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Apr 27, 2024 10:47 am

Arsenal keep guard up for clash vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Kai Havertz

Arsenal will put their league title challenge on the line Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur, whose fans would love nothing more than to disrupt the aspirations of their arch-rival.

Arsenal (24-5-5, 77 points) will make the short trip across North London after entering the weekend with a one-point lead atop the table over Manchester City, who have a match in hand. Liverpool notched a 2-2 draw with West Ham on Saturday to sit two points back of the Gunners.

Arsenal should have plenty of confidence after consecutive shutout victories at the Wolverhampton Wanderers and home to Chelsea.

Kai Havertz recorded a brace in the latter match, a 5-0 win over the Blues, to become the third Arsenal scorer to reach double digits with 11 league goals.

With a mostly healthy squad, a lack of distraction from European competition after a Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Bayern Munich, and the stakes clear, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wants to nullify the added intensity the North London Derby brings.

“We know about the rivalry but I think you have to put that aside, you have to live the game with the intensity and passion that it demands,” Arteta said. “On top of that, we know what we are playing for so I don’t think we need anything special because the game has got everything that you need as a player to go and enjoy it.”

Spurs (18-8-6, 60 points) have had nearly two full weeks to stew over one of their poorest performances of the season, a 4-0 loss at Newcastle United.

With two matches in hand and a six-point gap to make up, the fifth-place Spurs still have an outside chance to catch fourth-place Aston Villa for the final guaranteed Champions League spot in manager Ange Postecoglou’s first season.

They enter Sunday’s clash on a three-match home unbeaten run, and with hope that 10-goal scorer Richarlison — who hasn’t featured since April 2 due to an injury — can return from an injury.

Given those circumstances, Postecoglou also wants his side to try to manage the occasion’s natural intensity, rather than feed off it. He certainly understands why home supporters would be excited at the possibility of playing spoiler, however.

“I’m not going to dictate to fans what they feel and how they should feel,” Postecoglou said. “We understand the consequences of that but ultimately it’s still about us measuring ourselves against the teams we want to be challenging on a more consistent basis. And it’s a great opportunity to do that on Sunday.”

–Field Level Media

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