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London – The shift in the balance of power in North London has been mooted for three or four years now. On Sunday it could finally happen.
Arsenal go into Sunday's derby four points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur. Defeat would leave them with a mountain to climb with 11 games of the season remaining.
Spurs have lost just once in the league since being beaten 5-2 at the Emirates in November and have, in Gareth Bale, the form player in the Premier League at the moment.
He scored twice in the 3-2 win over West Ham United on Monday, the second of them a brilliant last-minute winner.
“It's deflating isn't it? I've been in that position where you're watching the scores come up (on television) and it goes 'last minute goal at wherever' and you're praying it's the other team – and it isn't, it's the team that you don't want to score,” said Spurs midfielder Scott Parker.
“So it is deflating as a player on the opposite end, and I'm sure the Arsenal players are like that.
“I'm sure they'll be thinking they need to concentrate on themselves and try to win the game against us, and if they win the game against us it goes down to a point so it's going to be tight.”
Chelsea, who lie fourth in the table, between Spurs and Arsenal are at home to West Bromwich Albion, but the big question at Stamford Bridge is who the manager will be after Rafa Benitez's attack on fans and criticism of the board on Wednesday.
Leaders Manchester United could go 15 points clear of they beat Norwich City – with Manchester City not in action until Monday when they face struggling Aston Villa.
“It is very difficult to rotate the squad at the moment,” said United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as he prepares for the visit of Real Madrid in the Champions League next week.
“They all wanted to play against Real Madrid and there were a lot of disappointed players. But we had a chat. I said 'look, don't think for a minute losing a game for Manchester United is a trivial matter'. It is a serious matter.”
Southampton host Queens Park Rangers in a huge game at the bottom -defeat could leave QPR 10 points from safety, while fourth-bottom Wigan Athletic host Liverpool.
Second-bottom Reading, reeling from last week's home hammering by Wigan, go to Everton, and Sunderland look to halt their recent slide at home to Fulham.
Stoke City play West Ham United and Newcastle United go to Swansea City in the day's other two games. – Sapa-dpa