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|Match Result and Both Teams to Score
Antonio Conte’s side needs to emerge victorious to remain in the race for the top four, and playing at home could give them the edge.
Back Tottenham Hotspur to win (+123)
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The Premier League title race has swung sharply in Manchester City’s direction. A 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United on Sunday moved the champions three points clear at the summit of the standings and left them with a superior goal difference to Liverpool. The previous day, Jurgen Klopp’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham Hotspur, who became the first English team to avoid defeat at Anfield since Brighton & Hove Albion in October.
It was a good result for Spurs. They took the lead through Son Heung-min, who rounded off a fine counter-attacking move that also involved Harry Kane and Ryan Sessegnon. Antonio Conte’s men defended stoutly, with Cristian Romero, Eric Dier and Ben Davies all excellent at the heart of the backline. Luis Diaz’s deflected strike restored parity in the 74th minute, but Tottenham were good value for the point.
Yet although a draw at Anfield is undeniably a positive result, Spurs actually lost ground in the race for the top four at the weekend. Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Leeds United was nervier than it should have been, particularly as the visitors to the Emirates Stadium had one fewer player for the majority of the match following Luke Ayling’s red card in the first half.
Arsenal were comfortably the better team on Sunday, though, and they now have a four-point lead in the battle for the final Champions League qualification spot (despite their faltering form, third-placed Chelsea should get over the line). Anything other than a win for Tottenham on Thursday would put Arsenal within touching distance of fourth place; indeed, an away victory would see Mikel Arteta’s side qualify for European soccer’s premier club competition with two games to spare. Put simply, Spurs must triumph on Thursday.
Arsenal had a wobble a few weeks back which threatened to derail their top-four bid. The downturn began with a crushing 3-0 defeat by Crystal Palace which no one saw coming. Arsenal then lost their next two matches, going down 2-1 to Brighton and 1-0 to Southampton, leaving their supporters fearing the worst. A young side looked to have run out of steam just as the finish line was coming into view.
Yet Arsenal deserve great credit for the way they have bounced back from that disappointing spell. Since that loss to Southampton, they have taken 12 points from a possible 12. The fixture list has not exactly been easy in that time either: the Gunners have beaten three of the top seven in Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham United.
There is still work to do, of course, but two wins from their final three matches would get Arsenal over the line. That means they do not necessarily have to get anything from Thursday’s contest in order to qualify for the Champions League, although avoiding defeat by their north London neighbors would leave them in a commanding position.
This game will be a test of Arsenal’s mentality and character. Theirs is a young side and while they have handled the pressure well for the most part, Arteta’s players will be confronted by a cauldron of noise at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They must try and play their normal game, but that will not be straightforward in such an atmosphere.
The north London derby is one of the most entertaining fixtures in the Premier League. Meetings between these two teams tend to deliver the goods in terms of excitement and drama, and there is hope among neutrals that Thursday’s clash could be a classic of the genre – particularly as there is much more than local bragging rights up for grabs.
Tottenham have a pretty good record against their arch-rivals when playing at home. Their last top-flight loss to Arsenal in front of their own fans was back in March 2014, when Tim Sherwood and Arsene Wenger were in the respective dugouts. The one before that was in September 2007, when Harry Kane was 14. Tottenham tend to get the job done against Arsenal on home turf.
They should do so again on Thursday. Conte’s side will play with energy and intensity from the first whistle, and Arsenal could get overrun – particularly down the flanks. The table dictates that Tottenham must win, which should work in their favor with Arsenal liable to be caught between two stools. Back Spurs in this one.
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|Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal Information
|Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
|Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
|Thursday, 12 May 2022, 2.45 PM EDT
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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