Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal- live


TOTTENHAM 0 ARSENAL 0 (Kick off 16.00)

14.35 This enterprising fellow is doing a roaring trade near White Hart Lane:

14.15 Jeremy Wilson's piece on Arsène Wenger's state of mind is entirely worthwhile pre-match reading. Here's a snippet:

Wenger has only actually lost five of those previous 39 derbies but he knows that his team’s ascendancy over Tottenham – and with it their cherished place among English football’s top four – has never been more seriously threatened. His once revered methods have also never faced more scrutiny. And, with his contract expiring next year, Wenger’s own position has never been the subject of more fervent debate.

14.00 Several of Telegraph Sport's key players are tweeting in anticipation:

Twitter: Paul Hayward - It's a 9-2 shot that Gareth Bale will start next season at Real Madrid. Without Daniel Levy it'd probably be shorter than that. Spurs - 2-7.

Twitter: Henry Winter - Walking into White Hart Lane. Rarely seen or heard so many touts before a game this season as today. 20+. #thfc #afc #nld

Twitter: Jeremy Wilson - Same reaction from Kroenke and Usmanov today ... no offer yet and they won't sell.

13.30 Afternoon liveblog fans.

Spurs reliably jinx themselves ahead of their most monumental meetings with Arsenal, with a Tottenham player usually saying that he firmly believes that their squad is now superior to Arsenal's.

That can surely be in no doubt this time around. Who would you rather have, Kyle Naughton or Carl Jenkinson? Scott Parker or Aaron Ramsey? Gylfi Sigurdsson or Gervinho? You can make an argument about all three but, really, it's Naughton, Parker, and Sigurdsson, isn't it?

To arrest this worrying slide towards institutionalised mediocrity Arsenal need a change in approach. An obvious one presented itself in this morning's Sunday Telegraph, the £1.5bn bid that Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov are about to receive for their shares.

They are, apparently not up for selling. And Arsène Wenger's not really up for buying. So the slide of their team is likely to continue.

Except Arsenal tend to do enough to sneak into the Champions League. And Spurs have been full of pride before receiving a sharp kick of realism many times before. And there's that seductive "funny feeling" about football delivering surprise results when there's a critical mass of praise for one team and derision for their opponent.

It's an intriguing game, one that it's hard to see Arsenal winning, but one which they might have to if they're to stop Gareth Bale, Andre Villas Boas and that dastardly cockerel disappearing over the horizon and into the lucrative sunset.

Build up, news and teams are all to follow. Then a football match. Stay tuned.

Shall we read a preview together? I think so:

Saturday, March 2

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal White Hart Lane Kick-off: 15.00 GMT. TV: Highlights BBC ONE Match of the Day.

Tottenham (Possible, 4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Gallas, Naughton; Lennon, Dembélé, Parker, Bale; Defoe, Adebayor. Out: Huddlestone, Kaboul, Sandro (all knee), Dempsey (calf).

Arsenal (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal; Arteta, Ramsey; Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla; Giroud. Out: Gibbs (thigh), Sagna (knee). Test: Diaby (calf).

Referee: Mark Clattenburg. Matches: 15. R6 Y45.

Betting: Home 6-5, Away 9-5, Draw 9-4.

Team News Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe has recovered from an ankle injury and is in contention for Sunday's north London derby.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas must decide whether to start the striker or risk Emmanuel Adebayor, who was sent off afer 18 minutes of the reverse fixture in November.

Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Tom Huddlestone are all absent with knee injuries while Clint Dempsey is also missing due to a calf problem.

Arsenal will be without defender Bacary Sagna.

Midfielder Abou Diaby is rated as 50/50 with a calf problem.

Defender Kieran Gibbs remains out with a thigh injury.

Match Notes The second north London derby of last season was a defining moment for both clubs.

Arsenal unexpectedly won 5-2 and, from a once 10-point deficit, overhauled Tottenham and again qualified for the Champions League.

The gap this time is only four points but the challenge that awaits Arsenal tomorrow feels somehow more daunting.

Gareth Bale is having the influence for Tottenham that Robin van Persie achieved last season for Arsenal and, under Andre Villas-Boas, there is a heightened resilience and gathering momentum.

Arsenal will do well to draw.

Stat of the game: Both teams play their 800th game in the Premier League. In the previous 799, Spurs have won 309 while Arsenal boast 428 victories.

Jeremy Wilson's prediction: Tottenham Hostpur 3 Arsenal 2


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