The past seven days have changed the entire mood around in the two North London clubs. Tottenham were struggling in the league and were without a win in their opening four games. Of all a sudden, within past eight days, they’ve registered three consecutive victories, and are now one of the in-form teams in the league at the moment.
On the other hand, Arsenal are still recovering from their consecutive defeats – first against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, followed by 2-0 humiliation against London rivals Chelsea – two matches where they picked up three red cards.
Arsene Wenger views this competition as the perfect platform to groom raw young talents from the academy, but another defeat against bitter London rivals and subsequently early exit from the cup competition would be a fatal blow.
“It is not good enough for a club like Arsenal to lose two games in a row. Hopefully now we can put things right. It will be a feisty game with hopefully some goals in our favour,” said Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
Tottenham are heading into this match on the back of 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace last weekend. The much-improved defensive record is one of the key areas where Sours have shown great improvement. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have conceded just one goal in their last four outings, and boast the second best defensive record in the top flight after Manchester City.
New signing Son Heung-Min is winning the fans by scoring three times in his last two games. For now, the focus shifts back to the League Cup, a competition Spurs have always taken more seriously than their opponents on Wednesday.
“I heard about the north London derby when I was in the Bundesliga. I want to prepare well and do well on Wednesday,” said Son.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 20, 2015
League Cup was the last major silverware Spurs have won in 2008, and have been losing finalists on two occasions since then, losing to Manchester City in 2009 and then to Chelsea earlier this year.
Both sides will be looking win the competition, but Spurs will be more determined to get a victory at their home turf. Players like Harry Kane, who came through the youth academy and a local lad, understands the importance of this fixture and what it means to win in a cup game against their greatest enemy. Kane scored a brace in last season’s Premier League derby victory over Arsenal at White Hart Lane, which was also Spurs’ first win over their North London rivals in five meetings.
Match: Tottenham v Arsenal
Kick off Time: 19:45 BST
Date: Wednesday, 23rd September, 2015
Competition: League Cup
TV Info: Sky Sports 1
Tottenham Team News: Bentaleb out, Ryan Mason doubtful
Ryan Mason and Mousa Dembele are both doubts for this match, while Nabil Bentaleb remains sidelined for Spurs. In their absence, Dele Alli could retain the place alongside Eric Dier.
League Cup is a good tournament for squad rotation, therefore Pochettino may include the likes of Eriksen, Tom Carroll, and youngster Josh Onomah for this fixture.
Arsenal Team News: Mertesacker doubtful, Cazorla & Gabriel suspended
Paulista and Cazorla are both suspended after they picked up red cards against Chelsea at the Bridge in the last match.
Metesacker and Coquelin are both doubts for the match and the pair is likely to miss out. Mikel Arteta may be included alongside Ramsey. Wenger may opt for young players for this tie, Krystian Bielik could be given some time in the middle.
Possible Tottenham Starting XI:
Spurs usually play with a 4-2-3-1 formation, and knowing the importance of this fixture, can’t see Pochettino drifting away from that system.
Lloris, Rose, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Trippier, Dier, Alli, Son-Min, Eriksen, Lamela, Kane
Predicted Arsenal Starting Lineup:
Wenger will be missing several key players for this tie, but Arsenal has the squad depth to cope with it. Giroud may start as lone striker in place of Walcott.
Cech, Gibbs, Koscielny, Chambers, Debuchy, Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Chamberlain, Giroud / Walcott.
Key Stats: Tottenham vs Arsenal
1 – Tottenham have won just once against Arsenal in their last five matches.
3 – Spurs have won three of their last four North London derbies at White Hart Lane by a single goal margin.
12 – Out of 12 meetings between the two sides in the League Cup, Arsenal have won six, Spurs 3 & rest are draw.