Arsenal make the very short journey to play local rivals Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow afternoon in the Premier League. It's a fixture Arsenal had the better of for 11 years until 2010 when the worm eventually turned. Since then Spurs have won two of the last three league games, but Arsenal did thump them 4-1 on their own ground in the Carling Cup.
In the corresponding fixture last season Arsenal desperately needed a win, but they drew 3-3 after leading 3-1. If anything their defensive woes have increased since that game with 12 goals conceded in their last two away games in the Premier League. The new signings have brought some hope, but the current glut of defensive injuries are a real burden.
Those injury problems will probably mean that Alex Song has to play in the centre of defence alongside Per Mertesacker again. The only other fit central defender Arsenal have is Sebastien Squillaci, but he hasn't played enough games in recent weeks to be match fit. Both of Arsenal's centre backs will have their hands full with ex-Arsenal player Emmanuel Adebayor now leading the line for Spurs.
Only one player has ever scored for both Arsenal and Spurs in north London derbies, but Adebayor has the chance to become the second player to do so. He was absolutely great at first in his Arsenal career, but as greed took him over his performances grew gradually worse. Arsenl eventually sold him to Manchester City, but he was soon loaned out to Real Madrid.
He's now on loan at Spurs and he probably won't get too many more chances to show what he can do on the football field. He has started very well for Spurs, and I'm sure he will hoping to do his very best against his former club. He has recently said he regrets the goal celebration in front of the Arsenal fans a few seasons ago, but I'm sure the Arsenal fans won't have forgiven or forgotten it.
Besides Song and Mertesacker, Arsenal should have Wojciech Szczesny in goal, and Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs should take the full-back roles. Sagna will have to be at his best to keep Gareth Bale at bay, but he is a top class defender in my opinion. I'm a little worried about Gibbs' defensive abilities, and they will probably be tested to the full.
With Song playing in defence Emmanuel Frimpong should make another appearance as the holding midfielder. Hopefully he can stick to his role and defend in front of the back four like he did in the second half against Olympiacos on Wednesday night in the Champions League. Arsene Wenger does have the option of playing Francis Coquelin with or instead of Frimpong, but I think he will be on the bench.
The other two midfielders are almost certain to be Mikael Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, but Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun will be available to come on if needed. The midfield could be very congested if Spurs play only one striker, and the three Arsenal players in there will have to work very hard. Spurs did very well to hang on to Luka Modric in the summer, and he is forming a good partnership with new arrival Scott Parker.
Arsenal will have Robin Van Persie as their central striker, and he is slowly returning to the form he showed in the second half of last season. He has now scored 21 goals in his last 25 Premier League starts, and if Arsenal are to stand a chance they will need him to add to that tally.
If Theo Walcott is fit to start I think he will play on the right with Andrey Arshavin playing on the other side. I would like to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned loose on Spurs, but I think he will be on the bench to start with.
It's not Arsenal's strongest line-up, but it's good enough to go to Spurs ground and get a result. Spurs have some very dangerous players in Adebayor, Bale, Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart, but I don't think their defence is poarticulatly strong. I know Arsenal have had severe problems in defence, but Spurs have had their troubles too.
Spurs always look better with Ledley King in their team, but he is so injury prone he could be an Arsenal player. He missed their first two games this season when they conceded eight goals, but in the three games he has played they have only conceded one. For Arsenal to be successful on the day they will need to get the better of King.
The game is bound to be a tense affair with both sets of fans giving their full support to their idols. The traveling Arsenal fans are always a credit to the club, and I expect to hear them singing loud and proud on Sunday. Hopefully they can find the strength to keep singing, even if the team suffer a setback during the game.
Arsenal's ability to come back from setbacks hasn't been good since the Carling Cup final defeat in February, and their mental strength has been questioned at times. They have to rebuild that mental strength slowly but surely, and their current run of three victories in a row is their best run since last February. Another win tomorrow could be the catalyst Arsenal need to get their season fully back on track.
There are players with strength and character in the Arsenal team, and they need to stand up and be counted when the need requires it. If they can show that strength to their teammates and the opposition too they can help to carry the players who struggle in those situations. This is a game the fans passionately want to win, and the players need to feel that passion too.
I'm predicting a 3-2 win for Arsenal because I always predict an Arsenal and I can't understand Arsenal fans who think they will lose a game before they play it. No matter who the opposition are, Arsenal will always be the favourites to win in my biased eyes.
I think Chamberlain might come on at some stage and cause Spurs enough problems to change things around for Arsenal if they need to do so. I have a feeling he might get his first Premier League goal to follow his debut goals in the Carling Cup and Champions League for Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger celebrated 15 years as Arsenal manager yesterday, and he says he's up to it for another 15 years if the club will have him. It's hard to imagine Arsenal without Wenger in charge, but the last few months have been his toughest time since he took over. I hope he does stay for another 15 years, as it would obviously mean he manages to rediscover the winning formula he had for so many years.
That's it for today.
Here's the highlights of Arsenal's 5-4 win at Spurs a few years ago.
See You Tomorrow.