It's the derby! Grr! I hate Arsenal...or something. Stupid Gooners. Wenger is a pedophile. Blah blah blah.
Okay, so it's obvious I don't get into this whole hating our rivals thing. I wasn't born in London. I've actually never even been to London. Both of the Arsenal fans that I work with at SBNation, Ted Harwood and Ben Schneider, are actually great guys who are very objective about their teams. This one huge d-bag that I went to high school with was an Arsenal fan, but he's the only truly reprehensible Arsenal fan I've ever had prolonged interaction with. I know there are plenty more Arsenal fans who are generally repugnant people, but there are just as many Spurs fans who fit that description. The world, and especially the internet, is filled with complete morons. Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board aren't complete morons and I have no reason to hate them.
I don't think Arsenal sucks. I don't call them "the scum." I really like a lot of their players. I have a lot of respect for the way they run their club. Sure, I think it's funny when they lose to crappy teams, but not any more so than when Manchester United or Chelsea does the same thing. I'm sorry, I'm really bad at this whole hating your rivals thing. Am I a bad fan? Did I just lose all of my traffic? If you don't hate me now, you can keep reading. The rest of this preview is going to be about actual football.
Jermain Defoe is finally healthy, but it's unlikely that he's 90 minutes fit. Aaron Lennon is the same deal. I think that most Spurs fans would like to see both of these players on the pitch, but this seems pretty implausible. (I wrote that last sentence and this next one 20 minutes apart due to a Brett Favre rant over instant messenger. God I despise that prick.) I think that most of us want to throw Lennon into the lineup, though, just for an excuse to start not Jermaine Jenas.
Harry's old tried and true 4-4-2 worked against Blackburn last week, but don't be so sure that he'll go there again. It worked for two reasons. One, Pavlyuchenko actually ran. Two, Blackburn sucks and lets other teams control the midfield. A hard working Pavlyuchenko for two consecutive matches seems unlikely, and Arsenal are not Blackburn. They know how to pass and stuff.
Tom Huddlestone is out for this match, forcing Wilson Palacios into a key starting role. To be fair, he probably would have started this match anyway, but does he know that for sure? He can't, really, because I'm just assuming. He's going to be key, obviously, because Cesc Fabregas is kind of awesome. Wilson's drop in form has been a really big deal for Spurs and his play throughout last year was a big part of our success. He'll be needed to destroy stuff in midfield tomorrow, big time. I find it difficult to think up a scenario where Spurs get points without Palacios having a spectacular game.
So, let's cut to the chase. Are Arsenal better than us? Yes. Will they achieve a record of 4-3-3 or better if we play this match 10 times? Damn skippy. But to steal a line from Little Giants, if they beat us 99 times out of 100, we still beat them one time. Here's what needs to happen for us to win tomorrow.
Gareth Bale goes Welsh Jesus on everyone
Lukasz Fabianski goes all Flapianski
That's it. Simple as that. I'm thinking that at least one of those two things happens about three out of every ten times Arsenal and Spurs play with the two teams that will trot out there tomorrow. I'm not predicting a win for us because I think Arsenal win more often than not, but it's not implausible that we get it done. We're not super duper screwed or anything, they're just a little bit better. Let's hope they aren't tomorrow.
Projected Tottenham Hotspur lineup (4-4-1-1): Gomes / Assou-Ekotto, Gallas, Kaboul, Hutton / Bale, Modric, Palacios, Lennon / van der Vaart / Crouch
Projected Arsenal lineup (4-3-3): Fabianski / Clichy, Squillaci, Koscielny, Sagna / Song, Wilshere, Fabregas / Nasri, Arshavin, Chamakh
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur