Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup Third Round

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, January 4
12:15 p.m. EST, 17:15 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Mark Clattenburg
    • Assistants: Peter Kirkup and Simon Bennett
    • 4th Official: Martin Atkinson
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 72 Arsenal wins, 54 Tottenham wins, 45 draws
  • All-Time in the FA Cup: 3 Arsenal wins, 2 Tottenham wins
  • Arsenal's League Form: D-L-D-W-W-W
  • Tottenham's League Form: W-L-W-D-W-W
  • Weather: Light Rain, 6 C / 43 F
I don't think there's much I need to say here in this introduction for you to realize the magnitude of this match. You know it and I know it. It's the magic of the FA Cup plus the anxiety of the North London derby. It doesn't get much bigger than this (aside from, I suppose, meeting in later rounds of the cup or in Europe...)

Let's keep North London red.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Bendtner (ankle,) Ramsey (thigh,) Sanogo (back,) Diaby (knee)
Doubts: Gibbs (hamstring,) Giroud (ankle,) Ozil (shoulder,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee)

Bendtner giveth, then Marshall taketh Bendtner away.
Here come the questions. Will Kieran Gibbs be back? Is Olivier Giroud available? Could we use Mesut Ozil in a pinch, if the situation requires his presence? How much rotation will there be in the side? Is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain available yet? It's almost impossible to know how Arsene Wenger will answer these questions.

We do know some things for sure. Goal scoring hero Nicklas Bendtner had approximately three seconds to enjoy his winner over Cardiff before David Marshall landed on his ankle; the Dane is now set to miss "weeks" through injury. There's no certain timetable on Aaron Ramsey, which is still really worrying. Yaya Sanogo is a few weeks away, I think. Abou Diaby is out until March, I believe. Possibly March 2016, though, who knows?

As for some of those questions above, I've heard Ozil might be available but I don't suspect he'll be risked. If Olivier Giroud misses his second straight match through injury, Arsenal will be left with zero target players of his type, now that Bendtner is out. I had heard Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was hoping to return for this match, but I don't know how accurate that information was. I would consider it a tremendous but pleasant surprise if he returned.

Regarding the line-up we'll actually see, I don't really feel comfortable making any guesses. I'm only about 85% certain that there'll be rotation, and given the opponent, there won't be much of it if there is.

Tottenham Squad News

Out: Vertonghen (ankle,) Sandro (calf,) Paulinho (ankle,) Kaboul (thigh,) Townsend (hamstring)
Doubts: Defoe (hamstring,) Adebayor, Holtby, Sigurdsson (all knocks)

Shown here are Howard Webb and Emmanuel Adebayor.
You might recall Webb sending off Adebayor in the second
5-2 match at the Emirates. Ah, memories...
Emmanuel Adebayor, who has seen a resurgence under Tim Sherwood to surely make all Arsenal supporters recoil, was stretchered off from Wednesday's win at Old Trafford after 70 minutes. His availability for tomorrow's cup tie is a doubt. It's a really big loss for Tim Sherwood, as Adebayor has scored four goals in five games since Sherwood took over. Other doubts for Spurs, due to knocks and the like, include Jermain Defoe (who may or may not be in the MLS quite soon,) Lewis Holtby, and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

As for the long term injured, both Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul have returned to light training. Paulinho is expected to miss four weeks with ankle ligament damage suffered against Stoke last weekend. Sandro has not played since the loss against Liverpool, from which he was subbed off after half an hour. Andros Townsend has not played since the League Cup loss to West Ham, from which he was subbed off after 73 minutes.

Current Form

By my count, I said "Damn it, Theo" ten times in the first
half on Wednesday, but we sang the phrase ironically
after his goal.
Arsenal have recovered from their December struggles to win three straight matches, and Carlton Cole's goal from Szczesny's bobble is the only goal Arsenal have conceded in their last four matches, after shipping six against Manchester City. Meanwhile, after Tottenham sacked Andre Villas-Boas on December 16, Spurs crashed out of the League Cup to West Ham in their first match under Tim Sherwood. Since then, Spurs are unbeaten: they won 3-2 away to a slowly, but surely crumbling from injuries Southampton, they drew West Bromwich Albion 1-1 at home on Boxing Day, they beat a Stoke side still dealing with the effects of ten million red cards against Newcastle 3-0, and they won at Old Trafford 2-1 on New Year's Day, a feat of which I am mildly jealous.

The question is, have Spurs really turned it around with Sherwood at the helm? The jury is still out on that. It's easy to see that this is a match between two sides that are rounding into form again and tomorrow's result might have a very lasting impact on how the rest of the season plays out, even if it's not a Premier League encounter; it's all about keeping the ball rolling, so to speak.

