Preview by Numbers: Tottenham Hotspur v. Arsenal

White Hart Lane, London
Sunday, April 30
11:30 a.m. EDT, 16:30 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Michael Oliver
    • Assistants: Simon Bennett and Jake Collin
    • 4th Official: Andre Marriner
  • Reverse Fixture: Arsenal 1 - 1 Tottenham
  • This Match, Last Year: Tottenham 2 - 2 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 75 Arsenal wins, 55 Tottenham wins, 49 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: L-D-W-L-W-W
  • Tottenham's League Form: W-W-W-W-W-W
It's times like these when you have to remember that all wins count the same. Wednesday's ugly-as-all-hell 1-0 win over Leicester City gave Arsenal consecutive wins in the league for the first time in three months (January 14 and 22 over Swansea and Burnley.) With it, Arsenal's odds of finishing in the Champions League places improved from 7.3% to 11.2%. It's a start!

We're down to six cup finals to go before the FA Cup Final and there may be no bigger fixture on the list than this one, Arsenal's final trip to White Hart Lane to face a Tottenham side that have won eight on the bounce in league play. An Arsenal win here will not only boost their own odds of finishing this year decently, but it will also seriously dent Tottenham's challenge for the title, which still has a 16% chance of happening.

They say form goes out the window in a derby, but let's hope Arsenal can retain some of the confidence that would naturally have come from finally remembering how to win football matches.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Pérez (thigh,) Cazorla (Achilles)
Doubts: Koscielny (knee,) Mustafi (thigh,) Ospina (back)

Arsenal will have to sweat over the fitness of Laurent Koscielny, who buckled late in the second half against Leicester on Wednesday after jumping to head the ball, without any pressure from a player around him. Shkodran Mustafi remains a doubt with a thigh problem as well, meaning Arsenal may have to choose from a slew of secondary options to fill out the middle of their backline, whether it comprise three players or four. I'm optimistic about Koscielny, though, as he was able to finish the match.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a foot problem between the FA Cup tie and the Leicester City game but made the bench on Wednesday, so I would expect he's fit again to start. It's as you were with the rest of the players: Santi Cazorla's season appears done, Lucas Pérez remains a mystery, and David Ospina may or may not be close to returning, though he'll only make the bench anyway.

I suppose there's some question over who you start at center forward: Arsène Wenger had been using Olivier Giroud since switching formations, then played Theo Walcott in a fit of rotation on Wednesday. Danny Welbeck is certainly an option, too.

Who gives you the better look against a Tottenham side that also plays three at the back? I have to say, it looked like the way Arsenal played against Leicester, they were desperately in need of a man to pump crosses to, not a speedster like Theo.

Predicted XI: Čech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Özil, Alexis, Giroud.

Tottenham Squad News

Out: Lamela (hip,) Winks (ankle,) Vorm (knee,) Carter-Vickers (knee)
Doubts: Rose (match fitness,) Dembélé (ankle)

Danny Rose, who first made his name in his fixture in 2010 when he scored a bullet from distance after Manuel Almunia punched out a cross and now I'm rambling... anyway, Rose has not featured since January due to a knee injury. Reports seem to indicate that he'll be back for this one.

Mousa Dembélé, who drew the penalty that led to Spurs' goal in the reverse fixture, was removed at halftime from their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday with an ankle problem. That moves him into the "doubts" category here as well.

There are four players out for Tottenham, including backup goalkeeper Michel Vorm, Erik Lamela, who hasn't played since October, and two younger talents, Harry Winks, whose season is over through ankle ligament damage, and Cameron Carter-Vickers, out with a knee injury.

Predicted XI: Lloris, Alderweireld, Dier, Vertonghen, Walker, Rose, Dembélé, Wanywama, Dele, Eriksen, Kane.

Current Form

Arsenal have won three straight (yes, yes, one needed extra time, but psychologically speaking, you can call it a win) for the first time since January when they won four in a row across all competitions. It's hard to even imagine that Arsenal's 19-game unbeaten run from August to November was even this season. Still, it's something to build on as Arsenal push for a return to the top four.

