Sunday 14th March 2021; 4.30pm (Sky Sports)
A double-figure points tally away from the lucrative UEFA Champions League places, and seven points behind fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur, one could be forgiven for assuming an air of despondency is swirling around the Emirates Stadium ahead of the latest episode of the North London Derby.
However, buoyed by the enthusiasm of youth and hot on the heels of a superb away performance in Piraeus in midweek, the Gunners come into this fixture in far better spirits than for the reverse game back in December when in some quarters questions were being asked about the future of Mikel Arteta.
Somewhat ironically the visitors also arrive in good shape after a series of impressive results since their narrow defeat at West Ham late last month. From defensive dourness, Jose Mourinho has changed tact with five successive wins seeing a total of 15 goals recorded the latest of which means Spurs will almost certainly progress into the next round of the Europa League at the expense of Dinamo Zagreb. However, what is all the more remarkable after a plethora of negative headlines, both Dele Alli and Gareth Bale are fully back in the mind-set of the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’.
On the basis of current league positions, Spurs have the most to lose with a negative result, but we all know that neither side is likely to yield a yard in the battle for bragging rights, and this is reflected in the pre-game odds with bookmakers finding it almost impossible to split the two sides.