Arsene Wenger is at least certain of one thing: he won’t be keeping an eye on events at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
“Certainly some members of my staff [might],” the Arsenal boss said on Friday morning. “I cannot control everybody but I will just focus on us winning the game.”
For Wenger’s part, it is the kind of day in which you dare not look away. With Arsenal in fourth and a point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, both sides know that they can only concentrate on claiming victory themselves. Even a momentary diversion of attention could lead to the kind of mishap that leads to dropped points.
Along those lines, it was perhaps no surprise that Tottenham actually moved their own pre-match press conference back to the same time as Wenger’s in order to prevent Andre Villas-Boas getting quizzed about any of the Arsenal manager’s comments.
Best to just concentrate on his own job. It’s that tense, that delicately poised.
That’s also reflected in the fixtures. With both sides facing opposition of similar quality and circumstances from either side of the Tyne-Wear divide, Arsenal’s extra point is somewhat offset by the fact they play away to Newcastle United, while Spurs host Sunderland.
The key question that could have been asked of either manager, then, is how well equipped they are for the victory they ultimately need - but not in the sense of mental or physical preparation; instead, what the season indicates these fixtures have in store?
Victory, it must be said, is a feeling Arsenal have enjoyed much more lately. In fact, if you only take games since the season’s traditional turning point of the 1 February, they are actually top of the Premier League with 32 points from 13 fixtures - even ahead of champions Manchester United.
It hasn’t quite been the typical story of Tottenham trailing away in the run-in, however. Although Arsenal have enjoyed a seven-point swing to go clear of their North London neighbours, Villas-Boas’s side are actually third in that recent table with 29 points.
As reflected by their comebacks against the likes of Manchester City and Stoke, Spurs have illustrated a resilience that hasn’t always been associated with them. A win on Sunday, in fact, would give them a total of 71 points: enough to secure a top-four spot in each of the last four seasons. It would be particularly cruel to miss out.
The other element of this weekend’s games going against Spurs, though, is that Arsenal have a better record in these kinds of fixtures.
At home against sides of Sunderland’s level - in other words, given how the north-east side have floated along with Newcastle, those in the current bottom half - Spurs have five wins, two draws and two defeats.
Away to the likes of Alan Pardew’s team, though, Arsenal actually enjoy a marginally superior record: five wins, three draws and one defeat.
Wenger’s side also possess better scoring and defensive performances in such games.
While Spurs have scored 11 and conceded six, Arsenal have hit 10 but only let in four.
Slightly skewing that this weekend, though, are the high-scoring games that Newcastle and Wenger’s team have produced in the past. It’s only two years since they played out a dramatic 4-4 at St James’ Park and just five months since we saw a 7-3 at the Emirates.
Finally, there are the fine details of how the teams pair up, and again, it’s difficult not to feel the weekend is just slightly tipped in Arsenal’s favour.
Even leaving aside Newcastle’s concession of 12 goals in their last six games in all competitions, Pardew’s side, according to WhoScored.com's team characteristics, are particularly susceptible to one of Arsenal’s main attacking strengths: through balls. Wenger’s team attempt far more than any other side in the Premier League, with an average of six a game.
Much of that, of course, goes through the elegant Santi Cazorla, who has played over 200 more passes in the final third this season (1019) than any other player in the five major European leagues. He’s also fresh off becoming only the second player in such competitions this season to provide four assists in a single game, after Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Wigan.
If still somewhat lacking a clear identity under new manager Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland have no obvious weaknesses that are as susceptible to Tottenham’s attacks.
Again, much of it may come down to the individual quality of Gareth Bale, who has hit four goals in his last six games.
Even if Wenger himself won’t look beyond his own team, most of the pre-match stats point to Arsenal still looking down on Spurs by Sunday evening.