Tottenham's league record, on the other hand, has been perfect for almost three months. The last time Spurs dropped points in a Premier League fixture was February 11 at Anfield. Since then, it's eight wins from eight, over Stoke, Everton, Southampton, Burnley, Swansea, Watford, Bournemouth, and Crystal Palace. That explains how they've cut the gap to four points at the top. Following this fixture, they'll still have to play West Ham at the Olympic Stadium, Manchester United in the final game at White Hart Lane, Leicester City at the King Power, and Hull City, who might still be fighting for their Premier League survival, on the final day of the regular season on Humberside.

As for Chelsea's remaining schedule in the title race, they play at Everton on Sunday, then are home to Middlesbrough, travel to West Brom, then host Watford and Sunderland at the Bridge to close out the season. It seems unlikely that the Blues would fail to win those home games, meaning Spurs would need Chelsea to drop points from both of their road fixtures.

Match Facts

At White Hart Lane on March 16, 2014, Tomáš Rosický slammed in a goal after 72 seconds and Arsenal hung on for dear life for the remaining 88 minutes as the Gunners escaped the North London derby with a 1-0 win, their third win in three matches of Spurs that season. Since that match, Arsenal have failed to beat Tottenham in the league, winning only their third round League Cup tie in 2015 by a 2-1 scoreline, as Mathieu Flamini, of all people, scored twice.

In the reverse fixture at the Emirates in November, Arsenal blew a 1-0 halftime lead to draw 1-1. It was the venerable own goal that put Arsenal on the board back then, as Kevin Wimmer directed the ball into his own net on 42 minutes. Spurs equalized from the penalty spot in the second half after Laurent Koscielny tripped Mousa Dembélé in the box. It was the first time Mark Clattenburg had ever given a penalty against Arsenal.

In this corresponding fixture last season, Arsenal also led 1-0 through Aaron Ramsey at halftime, but Francis Coquelin was sent off for a clumsy second yellow on 55 minutes. Tottenham made the Gunners pay for their red card, as Toby Alderweireld scored on the hour mark and Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead two minutes later. Arsenal, however, were level on 76 minutes through Alexis Sánchez and looked the more likely to find a winner, even with ten men, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw that damaged both sides' title hopes.

Since Arsenal's 3-1 win in 2007, the Gunners have lost four league fixtures at the Lane, drawn three, and won just once.

The Referee

The referee is Northumberland-based Michael Oliver. Arsenal's history with Michael Oliver is a bit of a reversal from the usual situation with referees: normally, you only remember the calls that go against you and don't realize how good your record is with certain refs. Case in point, Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 10 games with Anthony Taylor and, way back when, never lost a home game with Howard Webb in charge.

With Oliver, people will always remember that FA Cup quarterfinal at Old Trafford when he didn't get duped by any of United's tactical falling. They'll remember the 3-0 win over Chelsea earlier this year when he didn't put up with any of Diego Costa's tactics, too.

They won't come to realize that Arsenal's record overall with Oliver is quite poor. They won't remember that he was the referee that sent off Coquelin from this fixture last year, then failed to send off Eric Dier for a second yellow card offense later in the same match. They won't realize he was the referee for the season opening loss to Liverpool, the damaging 3-3 draw at Bournemouth, or the 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace earlier this month.

They won't realize Arsenal's league record with Michael Oliver currently stands at three wins, seven draws, and seven losses.

Spurs, on the other hand, have 10 wins, five draws, and six losses in league games involving Oliver. They've won four out of five with him this year, beating Crystal Palace, Watford, Everton, and Bournemouth; the other match was a 2-1 loss at Chelsea in November.

Around the League
  • Saturday: Southampton v. Hull City; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. West Ham United; Bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Saturday: Sunderland v. Bournemouth; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Leicester City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Saturday (late): Crystal Palace v. Burnley; Selhurst Park, London
  • Sunday (very early): Manchester United v. Swansea City; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Sunday (early): Everton v. Chelsea; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Sunday (early): Middlesbrough v. Manchester City; Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
  • Monday (night): Watford v. Liverpool; Vicarage Road, Watford
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and is made of candy. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat for calorie information.