Arsenal out to maintain edge over Spurs

LONDON - Arsenal have the chance to re-establish their title credentials at the same time as asserting their superiority over neighbours Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arsenal have not lost to Spurs in the Premier League for 19 matches and almost exactly 10 years, but Spurs make the short trip along the Seven Sisters Road on something of a high after making their best start to a season for a long time.

Both teams are on 19 points with Arsenal third, one place ahead of Spurs on goal difference with a game in hand.

Both will also be desperate to improve on last weekend's results when they both surprisingly dropped points, Arsenal squandering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at West Ham United and Spurs losing 1-0 at home to Stoke City.

While Arsenal and Spurs contest a derby, champions Manchester United will aim to recover from Sunday's loss to Liverpool by beating Blackburn Rovers who make the short trip to Old Trafford after losing 5-0 at leaders Chelsea last week.

Chelsea, meanwhile, who are two points clear of United, travel to Bolton Wanderers, one of their favourite grounds, three days after Wednesday's League Cup clash between the clubs at Stamford Bridge which Chelsea won 4-0.


The corresponding Arsenal-Spurs fixture last season produced one of the outstanding games of the campaign when Spurs scored twice in the last two minutes to force a 4-4 draw.

Arsenal, wose young side beat Liverpool 2-1 in the League Cup on Wednesday, have shown the same failure to hold on to a lead recently.

Five days before dropping two points at Upton Park they allowed AZ Alkmaar to score a late equaliser and force a 1-1 draw in the Champions League -- leaving manager Arsene Wenger to rue their lack of concentration.

"The title race is tight and open," Wenger said after the match at West Ham. "We have a great chance this season but you cannot repeat the kind of performance we had today and not come out with three points."

Spurs skipper Robbie Keane believes Spurs are closing the gap on Arsenal after nearly two decades of being in their shadow.

"You look at the two squads and we are definitely on a par," said Keane after leading Spurs to a 2-0 League Cup win over Everton on Tuesday.

"In the last four or five years Arsenal have always managed to get ahead of us, but now it is even."

If Spurs do win at Arsenal for the first time since 1993, the title race really could be as wide open as Wenger believes.

Chelsea, though, will have other ideas about that as they seek to avoid a third successive away defeat in the league at the Reebok Stadium. Recent results there suggest Chelsea have little to worry about.

They have won their last six league games at Bolton, scoring 10 goals without the home side scoring any.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has England international Joe Cole back again after his long injury lay-off and after making his first start of the season against Blackburn and playing superbly Ancelotti described him as "a genius" last week.

Liverpool, who bounced back from four successive defeats to beat Manchester Unite