Injury problems plague both Tottenham and Arsenal ahead of the lunchtime kick off at the Emirates this Saturday. Spurs have been without key players in the middle of the park for some weeks, but it is yet to see if winger Aaron Lennon's hamstring strain will keep him out of the match.
For Arsenal, Theo Walcott's improving displays for his side may be halted by a strained buttock muscle. Whilst Walcott hasn't been a guaranteed starter for Arsenal this season like Lennon has at Spurs, his attacking display against Fulham showed quality that would be missed, especially against a Spurs side Walcott ripped apart in the Emirates’ comeback last season.
With many expecting another attacking North London derby, the two wingers, who have been lining up as part of a front three for their clubs in recent matches, will be vital to their sides.
Lennon's form has been a tad mixed for Spurs this season, but with Arsenal's current problems at left back, he could be given plenty of space to operate in on Saturday. Thomas Vermaelen has replaced the shaky Andre Santos at left back in Keiran Gibbs' absence, but the Belgian has not looked assured in that position. With Podolski on the left flank of Arsenal's attack, the striker hasn’t always been keen to track back, leaving space that Lennon could thrive in.
Spurs have their own displaced Belgian centre back at left back too however, and Jan Vertonghen has looked a little jaded in that spot in recent games. At Manchester City, the addition of Maicon to the play meant he was often overloaded down his side, and Wenger will have noted that.
With Sagna backing up Walcott, you could see Arsenal profiting down the right flank, especially with Giroud finding his scoring touch on the end of Walcott's crosses.
Both wingers look like they could be at the heart of their sides attacking threat if they are fit on Saturday, so it would be a poor result for the match if one or both was side-lined by injury, or indeed was unable to perform at their best.
Arsenal have other players able to step into Walcott's shoes if he is unfit, and Spurs could turn to Iago Falque if without Lennon, but the game would undoubtedly be made richer by the England men's presence.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald