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Aaron Lennon may hold key to the London derby

With the North London derby quickly approaching, Nick Harris looks at the one man who, should he return from injury, could make a big difference when the two sides meet on Saturday. 

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There is a fair amount of trepidation amongst Tottenham Hotspur fans about the weekend. With injuries and poor form dogging the team over the last few weeks, the worry is that a second loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in a row could be on the cards.

That said, I imagine Arsenal have similar worries of their own, with indifferent at their home recently, culminating in the 3-3 draw with Fulham at the weekend.

However the North London derby is a game apart, a match-up between two sides where form and league position can often become irrelevant once the whistle goes. It is a game that has also reliably produced fantastic entertainment over the past few seasons, with goals flying in and making the result almost impossible to predict.

Given the poor form of both teams, it might be just about the best fixture for each to have coming up, and for Spurs the key to coming out on top of an attacking affair may be Aaron Lennon.

Arsenal’s left flank has become an increasingly big problem for them recently; with the hapless Andre Santos made to look like a rookie at Old Trafford, and Thomas Vermaelen’s poor form from centre back being carried over to the flank.

However it is more likely Lukas Podolski that makes the left back position such a weakness for Arsenal, with the forward conscientiously objecting to tracking back as he argues his case for a move into the centre.

This is what Lennon must exploit on Saturday. The England winger has dipped in and out of form this season, but that will prove irrelevant if he finds himself continuously up against an isolated full back with plenty of space to run into.

Spurs have withdrawn Lennon from England duty this week, but he will hopefully be fit for Saturday’s derby, and if another injury worry, Kyle Walker, also makes it, then Spurs have a right flank capable of winning them the match. If both fail to recover, then Andre Villas-Boas’ side may not have the pace going forward to expose Arsenal’s problems at the back.

So the hope has to be these injuries are minor “international break” knocks that will be shaken off as soon as the prospect of a midweek trip to Sweden is avoided. Spurs desperately need their right flank to fire on Saturday, and if it does we could be in for another classic North London derby, however off-colour the two sides have looked in recent weeks.



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