Match Facts

Robert Pires scores the winning goal in the 2001 FA Cup
Recent history should dictate that Arsenal have the advantage: at Highbury/the Emirates in the Premier League era, Arsenal have a record of 13 wins, 2 losses, and 7 draws against Tottenham, including three straight victories, two of them by 5-2 scorelines. In FA Cup history, Arsenal and Spurs have met five times, with Arsenal winning three and Tottenham winning two. The last three meetings between the sides in the FA Cup came in semi-finals; the first two came in the third round, like tomorrow's match.

In 1949, Arsenal beat Second Division Spurs 3-0 at Highbury in the third round. In the 1982 third round, Spurs won 1-0 at White Hart Lane (and went on to win the trophy.) In 1991, the sides met in the semi-final at Wembley; Paul Gascoigne hit a brilliant free kick and Gary Lineker scored twice as Spurs won 3-1 (and went on to win the trophy again.) In 1993, however, it was Arsenal that would win the semi-final at Wembley, 1-0, and go on to win the trophy. Arsenal again beat Spurs in the semi-final in 2001, that time at Old Trafford, though they went on to lose the final to Liverpool.

So, to recap, Arsenal and Spurs have met five times in the FA Cup and on three of those occasions, the winner won the trophy in the end (though, that was largely aided by three of the meetings being semi-finals.)

The Referee

The referee is County Durham-based Mark Clattenburg. Arsenal, historically, have a strong record with Clatts in the middle, though that record is not as strong in North London derbies, but I'll get to that. Arsenal have won twice with Clattenburg so far this year, 2-1 at Swansea and 2-0 over Southampton. Tottenham, however, have won three matches with Clattenburg this season, 1-0 at Crystal Palace, 1-0 at Cardiff, and 2-1 at Fulham. Clattenburg has taken charge of four North London derbies in his career; Arsenal won the first two (3-1 at the Lane in 2007 and 3-0 at the Emirates in 2009) and Spurs have won the most recent two (both 2-1 at the Lane, in 2010 and 2013.)

However, many Tottenham fans' strongest memory of Clattenburg will be from 2010 at Old Trafford, when he allowed Nani to score for United when Heurelho Gomes failed to realize the ball was live instead of a free kick for Spurs after Nani had handled the ball. Most agree, in retrospect, that the fault was with Gomes for not realizing play had never been stopped; Clattenburg never blew his whistle in the confusion.

Around the Third Round
  • Second Round Tie, Saturday: Crawley Town v. Bristol Rovers; Stadium, Crawley
    • Winner plays Tuesday: Birmingham City v. Crawley/Bristol Rovers; St. Andrew's, Birmingham
  • Saturday (early): Blackburn Rovers v. Manchester City; Ewood Park, Blackburn
  • Saturday: AFC Bournemouth v. Burton Albion; Dean Court, Bournemouth
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. Sheffield United; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Barnsley v. Coventry City; Oakwell Stadium, Barnsley
  • Saturday: Bolton Wanderers v. Blackpool; Reebok Stadium, Bolton
  • Saturday: Brighton & Hove Albion v. Reading; American Express Community Stadium, Brighton
  • Saturday: Bristol City v. Watford; Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol
  • Saturday: Charlton Athletic v. Oxford United; The Valley, London
  • Saturday: Doncaster Rovers v. Stevenage; Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
  • Saturday: Everton v. Queens Park Rangers; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Saturday: Grimsby Town v. Huddersfield Town; Blundell Park, Cleethorpes
  • Saturday: Ipswich Town v. Preston North End; Portman Road, Ipswich
  • Saturday: Kidderminster Harriers v. Peterborough United; Aggborough Stadium, Kidderminster
  • Saturday: Macclesfield Town v. Sheffield Wednesday; Moss Rose Stadium, Macclesfield
  • Saturday: Middlesbrough v. Hull City; Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
  • Saturday: Newcastle United v. Cardiff City; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Saturday: Norwich City v. Fulham; Carrow Road, Norwich
  • Saturday: Rochdale v. Leeds United; Spotland Stadium, Rochdale
  • Saturday: Southampton v. Burnley; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Saturday: Southend United v. Millwall; Roots Hall, Southend-on-Sea
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Leicester City; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Crystal Palace; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Saturday: Wigan Athletic v. Milton Keynes Dons; DW Stadium, Wigan
  • Saturday: Yeovil Town v. Leyton Orient; Huish Park, Yeovil
  • Sunday (very early): Nottingham Forest v. West Ham United; City Ground, Nottingham
  • Sunday (early): Sunderland v. Carlisle United; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Sunday (early): Derby County v. Chelsea; iPro Stadium, Derby
  • Sunday: Liverpool v. Oldham Athletic; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Sunday: Port Vale v. Plymouth Argyle; Vale Park, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunday (late): Manchester United v. Swansea City; Old Trafford, Manchester