Jonathan Woodgate has labelled a Tottenham player ‘absolutely outstanding’ and called fourth spot a ‘trophy’ for them and Arsenal.
Both north London sides won at the weekend to keep things pretty much as they were before. Tottenham beat Leicester 3-1 at home, with Harry Kane and Heung-min Son (2) both getting on the scoresheet.
The Foxes scored late through Kelechi Iheanacho but could not mount a comeback at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Arsenal, meanwhile, went to West Ham and picked up a 2-1 win. Gunners defenders Rob Holding and Gabriel found the net either side of Jarrod Bowen.
The results maintain Arsenal’s two-point lead on Tottenham with four matches of the Premier League season left.
Woodgate thinks the north London derby on Thursday May 12 could shape both clubs’ seasons.
“You just can’t ignore how much next week’s north London derby matters when you talk about the race for the top four,” he wrote in a column for BBC Sport.
“It’s absolutely huge, for all sorts of reasons. Like a lot of people, I think whoever wins that game will end up in the Champions League places – but good luck trying to predict who that will be.
Jonathan Woodgate predicts exciting derby
“I don’t think it matters who has their noses ahead in the table going into the derby, either. Because of what is at stake, both teams will throw everything they have got at each other.
“It will feel like a cup final, because fourth place is like a trophy now for Arsenal and Tottenham, with what being back in the Champions League next season would mean for both clubs.
“Whoever makes it will have had a successful campaign but it is what happens next that is really important. Quite simply, offering Champions League football makes the difference between being able to sign certain players, or not.”
Tottenham’s most recent victory was mostly down to the class of Kane and Son. While Woodgate admits they are important, he went on to praise another Spurs player.
“He [Son] and Kane showed again what we already knew – those two players can always dig them out of trouble, no matter what. They have done it all season, and the last few years too,” Woodgate added.
“It’s not just up front where Spurs impressed me, though. In defence, I thought Cristian Romero was absolutely outstanding again.
“I just love the way Romero plays. He is always on the front foot and aggressive, which made a difference today with the two important tackles he went into – and won.
“That showed me how much he wanted it, but he’s a clever player too. He gets himself in good positions and is always there if someone makes a mistake. They are going to need more of the same in the next few weeks.”
Prior to the derby, Tottenham travel to Liverpool while Arsenal host Leeds at the Emirates.