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Preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the North London derby EFL Cup quarter-final between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Just 17 days after playing out a 4-2 thriller, North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur meet again at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.

The Gunners came out on top earlier this month and are bidding for their first trophy under Unai Emery, while Spurs are also chasing their first piece of silverware in Mauricio Pochettino's reign.


Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates Arsenal's crucial third goal with his teammates in the 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur on December 2, 2018© Reuters

Wednesday will mark just two-and-a-half weeks since the Arsenal players did their own impromptu and unwitting version of the Iwo Jima memorial pictured to the right, but victory in this match may spark even wilder celebrations.

Success in the EFL Cup is, of course, secondary to securing a place in the top four of the Premier League, but the prospect of silverware - and denying Spurs silverware en route - means that Emery will not take this match lightly.

Those Premier League hopes took a blow at the weekend as an injury-ravaged Arsenal slumped to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of struggling Southampton, leaving them now three points adrift of the Champions League places.

The loss was Arsenal's first in 23 matches across all competitions, although such a long unbeaten streak has masked some areas of concern for the Gunners.

Chief among them is their slow start to games; remarkably Arsenal have not been leading at half time of a single Premier League match all season, so it is testament to their second-half displays that they still sit as high as fifth.

Questions must also be raised about their defensive record, having conceded 23 goals in their 17 Premier League outings so far - more than 14th-placed Newcastle United and the second-highest tally in the top eight.

There have also been positives from their recent run, of course, and Wednesday's match should conjure up fond and fresh memories of the high point of Emery's reign so far - the derby victory earlier this month.

That result was the first of what is now three successive home wins in all competitions, and they are unbeaten in 13 outings at the Emirates Stadium since their one and only defeat in front of their own fans under Emery.

Both of this season's EFL Cup games have come at the Emirates too, with victories over Brentford and Blackpool, but this match will be a step up both in terms of the level of opposition and the intensity of the game.

Arsenal made it all the way to the final of this competition last season, but for all of their success in the FA Cup under Arsene Wenger, the French boss never lifted this trophy and Arsenal have only got their hands on it twice in their history - most recently in 1992-93.

It would be a good start to the new era if Emery is able to succeed where Wenger never did, then, and if they can thwart Tottenham's long wait for silverware in the process then Saturday's defeat to Southampton will quickly be forgotten.

Recent EFL Cup form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWWL


Tottenham

Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino embrace on December 2, 2018© Reuters

Tottenham are still in the running for all four trophies at this stage of the season, and while the EFL Cup may be at the bottom of that list, it is also their best chance to put the main ghost of Pochettino's tenure to bed.

It is undeniable that Pochettino has improved Spurs - they have averaged more than 74 points per season during his four full ones in charge, compared to 68 per season before, while he has also secured three successive top-three finishes having not seen the club record such a high spot since 1990.

However, detractors are still able to point to the fact that the Argentine has never won a trophy - not just at Spurs but in his entire managerial career.

Few would discredit the work he has done at Tottenham on that basis, but it is certainly a monkey he would like to get off his back and this is the competition in which Spurs have had the most success in the past few decades.

Tottenham's last two pieces of silverware have been the League Cup, but the last time they got their hands on it was in 2008 when Juande Ramos's side beat Chelsea in extra time.

Unlike Arsenal, Spurs have had to battle past Premier League opposition to make it this far, needing penalties to overcome Watford before beating more London rivals in the shape of West Ham United in the last round.

The latter result was the first of an ongoing run of just one defeat in 11 matches for Tottenham, including nine wins and a draw at Camp Nou which sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Spurs will not need reminding that the only blot on their copybook in that time came at the very ground they travel to on Wednesday, though, as they fell to defeat in the Premier League North London derby at the start of this month.

Revenge as well as progress will be on the agenda for Pochettino's side, then, and they will go into the match sitting five points clear of their neighbours in the Premier League table courtesy of their late 1-0 triumph over Burnley on Saturday.

It will likely take a better performance to come away with another win in this one, and regardless of their points lead in the league, losing a second derby in a month and seeing their best chance of silverware ended at the hands of their fiercest rivals would give Arsenal the local bragging rights heading into Christmas.

Recent EFL Cup form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWDW


Team News

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates Arsenal's opening goal in their Europa League tie with Qarabag FK on December 13, 2018© Reuters

Both teams must try to strike the balance between rotation and respecting the opposition for this derby, and must also do so when battling against a growing injury list.

Arsenal lost Hector Bellerin to a calf problem at the weekend as the Spaniard joined fellow defenders Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding on the sidelines, while Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac are also major doubts.

The return of Laurent Koscielny has been timely, but Emery may not have wanted to start him in two games within four days at this stage of his recovery - something which may be forced upon him due to a lack of other options.

There is good news in that Sokratis Papastathopoulos is available to return from suspension, though, which should enable Emery to move away from the makeshift three-man defence which did not work at Southampton.

Arsenal also have the depth to be able to bring in the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey now, none of whom started at the weekend.

Spurs have also been ravaged by injury in defence, with Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen definitely out and Juan Foyth, Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier all doubtful for this match.

Ben Davies was forced to play as an emergency centre-back on Saturday and may carry out the role again should one of Foyth and Sanchez not recover in time.

Oliver Skipp impressed on his Premier League debut against Burnley and could continue in midfield for this one, while the magnitude of the match could mean that the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli also retain their places.

Christian Eriksen came off the bench to score the winner at Wembley on Saturday and Pochettino must decide whether to start the Dane amid concerns about an ongoing stomach issue.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Ramsey; Lacazette

Tottenham possible starting lineup:
Vorm; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Foyth, Davies; Winks, Skipp; Son, Alli, Lucas; Kane


Head To Head

This will be the 184th edition of the North London derby, and Arsenal lead the overall record with 77 wins to Tottenham's 57.

The most recent of those came in that 4-2 thriller earlier this month, but things have been a lot more even during Pochettino's reign at Spurs, with the two sides winning three games apiece and drawing four across all competitions since the Argentine's arrival.

Tottenham have not won at the Emirates since 2010, though, and in this competition Spurs have only ever won three of the 13 meetings - including a 2-1 defeat most recently in September 2015 when Mathieu Flamini helped himself to a rare brace.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham

There are a lot of variables for this contest which make it hard to predict; how strong will each lineup be? How badly will either defence be affected by their injuries? However, Arsenal are coming off the back of a defeat which exposed some of their flaws, and Spurs have the players capable of pulling off their first away derby win in eight years.


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Who will progress from Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final between Arsenal and Spurs?

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Harry Kane celebrates after putting Tottenham Hotspur in front against Arsenal on December 2, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool22183150104057
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea22145340172347
5Arsenal22125546321441
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd22125544321241
7Watford229583232032
8Leicester CityLeicester229492625131
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham229493032-231
10Everton228683331230
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves228592328-529
12Bournemouth2283113142-1127
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2275102430-626
14Crystal Palace2264122028-822
15Burnley2263132343-2021
16Southampton2247112339-1619
17Cardiff CityCardiff2254131941-2219
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2246121631-1518
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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