Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele's potential absence from the north London derby would be a major blow for Spurs. That is according to former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, who has backed the Gunners to win the game at the Emirates Stadium.

Dembele, 29, limped off during Tottenham's Champions League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen with an ankle problem. It remains unclear whether he will recover in time for the game against Arsenal - but Keown suggested his fitness could prove crucial to the outcome.

"Dele Alli is an outstanding footballer with a great career ahead of him. He is probably Tottenham's most dangerous player," the ex-Arsenal star explained to the Daily Mail.

"Arsenal must also be wary of the threat Kyle Walker possesses down the right. Mousa Dembele going off injured was a huge blow given his importance to the team, though. It looked like Victor Wanyama missed having the Belgian alongside him."

Despite predicting a win for Arsenal, Keown has been impressed by the marked improvement at Tottenham since Mauricio Pochettino became their manager in 2014. The Argentine is considered to be among the brightest young managers in the Premier League and led Tottenham to a top four finish last season.

"I've been very impressed with what Mauricio Pochettino has done at White Hart Lane," the Arsenal legend said. "After years of not really being able to compete with Arsenal in terms of Champions League qualification, he has taken them back into the big four. It seems like Pochettino is here to stay and he'll make sure this is always a tough fixture."

Mousa Dembele
Mousa Dembele (right) was injured during Spurs' 1-0 defeat at Wembley Getty Images

But Keown also observed that Arsenal come into the game on the back of much superior form, with Spurs having failed to win any of their last six games. "[Arsenal] are in such a strong position at the moment and I'd back them to win 2-0, with goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil," Keown said.

"Tottenham have scored just two goals in their last five games and are without a win in six in all competitions. It would be wrong of Arsenal to underestimate Tottenham, though, especially with the extra effort a derby can bring."