LONDON, November 19- Tottenham Hotspur will take on north London rivals Arsenal as Champions League equals for the first time at the Emirates Stadium this Saturday.
But Harry Redknapp’s side will also know it is a long time since they have won at the home of the Gunners, who can move to the top of the Premier League table by winning this early kick-off fixture.
Victory for Arsenal will take them a point clear of current leaders Chelsea, who are at Birmingham City later in the day, while Tottenham will kick-off in seventh place, level on points with Bolton and Sunderland but below them on goal difference.
The visiting supporters will be pinning their hopes of a first success at Arsenal in any competition since May 1993 on Gareth Bale, the Wales midfielder.
The 21-year-old has been inspirational on the left flank on many occasions this season, notably in Champions League action against holders Inter Milan.
And Bale, who has eight goals to his name so far, including a hat-trick in the San Siro, is keen to prevent Arsenal from spending even a few hours as Premier League leaders.
"We need to win every game we play at the moment," Bale said. "We’re good enough to beat anybody and we’ve shown that in the past. It will be a massive test obviously, away at the Emirates, but we’ll be ready for it."
Bale is likely to be up against his former Southampton team-mate Theo Walcott, who had a disappointing game for England on Wednesday when he was substituted at half-time during a 2-1 defeat by France at Wembley.
The pair are regarded as two of the finest athletes in the Premier League, with few defenders able to match Walcott as a sprinter and Bale setting new records for distance covered over 90 minutes.
Left-back Kieran Gibbs also started for England in midweek and was praised afterwards by France defender Bacary Sagna, his Arsenal team-mate, who believes he will be the long-term international successor to former Gunner Ashley Cole in that position.
"He was subbed because he will probably play at the weekend and I am quite proud to see him play," Sagna said. "I think he will be England’s next left-back."
Saturday’s derby also marks the return to the Emirates Stadium of another France defender, William Gallas. The centre-back left Arsenal in pre-season and joined Tottenham as a free agent.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger signed Sebastien Squillaci, another France international, to plug the gap and the 30-year-old has been a dependable performer so far, especially as Belgium’s Thomas Vermaelen has been sidelined through injury in recent weeks.
"I knew a lot of the players and there are a lot of Frenchmen here, which always makes it easier to adapt," Squillaci said. "There are players here who I have played with for France and also against in the French league and that makes coming here not so hard."