Tottenham, Arsenal meet in crucial North London derby

It's not often that Tottenham finds itself looking down at Arsenal in the table, but that has been the case for much of this season.

Spurs come into the weekend occupying third place in the Premier League with 51 points, four points better than the fifth-place Gunners. Arsenal will hope to cut that deficit down to one point when the two sides meet at White Hart Lane on Sunday for the latest edition of the always-entertaining North London derby.

Both teams have won three straight league matches, though recent storylines emerging from each camp would have you believe that the clubs are heading in opposite directions.

In addition to jumping ahead of Chelsea to move into third place, Tottenham also has advanced to the Round of 16 of the Europa League.

At the heart of Tottenham's good form has been Gareth Bale, who has scored eight goals in the club's last six matches across all competitions. The sublime form has seen supporters and pundits alike annoint the Welshman as the world's third-best player behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bale picked up the Barclays Player of the Month Award for February, but he remains insistent that the success of the team comes first.

"We're getting better and better with every game, we're jelling and as I've said before, we work together and whoever gets these awards, it's a team game and no-one can do it on their own," Gareth told Tottenham's official website. "I've been enjoying my football probably more than I ever have and when you are enjoying your football, you give your best performances."

On the flip side, Arsenal has been hit with speculation regarding manager Arsene Wenger's future with club. The Frenchman saw his side get thrashed by Bayern Munich in a 3-1 home loss in Champions League play last week, a disappointing result that followed a 1-0 home loss to Blackburn in FA Cup action.

Barring a sensational comeback against Bayern at the Allianz Arena, it appears as if silverware will be elusive for Wenger and Arsenal for yet another season.

Finishing in fourth place may be the only thing that saves Wenger his job, but Arsenal cannot afford any further slip-ups. Sunday's tussle at White Hart Lane has become a virtual must-win for the Gunners, adding a bit of extra bite to a match that is always very competitive.

Also vying for a Champions League qualification spot is Chelsea, which has lost two of its last three league contests. The Blues were only four points back of second place not long ago, but now the reigning European champions find themselves embroiled in a tough race for a top-four finish. They will look to turn their fortunes around when they welcome West Bromwich to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Premier League title race has proved to be somewhat anticlimactic to this point in the season. Manchester United is showing no signs of slowing down, entering the weekend with a 12-point lead over second-place Manchester City. The Red Devils will look to make it a 15-point gap with maximum points over Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday while the Citizens will try avoid slipping further behind when they head to Villa Park to face Aston Villa on Monday.

At the other end of the table, England's relegation battle is heating up. Only four points separate 16th and 19th.

Second-from-bottom Reading will have all to do on Saturday when it heads to Goodison Park to face Everton as both clubs will be hoping to avoid third successive league losses.

Wigan and Southampton enter the weekend in safe positions, but one wrong step could see them slip in the relegation zone. Both clubs are in action on Saturday as the Latics take on Liverpool at the DW Stadium while the Saints welcome lowly QPR to St. Mary's.

Also on Saturday, Stoke City hosts West Ham at the Britannia, Fulham heads to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland and Newcastle squares off against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.