Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal Preview: Alderweireld declares himself fit in big boost for hosts

Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal Preview: Alderweireld declares himself fit in big boost for hosts

The centre-back made his first start for over three months against Newport County and is in no mood to miss any more action, starting with this weekend.

Harry Wright

Toby Alderweireld has declared he is fit and ready to go for the North London Derby against Arsenal on Saturday after making his first appearance of 2018 earlier this week.

The Belgian centre-back has been stuck on the sidelines for over three months after pulling up in the Champions League clash with Real Madrid in November.

However, fresh from 90 minutes in the FA Cup win over Newport County in midweek, the 28-year-old claims he is fully recovered after the lengthy layoff.

“It was a difficult period for me but on the other hand it was three months," said Alderweireld. "In a football career that's not that long. I'm 28 and I'm happy that I never head a knee injury or something a lot worse.

“Of course three months is difficult but it could have been even longer. We worked hard to be very clever, doing the right things. We didn't start training too early.

“It was unfortunate because there was a pull in the tendon as well, it just took time. That was a goal in my head - to come back as quickly as possible and strong again. It was a difficult period mentally but if you have a goal in your head that's what you work for every day.”

The Belgian's first Premier League start of the calendar year could see him come up against Arsenal's new-look strike force of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The former scored three goals against Spurs over a two-legged Europa League tie back in 2015/16, but Alderweireld claims Spurs will have to be clever if they are to stop the £60-million man come Saturday.

“Everybody knows he is very quick and he is a good finisher, so you have to work your mind.

"You know one against one on the same line he will beat you so you have to be very clever, read the situation and then try to beat him with your head.

“He has it all and is in a good moment now as well so it is going to be very difficult to beat them but we will be ready for it.”


Gunners firing in recent North London derbies

The Gunners have had the better of the recent meetings between the two sides. Spurs have won just three of the last 14 North London derbies in a run stretching back to February 2012.

Nonetheless, Spurs come into the match with the better form. Mauricio Pochettino's men are unbeaten in 11 game since a 4-1 hammering by Manchester City in mid-December, whilst Arsenal secured just their second league win since the turn of the year with a 5-1 demolition of Everton last weekend. 

Team news

Lucas Moura could make his first Spurs start, whilst Arsenal are set to field a full-strength line-up including Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger claims Danny Welbeck may return from a hip injury at the weekend and Nacho Monreal is poised to be passed fit following being forced off with a knock against Everton.

Petr Cech will need a fitness test after not training all week, whilst Spurs have a clean bill of health.