Buoyant Spurs aim to end Arsenal’s unbeaten run
Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks has warned Arsenal that his side are in the perfect form to end their bitter rivals’ 18-match unbeaten run on Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team head to the Emirates Stadium on a six-match winning streak which has carried them to third in the Premier League table.
Tottenham are also on a high after salvaging their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League last 16 with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan on Wednesday.
Revitalised by new boss Unai Emery, Arsenal’s own form has been just as impressive over the last three months and they sit only three points behind Tottenham.
But England international Winks says the north London derby has come at the right time for Tottenham as they chase a first win at their hated neighbours’ stadium since 2010.
“It is a game the fans want to win and one that we want to win. Three games in a week is going to be tough, but confidence is high,” Winks said.
“Of course they are beatable. The form we are in right now, it is probably the perfect time to go there. It is going to be a good game.”
The 196th clash between these feuding city-rivals promises to be a fascinating study of two teams who started the season with differing ambitions.
While Tottenham hope to mount a genuine title challenge, Arsenal would be happy with a top four finish after emerging from the dark final days of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 11 league games, but have yet to defeat one of their top four rivals this season after losing to Manchester City and Chelsea and drawing with Liverpool.
A victory would give Tottenham their highest points total after 14 games of a Premier League season, while a draw would mean they equal their best haul of 31 points in the 2011-12 campaign.
The Gunners have lost just one of their last 25 top-flight home matches against Tottenham, but they have won only one of the last eight league derbies.
Emery’s side endured a long trip to Kiev in midweek for their Europa League win against Vorskla, but the Gunners rested 10 players to keep them fresh for the derby.
Rob Holding was the only player to retain his place from the previous Premier League match at Bournemouth and the defender is hoping Emery gives him the chance to subdue Harry Kane on Sunday.
Tottenham striker Kane has scored seven times against Arsenal and is one shy of equalling Emmanuel Adebayor’s record for most Premier League goals in north London derbies.
“I’m looking forward to going up against Harry Kane. If he doesn’t score a goal, I’ll be happy,” Holding said.
It is the first time in 23 years that Tottenham will make the short trip down the Seven Sisters Road to face an Arsenal side not managed by Wenger.
Only two of the last nine Arsenal managers (including caretakers) have won their first league game against Tottenham — Don Howe in 1983 and Wenger in 1996.
Emery has impressed with his ability to reunite a squad fractured by the toxic atmosphere that marred Wenger’s last seasons and Holding admits the team and fans have bonded again.
“Yes, everyone is together. We knew with the new manager it was going to be a process. He’s come in and had a good first half of the season,” Holding said.
“With the fans behind us and the manager, the players are all buying into it. We’re in a positive momentum at the moment.”
Emery is a good friend of Pochettino and the Tottenham manager is looking forward to pitting his wits against the Spaniard.
“I have a very good relationship with Unai, he is a great manager, he’s doing a fantastic job there,” Pochettino said.
“It will be tough because they are doing a good job from the beginning of the season and signed very good players too.”
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