Preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • The previous six games has seen a total of 31 goals
  • Spurs have won just once at Arsenal since the inaugural 1992-93 Premier League season
  • Arsenal haven’t loss their opening two home league game since1949-50

This game, this derby, this season… it has a whole lot of extra spice to it. In North London on Sunday everything will come to a standstill as Arsenal and Tottenham (11am ET, watch live on NBCSN and via NBC Sports Live Extra) face off at the Emirates Stadium.

With Gareth Bale’s transfer saga coming to a close, all the talk this week has been about Tottenham’s seven new arrivals as they’ve spent over $140 million on the likes of Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and Paulinho. While Arsenal fans can only dream about such reinforcements as Arsene Wenger’s squad looks incredibly thin.

The one respite over recent weeks, despite all the missed opportunities in the transfer market, has been Arsenal’s qualification for the Champions League group stage for the 16th straight season.

The North London derby is an incredibly passionate event where both sets of supporters come together to create a crescendo of noise. These two teams are closer now than they’ve ever been this season, so expect the volume to be cranked up even higher.

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Can Spurs’ new signings make Bale a distant memory?

With the Gunners promising to spend big in the final days of the transfer window, a defeat to their bitter rivals may force the directors hands to dig even deeper into their pockets. Arsenal’s diehard fans want some more attacking talent to arrive and top of that list is Real Madrid trio Angel Di Maria, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil. But after Arsenal’s 3-1 win away at Fulham, the signs are that players such as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud will come good this season.

Yet for Tottenham their star player Bale is set to seal his switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid before the deadline on Monday. But it’s said that Spurs are dragging their heels in order to not let Arsenal buy one, or all three, of Madrid’s attackers who will be put out of the lineup as the Welshman arrives. Another extra storyline adding to the rigmarole of this tense clash.

This season so far has seen Spurs start off with two 1-0 wins against Crystal Palace and Swansea. Arsenal lost to Aston Villa 3-1 in a shock opening day defeat but bounced back against Fulham. Injury wise, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta are sidelined for Arsenal. For Tottenham Aaron Lennon is doubtful, while Emmanuel Adebayor and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are also missing.

You don’t want to miss this one, as North London’s finest collide in a pivotal early season battle.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger on Tottenham losing Bale and Spurs’ rebuild: “It has a negative impact when you lose your best players, always. Because you are perceived by your fans as having a lack of ambition. The rest of the squad loses strength in their team. We have gone through that process consistently and it always demands a mental adjustment to keep your ambition alive. It’s very difficult. There is a technical risk when you buy more than three players. Because you unbalance the stability of your squad a little bit. “It’s always difficult when you bring so many players in to predict how well they will do. You have to integrate more, your squad is always a balance, and there’s a bit more risk. It can work as well. It can click fantastically well. But there is a little risk in the stability of the squad and the technical consistency.”

Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna on rivalry: “As I have said before, we can beat anyone. We have very talented players who are young and motivated. This game is one of the highlights of the season because it is a derby – we know how important it is for the fans, the club and the players to win it. The atmosphere is just magic and it will be even more magic if we win on Sunday.”

Andre Villas-Boas on Tottenham’s : “We have the quality to go there and win. I think we will set up to try to win the game and hopefully achieve the result we want. Yes. It is a different type of proposition on Sunday but it has special ingredients of a game that is unique in English football and full of emotion.Hopefully, if we set up properly, the match for sure will be a great game, because both teams want to play, want to win, want to attack, and hopefully it can be a present for the fans.”

Prediction

This is an incredibly tough game to call, I mean both teams are so desperate to not lose that it could be a stalemate. Then again Arsenal have won the last two meetings 5-2 at the Emirates and it should be a cracking atmosphere at the Emirates. Tottenham’s new-look team have been solid yet unspectacular, while the Gunners have been written off again this season. I expect an Arsenal backlash and a crucial home win to get Arsenal one step ahead of their rivals.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga