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North London bragging rights will be at stake on Sunday afternoon as Tottenham welcome neighbours Arsenal to White Hart Lane for what promises to be a pulsating encounter.

The two sides have played out some cracking games over the years and particularly in recent times, with April’s breathtaking 3-3 draw still fresh in the memory.

It was a difficult summer for both clubs as transfer speculation regarding key players dominated the headlines, and the uncertainty spread onto the pitch at the start of the 2011-12 campaign.

However, while Arsenal remain under severe pressure, there have been far more encouraging signs coming out of Spurs over the past few weeks and there is a growing feeling this could be the season they finally overhaul the Gunners.

Tottenham’s form began to turn around after the window slammed shut, with Luka Modric still at the club despite wanting to leave and Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker arriving to strengthen key areas in Harry Redknapp’s starting XI.

Having suffered heavy defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City in their opening two games, Spurs have bounced back with three wins in a row to stay in touch with the leading pack and raise hopes about a return to the top four.

They missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification last term and had to settle for a spot in the Europa League, when Redknapp has opted to make wholesale changes to his team and rest senior players.

He will therefore revert to his first-choice line-up for the visit of Arsenal after having to coming from behind to beat Shamrock Rovers on Thursday night, meaning Adebayor is in line to face his former club.

William Gallas will not have the chance to take on the Gunners after suffering a fresh calf injury this week, while Michael Dawson (Achilles) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are also out.

Steven Pienaar is available to play his first game of the season after overcoming a groin problem, while Aaron Lennon will require a fitness test after coming off against Shamrock with a stiff groin.

Arsenal are two points and seven places behind their capital rivals, having also played a game more, going into Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated fixture.

Arsene Wenger has had one of his less stressful weeks so far this season, though, having followed up a Premier League victory over Bolton with a win against Olympiakoas in the UEFA Champions League and received support from club owner Stan Kroenke.

His position could soon come under the microscope again if the Gunners lose to Tottenham, and with the derby in mind Wenger decided to rest several players himself for the midweek European fixture.

The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andre Santos pushed their claims for inclusion this weekend by scoring against the Greeks and performing well, but it is likely there will be wholesale changes.

Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey are among those set to earn recalls after starting on the bench in the Champions League, while Wenger will be hoping to welcome back a number of other influential players.

Theo Walcott, Laurent Koscielny and Gervinho were all ruled out of the 2-1 win over Olympiakos and will be assessed closer to kick-off.

Yossi Benayoun and Sebastien Squillaci are back in training but unlikely to be involved, while Johan Djourou, Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby remain sidelined.

Jack Wilshere is another long-term absentee after it emerged this week he may be out of action for up to five months following ankle surgery.

Possible starting XIs

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Van der Vaart, Modric, Parker, Bale, Adebayor, Defoe.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Arteta, Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.

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