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MATCH PREVIEW

Is the pendulum swinging into Spurs’ favour?

Tottenham Hotspur make the short trip across North London for the final North London derby of the season against an out-of-form Arsenal side.

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Tottenham Hotspur make the short trip across North London for the final North London derby of the season against an out-of-form Arsenal side.

The Gunners have slipped 10 points behind their heated rivals in the race for a Champions League spot and after crashing to a 4-0 defeat to AC Milan last week, coupled with a 2-0 loss to Sunderland in the FA Cup, will be desperate to pick up all three points on Sunday.

However, they come against a Spurs side that have lost just four games all season and have tasted defeat just once in their last seven North London derbies, winning three.

And Harry Redknapp was able to deliver a positive pre-match report, with a number of first teamers all set to return from injury.

Luka Modric (illness), Emmanuel Adebayor (knee), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (groin) and Rafael Van der Vaart (calf) are all set to start that game at the Emirates after missing the 0-0 draw with Stevenage last weekend.

However, Sandro, William Gallas (both calf), Tom Huddlestone (ankle) and David Bentley (knee) are all sidelined and will miss the game, but other than that, Redknapp has a full-strength squad to choose from.

“Luka went down with the flu and Adebayor had a knee injury, hopefully they will be okay,” said Harry ahead of training on Friday morning.

“Benoit Assou-Ekotto had a little operation, but he’s trained this week and is fine.

“Rafa has trained this week so hopefully he’ll be fit as well. So we’ve not too many out. Tom’s had his operation and will be out for the rest of the season, unfortunately, but most of the players will be available.”

Possible starting XI

Friedel; Walker, King, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart, Adebayor

Key battles

Every player is likely to be on top of their game for both sides on Sunday, but the back-four will need to be wary of Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman has been in scintillating form for the Gunners this season, netting 22 goals in 25 league appearances. Ledley King and Younes Kaboul stifled him last time out in the 2-1 win at White Hart Lane and both will be required to put in match winning performances to keep him at bay.

Rafael Van der Vaart loves scoring against the Gunners, having netted four goals in three outings against Arsene Wenger’s side, and will be expected to turn in a similar performance on Sunday. However, Alex Song is expected to feature and will be working hard to keep his creative influence to a minimum. Elsewhere, Emmanuel Adebayor will receive a frosty reception at the Emirates in his first appearance against his old club at their ground since moving to Spurs. A riled performance from the Togolese front-man will be enough to stifle the critics, while a goal or two will be a nice birthday present for the striker, who turns 28 on Sunday.

Ben McAleer

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