Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Arsenal v Spurs Premiership Preview: Can Redknapp End 15-Year Highbury/Emirates Winless Streak For Tottenham?

Arsenal, play Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will go into this North London derby full of confidence that his Gunners side can maintain their unbeaten run at home against their bitter rivals, which goes back to 1993 and their previous stadium Highbury. Arsenal have won their last two games in the league against West Ham United at Upton Park on Sunday and Everton at the Emirates last weekend. However, despite Spurs’ poor record over the last 15-years at their local rivals and being bottom of the Premiership, Wenger will be wary of the galvanising effect new Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp can have on a team. Something the new Spurs boss has shown at his spells at both West Ham and Portsmouth.

Tottenham recorded their first win of the campaign at White Hart Lane on Sunday against Bolton Wanderers, with Redknapp taking his place in the dugout after a busy weekend, which saw Spurs sack Spaniard Juande Ramos and Redknapp leave Portsmouth to take the helm at a Tottenham side that had forgotten how to win under Ramos. The 2-0 win against the Trotters has seen a new mood around the Lane, but whether Redknapp can pull off something special at the Emirates or is in for a rude awakening in the North London derby remains to be seen, with the former Hammers boss likely to be happy to take anything away from the game.

Wenger has confirmed that Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure and Brazilian Denilson will all be in the squad after overcoming injuries, with Sagna and Toure only making the bench for the win against West Ham, but the Frenchman did not reveal if the trio would start.

“Denilson is back in the group after a little inflammation in the back,” said Wenger at Tuesday's pre-match press conference.

“Sagna was back in the group at West Ham and Kolo is back too but you will have to wait and see the selection tomorrow night.”

Should Denilson not start then Abou Diaby may partner Cesc Fabregas in midfield, with Theo Walcott also likely to start. Emmanuel Adebayor came off the bench against the Hammers to make a difference on Sunday and should start ahead of Nicklas Bendtner. Croatian International Eduardo is still around a month away from competitive football, while Tomas Rosicky continues to remain on the sidelines with his long-term hamstring troubles.

Redknapp saw the best of Luka Modric, by playing the Croatian behind striker Roman Pavlyuchenko against Bolton and looks set to keep it that way, with the former Pompey boss claiming that it is the playmaker’s best position.

“I felt that's his position, behind the front man,” Redknapp said.

“That's where he needs to play so that's where we decided to play him against Bolton. If you give him the ball, he'll do special things and has got great awareness. And he mucks in as well.”

Captain Ledley King is also in contention to start a third game in a row, something he was not able to do for the best part of the Ramos regime at Tottenham, with the England International optimistic about his chances of leading his side out at the Emirates.

“I felt I could [play two games in succession]. Until you do it, you don't know, but now it's done, hopefully people will stop talking about it,” said King.

“It is important not to get carried away, and I am not about to try to play every game just yet. Will I be able to play at Arsenal on Wednesday? We'll see.”

Pavlyuchenko looks set to start upfront, with Redknapp to decide between Tom Huddlestone and Didier Zokora to partner Jermaine Jenas in midfield. David Bentley is likely to retain his place after being given a start by Redknapp against Bolton, but Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson are still suspended, while Redknapp will also be without Brazilian Gilberto, who has a knee injury. Defender Jonathan Woodgate has a groin strain and is a doubt for the trip to the Gunners.

Redknapp has also handed squad numbers to Paul Stalteri, Hossam Ghaly, Adel Taarabt, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Ricardo Rocha, who were all frozen out under the Ramos reign, since his arrival at White Hart Lane.

Arsenal: (from) Almunia, Eboue, Sagna, Silvestre, Clichy, Gallas, Toure, Djourou, Walcott, Fabregas, Ramsey, Song, Diaby, Denilson, Fabianski, Adebayor, Nasri, Wilshere, van Persie, Bendtner, Randall, Vela, Frimpong, Bischoff, Coquelin, Gibbs, Hoyte, Lansbury, Merida, Simpson

Tottenham Hotspur: (from) Gomes, Corluka, Assou-Ekotto, Gunter, Woodgate, King, Hutton, Rocha, Stalteri, Taarabt, Giovanni, Bentley, Bent, Pavlyuchenko, Modric, Campbell, Jenas, Zokora, Huddlestone, Lennon, O’Hara, Cesar, Prince-Boateng, Hossam Ghaly

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