Arsenal take on Tottenham on Sunday in a hotly-anticipated north London derby at the Emirates.
The Gunners have not lost a Premier League game (or a game in any competition for that matter) since their opening day defeat to Liverpool, while Mauricio Pochettino’s side are going through something of a serious wobble having gone without a win in their last six games in all competitions.
The last remaining unbeaten record in the Premier League is on the line on Sunday – should Tottenham lose to their fiercest rivals, they will lose vital ground on the top four.
Arsenal first, where the only guaranteed absentees are Lucas Pérez, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck. However, Arsene Wenger is faced with a number of injury doubts. Héctor Bellerín has declared himself fit to play but may not be risked, while Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal are all in the same boat having missed the midweek Champions League victory at Ludogorets through injury.
One or more of those named might play, but starting all four would be a risk.
For Tottenham, meanwhile, the big news is that Harry Kane is back in the squad after an absence of almost two months, and while Pochettino is wary of thrusting the England international back into the starting lineup, Kane will be raring to go after such a long time out.
Toby Alderweireld has not recovered in time, while it was confirmed on Saturday that Érik Lamela will miss out with a hip injury. Mousa Dembélé is an injury doubt while £30m signing Moussa Sissoko is serving the final game of his three-match ban.
The dearth of options in midfield could see a first Premier League start for one of Harry Winks, Tom Carroll or Josh Onomah.
The Likely Starting Lineups:
With so many players either out or doubts, choosing probable starting lineups is not an easy task. However, the two sides could possibly like out like this (assuming Wenger takes a few gambles):
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Walcott, Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dier, Rose, Wanyama, Winks, Son, Dele, Eriksen, Kane
The Head-To-Head Record:
The record between these two recently has tended to be rather even. Interestingly, Pochettino has never lost a north London derby in the league, drawing three and losing one, while Wenger has never gone five consecutive matches against Tottenham without a win.
The last two league matches between Arsenal and Spurs at the Emirates have both ended in a 1-1 draw, with the overall historical record between two at the Emirates/Hughbury reading:
Played: 83 Arsenal Wins: 42 Tottenham Wins: 19 Draws: 22
Form may go out the window in a derby setting, but it’s still hard to envisage a first Tottenham win at the Emirates since November 2010. Spurs’ recent results have been indifferent and they don’t seem particularly confident of late.
Arsenal, in contrast, seem positively buoyant lately and are genuinely enjoying themselves for the first time in a long time.
It’s hard to know how fit some of Arsenal’s starters will be, or indeed how much of an impact the returning Kane can make, but a home win is on the cards it both teams play to current form.