On the face of it Arsenal have to be clear favourites to win the game as they're top of the league and are unbeaten at home since the opening day of the season. They have won seven and drawn two of their home league games since then and Spurs are among the teams they have beaten with a 1-0 win back in August. Arsenal also have a very good defensive record at home and no other team has conceded less home goals in the league this season. Three of the six goals they have conceded at home were in that opening day defeat to Villa and they have only conceded three goals in the nine games since then.
Spurs are no pushover though and have a very good record away from home in particular in the league. They have won seven of their 10 away games and lost only two and that's far better than their record at home. Their most recent victory was away to Premier League champions Manchester United on New Years Day and they cannot be taken lightly.
Arsenal have deployed Olivier Giroud as their sole striker in almost every game they have played this season, but he picked up an injury away to Newcastle last weekend. Luckily enough Lukas Podolski had just returned from injury and led the line against Cardiff, but he's not the same type of player as Giroud. Giroud's ability to hold the ball up and lay it off in tight situations has been very important to the way Arsenal play and his aerial prowess at set defensive set pieces has been invaluable.
Podolski is not the same type of player and the team struggled at times against Cardiff with him as the central striker. He came short and joined in the play quite often but when he did so it meant Arsenal had no real presence in the box as he seldom managed to make his way in when his part in the build up play had finished. Podolski is a very good player but I don't think he's particularly suited to the central strikers role in the current Arsenal team.
When Nicklas Bendtner replaced Podolski against Cardiff the team looked a lot more balanced, cohesive and a far greater attacking threat. Of course this could have been because Cardiff tired as the game progressed and Arsenal eventually made their breakthrough with only two minutes left with Bendtner getting the goal. With Giroud injured it looked like Bendtner might just have won himself a starting role in the team, but he picked up an injury in scoring the goal and he could be out for a while too.
The only other option for the central striking role is Theo Walcott, but he's another player who I think isn't suited to the role in the current Arsenal system. Like Podolski he can't really do the work which Giroud and Bendtner can as neither of them have the strength or stature required. Walcott has scored five goals in five games since returning from injury and is Arsenal's best option on the right hand side of their attacking trio.
Yaya Sanogo was signed in the summer as a back up to Arsenal's striking options and it was a risk signing him because of his long list of injuries despite his tender years. Unfortunately he has lived up to his reputation and been injured almost permanently since he signed. It looks like the gamble to sign him may not have paid off.
The problem for Arsenal against Spurs will be who to play in the central striking role if both Giroud and Bendtner are ruled out. As I've said already it's a role neither Podolski or Walcott are really suited to and they're better in the wider roles. If either of them are to play there the team would surely have to vary the way they are playing and I'm not sure that's going to happen. Ideally Giroud will be able to play and there's a one week gap before their next game in which Bendtner can hopefully recover.
The transfer window has opened and Arsenal have the money to spend if they can find the right player, but it's not easy to find a top class striker available to purchase half way through the season. I wouldn't be surprised if Arsenal didn't sign the striker us fans are crying out for and the rehabilitation of Bendtner could be the reason for it. He carries an awful lot of baggage with him but it has to be remembered that he's a good player and knows how to score goals. He's ideally suited to the way Arsenal are playing at the moment and he needs to make an impression if he wants to find a new club at the end of the season.
If Giroud doesn't recover in time for the Spurs game I think Podolski will play up from again and hopefully he can adapt to the role a little better. He's a player who knows where the goal is and how to score goals but it has to be remembered he's only just back from a four month injury lay off. It won't be an easy task for him but he's good enough to live up to it.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.