Tottenham will not have to travel ahead of Arsenal clash as Spurs confirm Europa League fixture switch

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Tottenham have confirmed that the home and away legs of their Europa League round of 16 tie against Dinamo Zagreb have been switched and that they will host the Croatian champions in London for the first game between the two.

Both Tottenham and Arsenal had been drawn to play their first leg away from home with the Gunners flying to Greece on March 11 to face Olympiacos before hosting them seven days later. Between those fixtures sits the 202nd north London derby at the Emirates Stadium.

However local regulations mean that the two rivals cannot play home games on the same night. As FA Cup winners, Arsenal’s fixture took priority and therefore Spurs have been forced to switch ties.

That may be something of a positive for Jose Mourinho and Tottenham, who would not have relished a lengthy flight to Croatia before returning for a crucial match less than 72 hours later. Instead it will be Arsenal who have that trip to negotiate.

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It will at least be a familiar journey with Olympiacos’ Karaiskakis Stadium having played host to the second leg of their round of 32 tie, where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late header knocked out Benfica in Arsenal’s ‘home’ game. The away match in that fixture was played in Rome and on both occasions Mikel Arteta’s side have stayed in Europe on the Thursday night and undergone recovery sessions before travelling back to London. 

Tottenham’s passage to the last 16 was altogether more serene with Gareth Bale and Dele Alli among those finding form in an 8-1 victory over Austrian side Wolfsberger.

Come the north London derby, Arteta will be bidding to end his poor record against Spurs counterpart Jose Mourinho, whose teams have beaten him in both of their two meetings so far in the Arsenal boss’ fledgling managerial career.

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