By Simon Evans
LONDON (Reuters) – Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur can cement their status as the top dogs in the capital if they end an eight-year wait and defeat Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday.
Spurs produced an outstanding display to crush Chelsea 3-1 last week and a repeat performance at The Emirates on Sunday would make them the leading London challengers to Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League title race.
Tottenham have lost just once in the last eight league clashes with the Gunners but they have not won at Arsenal since a 3-2 victory in 2010.
Spurs are third in the table, three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, but Unai Emery’s side are unbeaten in their last 17 games in all competitions.
That run includes a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool, a performance which suggested they are making good progress under the Spaniard as they seek to return to the elite status they lost in the final spell of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
“Of course, when you want to win against Tottenham you know you have to play at your top level,” said Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi.
“We did that against Liverpool at home, so we know how to compete, we can compete with everyone and I think that we are looking forward to this game,” he said.
Tottenham beat Inter Milan 1-0 on Wednesday to keep alive their Champions League last-16 hopes, setting up what is almost certainly a must-win match in Barcelona next month.
The games are coming thick and fast for Pochettino’s side and no sooner were the points in the bag against Inter — courtesy of substitute Christian Eriksen’s late winner — than he was switching his thoughts to Arsenal.
“Now we have another tough game against Arsenal first, and we need to be ready again,” he said.
Sunday also features another local derby with Liverpool taking on Everton at Anfield.
Juergen Klopp’s side will start as favourites but Everton are coming along nicely under their Portuguese coach Marco Silva and have the advantage of no European midweek fixture.
But the Toffees have not won at Anfield since 1999 when Kevin Campbell scored the only goal in the game.
Chelsea come up against a familiar face as they look to bounce back from their loss to Spurs with former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri now in charge of opponents Fulham.
Ranieri, who famously lifted the Premier League title with outsiders Leicester City, won his first game since taking over at Craven Cottage with last week’s success against Southampton.
Leaders Manchester City, who have a two-point advantage over Liverpool, host Bournemouth at The Etihad on Saturday.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)