There will be no Tomas Rosicky on show tonight, but a large crowd is still expected at Underhill to see Arsenal Reserves take on their Tottenham counterparts in the North London derby tonight.
The visit of Spurs, along with that of Chelsea, is usually one of the most highly-attended second string fixtures each campaign and it seemed that tonight’s clash would have an extra edge to it given the possibility that Rosicky could finally make his comeback from injury.
However, that will have to wait for another day and the Gunners will be looking for a strong end to the season with just four games remaining. They play Spurs in the reverse fixture next week followed by a double-header with West Brom.
Neil Banfield makes just one outfield change from the side which drew 0-0 with Chelsea a fortnight ago, with Luke Ayling replacing Mikael Silvestre in defence. Jack Wilshere is still working his way back to full fitness after an ankle problem and Rhys Murphy (hamstring) is still out. Banfield has French duo Francis Coquelin and Gilles Sunu back at his disposal after international duty, but neither are deemed fit enough to make the starting line-up. James Shea replaces Wojciech Szczesny in goal. Fran Mérida and Amaury Bischoff, who both trained with the first team prior to the Villarreal game both start and the starting line-up includes eight players who played against Spurs in the sensational FA Youth Cup comeback last month.
subs: Sunu, Coquelin, Evina, Dunne.
Spurs include some notable names of their own, including left-back Alan Hutton, centre-backs Ricardo Rocha and Gilberto as well as ‘keeper Ben Alnwick. Dean Parrett, who skippered Spurs in that FA Youth Cup defeat, also starts.
First-team managers Harry Redknapp and Arsene Wenger are expected to be amongst the interested spectators this evening and, with a hint of revenge in the air, the young Gunners might not have it all their own way against their fierce rivals.