London, England – After a week off to accommodate a slate of FA Cup fixtures, the English Premier League returns to action with the latest installment of the highly entertaining North London derby.
Arsenal and Tottenham will meet at the Emirates on Sunday, and Spurs will be looking to replicate the result from the corresponding fixture last season, a match that saw them achieve a rare feat.
After surrendering two goals by halftime, Tottenham stormed back with second- half goals from Gareth Bale, Rafael Van der Vaart, and Younes Kaboul to claim a 3-2 win, its first at Arsenal in 17 years. The victory also snapped a 68- game winless run of away games against the "big four" clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United).
This season has seen the balance of power shift into a two-horse race between Manchester City and Manchester United for the Premiership title, but it has also seen Tottenham become the more successful North London club.
Spurs have outdone their fiercest rivals this term, faring 10 points better than the Gunners to sit third in the league with 53 points on the season.
Both teams have taken seven points from a possible nine in their last three Premier League contests, but they both suffered setbacks in the FA Cup last weekend - Arsenal fell to Sunderland in a 2-0 loss at the Stadium of Light while Tottenham was held to a scoreless draw at Stevenage.
Arsenal is in more of a rut given its 4-0 loss at AC Milan in Champions League play last week, but according to talisman Robin van Persie, Sunday's match against Tottenham is coming at the perfect time.
"What better way to set things straight again than to beat Spurs?" the captain told Arsenal's Official Matchday Programme. "I'd rather be playing them now than on any other day, and we know that a win is absolutely vital.
"They're above us for the first time in many years but it's in our hands to change the way things are going, win the game and start moving closer to them."
Tottenham has not finished above Arsenal in the Premier League since 1995, and three points on Sunday would be the first step for the Gunners in their attempt to preserve that streak.
"A draw will not be a good result for us [on Sunday], either in our bid to catch up with Spurs or in our efforts to fight off our other challengers for a Champions League place," said the Dutchman.
Manchester United will also be in action on Sunday. The Red Devils advanced, on aggregate, to the Round of 16 in the Europa League on Thursday despite losing to Ajax, 2-1, on the night. They will hope to bounce back in a potentially tricky fixture as they head to Carrow Road to face a Norwich City side that has won two straight matches in Premier League play.
Sunday's final fixture will see Stoke City welcome Swansea City to the Britannia. The two sides are level in the table on 30 points, but the Potters have not fared too well recently as they will be looking to snap a four-game losing skid.
Saturday could prove to be a pivotal day for a couple of EPL clubs.
Manchester City will host Blackburn at the Etihad as the Citizens look to pile the pressure on Manchester United. With a win, City can extend its lead atop the table to five points.
Andre Villas-Boas will be under the microscope from here on out after Chelsea faltered in the Champions League midweek. The Blues lost 3-1 at Napoli and will look to rebound against second-from-bottom Bolton at Stamford Bridge.
Newly appointed caretaker manager Terry Connor faces a tough task in his first match in charge of Wolverhampton as Wolves head to SportsDirect Arena to face sixth-place Newcastle United.
Elsewhere on Saturday, QPR hopes to climb further away from the relegation zone as it hosts Fulham at Loftus Road, West Bromwich goes for its second straight win when it welcomes Sunderland to the Hawthorns, and Wigan looks to emerge from the cellar with three points at the DW Stadium against Aston Villa.
Another classic derby was slated for Saturday as Liverpool was scheduled to host Everton at Anfield, but it has been postponed due to Liverpool's involvement in the League Cup Final.