Spurs vs Arsenal: A north London derby that really matters with Champions League at stake

What is even better than a normal north London derby? A north London derby that may decide if it's Arsenal or Tottenham returning to the Champions League.

Arsenal and Tottenham meet for a north London derby of genuine consequence on Thursday evening.

With three of the four Champions League spots in the Premier League all-but sewn up following Chelsea's win over Leeds on Wednesday, that has left the two bitter rivals to fight it out between them.

Arsenal have a four-point advantage going into the game. A win guarantees them a top-four spot, but Tottenham could really shake things up if they can come out on top.

When: Thursday, May 12, 19:45 GMT

Where: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Where to watch: Sky Sports

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Who is the ref for Arsenal vs Tottenham

Pep Guardiola Paul Tierney Nov17

Paul Tierney is the man with the unenviable task of trying to keep a lid on this one.

That is an appointment that probably won't make either club especially happy. It will be his third game in charge of Arsenal this season and the Gunners are yet to win under his watch. In fact, they are yet to score.

Tottenham have fared even worse, picking up just one point from their four games officiated by Tierney this season.

Incidentally, only Craig Pawson (107) has dished out more Premier League yellow cards than Tierney during the current campaign.

Season stats 2021/22: Premier League matches (95), yellows (17), reds (2), penalties (5)

Recent form

Gabriel of Arsenal celebrates his goal

Arsenal looked to be imploding just a few weeks ago, losing three matches on the spin to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton.

However, since then they have dismissed any accusations of 'same old soft Arsenal' by winning their last four matches against Chelsea, Manchester United, West Ham and Leeds.

Tottenham had a similar run to Arsenal's but they have been inconsistent.

A home defeat to Brighton was definitely damaging, and a goalless draw at Brentford did not restore any momentum. Since then they have had two good results - beating Leicester and drawing with Liverpool at Anfield.

Arsenal and Tottenham players in form

Tottenham Hotspur's Heung-min Son celebrates scoring

For Tottenham the impossibly consistent Heung-min Son just keeps impressing. He has scored three goals in his last two games, including one at Anfield.

Harry Kane is maybe not at his very best right now, although he seems to save that for Arsenal. That's something the Gunners will certainly be aware of.

Eddie Nketiah was Arsenal's hero against Leeds, scoring both in a 2-1 win. He has now scored four in his last four.

The unsung hero for Arsenal of late though has probably been Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian rarely catches the eye, but his quiet influence on Mikel Arteta's side in recent weeks is undeniable.

Last three matches

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham (September 26, 2021)

When these two sides met earlier in the season it was an odd one to judge. Spurs had started to flounder after a good start, while Arsenal were starting to pick up.

In truth, it is a game that Arsenal dominated from start to finish. Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka scored the goals, all inside the first 35 minutes.

By the time Heung-min Son scored late in the second half, it was only ever going to be a consolation.

Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham (March 14, 2021)

It was the Gunners who won this one as well, but it was the Tottenham goal that most people would remember.

Erik Lamela opened the sporing for Spurs with an outrageous Rabona finish before Martin Odegaard and Alexandre Lacazette turned it around for Arsenal.

Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal (December 6, 2020)

Tottenham's last win over Arsenal came under the watchful eye of Jose Mourinho, and they were very good value for it.

Son and Kane scored the goals, both of which came in the first half.

It was Tottenham's seventh game unbeaten against Arsenal at home - a stat that will worry Arteta ahead of this high-stakes encounter.

Last ten matches

Tottenham wins: 4

Draws: 2

Arsenal wins: 4

Tottenham goals: 14

Arsenal goals: 15

Managers' thoughts

Mikel Arteta, Leicester vs Arsenal

Antonio Conte has been critical of the decision to postpone this game from earlier in the season, but he has expressed plenty of respect for his opposite number.

"We have to try to get three points," Conte said. "We are talking about a good team, a really well organised team. Arteta is doing a really good job. He's had the possibility to work, improve his team."

Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, knows the game is essentially a cup final for Arsenal, with one win sealing them the spoils. That, he predicts, may make for a very entertaining contest.

"We always play to win and that's the way we will prepare this game," he said. "I'm sure [Spurs] will try to do the same. That's why hopefully it's a really spectacular game.

"It's the opportunity to achieve something we haven't achieved for many years. It's the game that will decide it. Normally you don't play games like that in the league unless you are competing for the trophy but we know that, at our level, what this game can deliver to us is really important."

Predicted Tottenham vs Arsenal teams

Possible Tottenham Hotspur starting line-up: Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Sessegnon; Kulusevski, Kane, Son

Possible Arsenal starting line-up: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Xhaka, Elneny; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah

Tottenham vs Arsenal prediction

Arsenal go into this game in a great position, although the Antonio Conte factor could ultimately decide this one. The Italian is as shrewd as they come and could throw a spanner into the works for Arsenal like he did to Liverpool at Anfield. Lets go with 3-1 Tottenham.

READ MORE: Antonio Conte ready to embrace "special" north London clash and talks up European hopes

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