping to end a five match run without beating their North London rivals.
Arsenal have found some good form of late having lost 2-1 at Wolves and 1-0 at Aston Villa at the beginning of February. The Gunners have since beaten Leeds and Leicester in the Premier League but also lost to Man City at home and drew 1-1 at Burnley.
In the Europa League, they beat Benfica 3-2 at home and they won 3-1 in Greece against Olympiakos on Thursday. Their last four matches in all competitions have seen three wins and a draw with ten goals scored.
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal have a clean bill of health right now after Emile Smith Rowe shook off an injury to feature against Olympiakos. There is not one single injury for Mikel Arteta to deal with plus he managed to get Thomas Partey off the pitch early on Thursday to be fresh for this match.
It seems the only real selection questions are at centre back, where it’s Pablo Mari or Gabriel alongside David Luiz, at in attacking midfield areas where Willian could be selected to start again. Cedric Soares will also be hoping for a recall at right back but Hector Bellerin was excellent on Thursday.
With the travelling from Athens and the short turnaround, some rotation would be ideal but Arteta doesn’t really have the depth for that.
Arsenal will be very motivated for this match but frankly, the Europa League has to be higher priority now with a trophy up for grabs and a UEFA Champions League place. The Gunners will have some specific plans for Spurs’ counter attacks and will hopefully have learnt from conceding in that fashion in the reverse fixture.
Arteta would probably be satisfied with a draw and no injuries and keeping the momentum and confidence of his side high.
Having been on a disastrous run of form – six defeats in seven domestic matches – many had already started writing the managerial obituary of Jose Mourinho. The coach has turned things around dramatically with six wins in 16 days.
That run has included thrashing Burnley 4-0 at home, winning 1-0 away at Fulham, a 4-1 home victory against Crystal Palace and then Thursday’s 2-0 home win against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa league.
The upturn in form has come with Mourinho using a front four and just two central midfielders. This didn’t initially bring an improvement in results but Gareth Bale bagging braces against Burnley and Palace in addition to Kane, Son and another attacker (Lucas Moura or Erik Lamela or Dele Alli) starting has made Tottenham a lot more enterprising since their poor 1-0 home defeat to Chelsea.
Tottenham Team News
Spurs’ only injury concern for this match is Gio Lo Celso who has a back injury after other problems. Mourinho rotated his side on Thursday and all of Toby Alderweireld, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Sergio Reguilón are expected to return and be fully fresh. Gareth Bale is also likely to start having barely had a kick in match against the “big six” this season.
Harry Kane went off with a slight knock to the knee in midweek but Jose Mourinho expects him to be fit and it’s very unlikely he will miss the match.
In recent weeks, Mourinho has been hinting at prioritising the Europa League as an easier route to Champions League football. However, three recent league wins has cut the gap to fourth to just five points with a game in hand. The coach therefore needs to go all out for the victory in this match and that possibly explains his team selection in midweek.
For most big games, Mourinho parks the bus and plays on the counter attack but his Spurs side have been more enterprising of late and he could look to start Bale and Alli and play 4-2-3-1 in an attacking setup.
Arsenal have won 3 of their last 4 matches
Arsenal have won 2 of their last 7 PL matches
Arsenal have lost 5 of their last 6 matches after playing in the Europa League
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 8 goals in his last 10 matches
Spurs have won their last 5 matches in all competitions
Tottenham have won their last 3 PL matches
Spurs have seen over 2.5 goals in 4 of their last 5 PL matches
Spurs are five matches unbeaten against Arsenal (3W, 2D)
Harry Kane has scored 11 goals in his last 12 matches against Arsenal
The Europa League throws a spanner in the works for this match as both sides played on Thursday night. Spurs have an advantage in that regard after resting 3-4 players and playing at home whilst Arsenal have to travel back from Greece. Tottenham have a good recent record against Arsenal and tipping them to take a narrow victory could be a good call or perhaps a score draw.