North London Derby winners?

Saturday sees a showdown at Wembley Stadium. Who will win?

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Who will win the North London Derby?

By Joe Harker

The opening Premier League fixture of the weekend is the North London Derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

The Gunners won the reverse fixture earlier in the season and fans will be waiting to see whether they can go to Wembley and do the double over their rivals or be defeated. The previous derby was seen as a chance for Spurs to show the balance of power in London had changed, though their defeat opens the door for Arsenal to demonstrate they are still the better team despite all the progress of Spurs.

Since Mauricio Pochettino became Spurs manager they have made significant improvements and the head to head record against Arsenal is somewhat better. In the last eight meetings between the teams there have been two wins each and four draws and Spurs have managed to finish above their rivals in the Premier League. They seem to be on the rise while Arsenal appear to be regularly beset by crisis, though the two teams are part of the Premier League's top six and neither one has managed to establish clear supremacy above the other.

The match could be an important moment in both club's attempts to secure Champions League football next season. Each team is outside the top four but Spurs could climb up the table with a win. Arsenal are four points behind Spurs in the table, possibly making this a must win game if the Gunners do not want to finish sixth this season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said how important a win could be to their aspirations of Champions League football. He said: "This season, if you look at the table, is a very important game. For us, it is an opportunity to come back closer to the Champions League places, which is a priority."

With Spurs currently occupying Wembley the game will be played at the national team stadium. Wenger believes that could work to Arsenal's advantage as he would rather play Spurs at Wembley than White Hart Lane. Despite a few early problems settling in Spurs have only lost once at Wembley since August and are better at home against the top teams.

Spurs may also be encouraged by their superior defensive record this season. While Arsenal have made some new additions to their attacking lineup they have been criticised for neglecting to improve a shaky defence. Spurs have conceded fewer goals, faced fewer shots on target and made fewer errors leading to goals. They may have lost when they travelled to the Emirates earlier in the season but could feel quietly confident about their chances on Saturday.

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