The Big Match

One side has more to lose

Tottenham's Harry Kane training ahead of last Wednesday's Champions League match with Bayer Leverkusen, which he failed to figure in. The striker has been out with an ankle injury since mid-September and is rated 50-50 to start today's north London d
Tottenham's Harry Kane training ahead of last Wednesday's Champions League match with Bayer Leverkusen, which he failed to figure in. The striker has been out with an ankle injury since mid-September and is rated 50-50 to start today's north London derby.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Wounded Spurs haunted by repeated failures to overhaul Arsenal and need quick pick-up

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino admitted he continues to be bothered by how Tottenham Hotspur contrived to finish below Arsenal last season, as he weighed up a couple of selection decisions for today's derby at the Emirates Stadium.

The Tottenham manager said Harry Kane, who has not played since the middle of September because of ankle ligament damage, will return to the squad and he gave the striker a 50-50 chance of making the starting line-up.

In midfield, Mousa Dembele is a doubt after twisting an ankle in the 1-0 Champions League home defeat by Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley on Wednesday. If he fails to prove his fitness, Pochettino will consider handing the 20-year-old Harry Winks a first start in the Premier League.

The Argentinian is not keen to make another mis-step. Needing a point on the final day of last season to secure a runners-up finish behind Leicester, they were thrashed 5-1 at relegated Newcastle.

Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-0 to leapfrog them and maintain Arsene Wenger's record of never finishing below Spurs.

"I still feel bad about last season," Pochettino said. "It was so easy to be above Arsenal in that moment.

NOT IN THE BEST SHAPE

We're not in a positive situation, we've struggled to win games after beating Manchester City. We need to work hard and try more than before because we're in a difficult moment.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, on their six-game winless run.

"It was difficult not to think about that situation. But we have another opportunity now and we will see what happens."

Pochettino also has the chance to become the first Spurs manager - permanent or interim - to boast a winning record over Wenger.

Since the Frenchman joined Arsenal two decades ago, he has got the better of 10 permanent Tottenham managers and four caretakers, reported the Daily Mail.

But Pochettino and Wenger are heading into their sixth meeting with matching records of a win, a loss and three draws, and a Spurs victory will give the Argentinian the edge.

Pochettino, however, is without a win in six games in all competitions.

"You never know if it's a good or bad time to play. I'll tell you after the game," he said.

"We're not in a positive situation, we've struggled to win games after beating Manchester City. We need to work hard and try more than before because we're in a difficult moment.

"You need to be ready to change the dynamic and we have a very good opportunity on Sunday."

With much at stake for both sides, Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has predicted a derby that will "have everything".

"It'll be a high-intensity match with plenty of hustle and bustle," the Chilean told Arsenal's official website.

"It's a game that they want to see us win at all costs.They're a massive rival. My team-mates and I will leave everything on the pitch."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 06, 2016, with the headline 'One side has more to lose'. Print Edition | Subscribe