Can Spurs hero Harry Kane sink Arsenal on derby weekend?

Premier League preview: local rivalries take centre stage as the battle for Europe hots up

Harry Kane of Spurs
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty )

It promises to be a weekend of drama and emotion in the Premier League with two local derbies and the spectre of two tragedies that have helped shape modern football hanging over the weekend's action.

The derby that will have the biggest impact at the top of the table takes place at White Hart Lane as Arsenal and Spurs fight over vital European points as well as the all-important north London bragging rights. The other local showdown is at Goodison Park where Everton will unveil a memorial in honour of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster, almost 26 yers ago.

Manchester United will also be remembering the 57th anniversary of the Munich air disaster ahead of their game against West Ham on Sunday, with a memorial service at Old Trafford on Friday.

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The other Manchester team, City, who are second in the table, will be hoping to close the gap on Chelsea. The champions are at home against Hull, while the current table toppers travel to Aston Villa.

Here's the best of the weekend action:

Spurs v Arsenal

The weekend kicks off with what could be a classic derby at White Hart Lane between two teams in fine form. Both have lost only once in their last eight Premier League games and both have taken 19 points from the last 24 available to them. They are almost neck and neck for the season and lie fifth and sixth in the table, with Arsenal two points ahead of their hosts.

Neither side can afford to lose this one as they push for a place in the top four, but with the competition for Europe so fierce this year neither can they settle for a draw, and that could make for a pulsating match.

Spurs' new hero is local boy Harry Kane who will be getting his first taste of the north London derby and a goal or two would elevate him to god-like status among Lilywhites fans. He, along with Christian Eriksen, will present the sometimes jittery Gunners defence with some real problems.

With Hugo Lloris in fine form between the sticks even the presence of Federico Fazio in the back four will not hand the Gunners a huge advantage.

Arsenal look likely to be without their talisman, Alexis Sanchez, who has fallen victim to the Arsenal injury curse. He has a problem with his hamstring, and given the Gunners track record with that sort of injury could be out for a while. However, the Gunners need not be too downhearted, for in his stead they have diminutive Spaniard Santi Cazorla who has hit a rich vein of form.

Francis Coquelin impressed in Arsenal's last away game and could reprise his role as midfield enforcer. While Gabriel Paulista could make his debut from the bench.

It's hard to know what will happen in the febrile atmosphere of a north London derby, but an eagle-eyed punter may take note of the fact that Arsenal have fared badly in lunchtime kick-offs against big teams recently, and that could give Spurs the slight advantage.

Everton v Liverpool

The stakes are high for both Merseyside teams in their 224th meeting on Sunday evening, but for different reasons. Liverpool, like Arsenal and Spurs, have lost only one of their last eight league matches and are clawing their way up the table after an indifferent start to the campaign. They will not want to lose ground or momentum in the battle for a top four place.

Everton on the other hand are enduring a miserable season, but recorded a precious win last week - only their sixth of the entire season - and will be desperate to secure back-to-back league wins for only the second time this season and lift them away from the danger zone.

The last time these two met at Goodison it ended 3-3 but despite the claims of Toffees' boss Roberto Martinez that there will be "plenty of goals", this is likely to be a tighter affair on account of the two clubs' relative positions in the table.

On the other hand both sides have added attacking talent at their disposal this week. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge marked his return to fitness after five months out by scoring a goal last week while Everton can unleash on-loan Spurs winger Aaron Lennon.

Again, it's hard to call, but looking at the way the season has gone so far, Liverpool look slight favourites.

Aston Villa v Chelsea

Aston Villa have not scored a Premier League goal since before Christmas so, depending on your point of view, they have no chance of finding the net against Chelsea, or are so long overdue that they surely will.

Charles Gil and Scott Sinclair played together for 25 minutes against Arsenal and Villa fans will hope that they can find a way to get Christian Benteke scoring again. Whether that will happen against Chelsea is a different question.

Having safely negotiated the visit of Man City last week, Jose Mourinho will want to follow that up by winning and avoiding the prospect of conceding ground to their rivals after holding them to a draw. Winger Juan Cuadrado could make his debut for the Blues and if he doesn't end up on the winning side it will be a major surprise.

Manchester City v Hull

With Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations final, City are still without Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony, but that should not stop them overpowering Hull at the Etihad. Sergio Aguero, who often takes some time to rediscover his form after injury, has been back for three games and should be ready to fire, while David Silva is already in fine fettle.

Hull on the other hand are in freefall with two points from their last eight games. It could be unpleasant viewing for Tigers fans who make the trip to Manchester.

West Ham v Man United

Sunday's big match sees Man United visit West Ham. Few people would have expected the gap between these two teams to be just seven points by mid February, but the fact that it is, is more down to West Ham's impressive season than Man United's up and down form this term.

The Hammers will fancy their chances in this one. They might not be in great form at the moment but they have won seven of their 12 home games this season, while Man United have registered just three wins on the road. Andy Carroll has been a handful since he returned to action in November, although he is nursing a knee injury.

United have plenty of talent at their disposal, but Louis van Gaal has yet to figure out how to deploy it effectively away from home. That said, if United play to their potential they will take the points.

The weekend's other fixtures:


Leicester v Crystal Palace

QPR v Southampton

Swansea v Sunderland


Burnley v West Brom

Newcastle v Stoke

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