So. Arsenal go to Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow, and Kevin McCauley of SBNation's Spurs blog Cartilage Free Captain was good enough to answer a few questions about Arsenal's local rivals for us. Come below the jump for all the five questions action! Fizz! Pow!
1) Coming into the final stretch of the season, Spurs look to be in relatively good health. Ledley King, Steven Pienaar, Alan Hutton, and Jonathan Woodgate are all out. Wilson Palacios could return. Do you think he will, and what formation and lineup do you think Spurs will use?
KM: Right now, Palacios is definitely out, while Pienaar has returned to training. I'm not sure either's status is terribly relevant, since I don't believe either player would start the match even if they were fully fit. I expect a 4-4-1-1 formation with Peter Crouch up front, Rafael van der Vaart behind him, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale wide, and Luka Modric partnering Tom Huddlestone in the center.
2) Given Arsenal's recent trouble breaking down determined, tightly packed defenses, do you think Harry Redknapp will look to play defense first and break sharply on the counter, or will he play a more attacking, fluid style, especially as Spurs are at home? One can't imagine him playing for a draw.
KM: Harry certainly won't play for a draw, especially when Spurs need every point they can get. They're in a desperate race for fourth place, and as tough as a win over Arsenal might seem, that's exactly what Spurs need to go for. The question is not whether or not Spurs will attack, but how attacking they will be. For the answer to that question, watch Luka Modric. Watching how high he plays up the pitch and how much freedom he has will tell you exactly how aggressive Harry wants to be in this match.
3) Are there any matchups you're concerned about that Arsenal present at the moment? Gunners supporters may be slightly worried about Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on the wings, as our fullback play hasn't been exactly scintillating lately against quicker wide players.
KM: I think the key to this game for Spurs if they want to win is going to be exactly that, exploiting those fullbacks. Your central defenders are a bit better than advertised and might be able to deal with Crouch in the box, so the key will be for the wingers to put crosses into the box that forces your goalkeeper into tough decisions, and at the same time, getting Modric and Huddlestone forward so there's someone on the end of low crosses or cutbacks to the edge of the box.
4) Spurs are three points behind fourth-place Manchester City with a game in hand, but City are twelve goals up in goal difference, with six games left in the season. How do you feel right now about their chances of finishing in the top four again?
KM: I like our chances a lot, only because we still have to play Manchester City. Even if we're behind by four or five points going into that game, a win over City changes everything. They have the upper hand right now, but we're currently in control of our own destiny. Whenever your team is in control of their own destiny late in the season, you have to feel optimistic about that as a fan.
5) What areas of the squad do you anticipate Redknapp will look to shore up in the summer?
KM: Striker, striker, and striker. God, I swear half the comments at CFC involve Spurs needing a striker. "Harry better buy a striker," "We would have won if we had a decent center forward," "Maybe £35m for Andy Carroll
would have been a good idea," and so on. Some fullback help would be great too, as there is no cover for Assou-Ekotto at left back besides Bale, and all of our right backs have question marks.
KM: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal, Gunners are the better team and give it away late.