4 Key Battles Which Could Decide Sunday’s North London Derby Between Arsenal and Tottenham

The first north London derby of the season is upon us this weekend, and it comes at a tantalising time for neutrals and fans. Arsenal are unbeaten in 18 games going into this one but the Gunners have struggled to take all three points in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Tottenham are still looking to hit top form despite enjoying their best start to a Premier League campaign. They’ve played out impressive victories against Manchester United and Chelsea already this season but have struggled for consistency in between. 

Spurs will be hoping to put an end to their bitter rivals unbeaten run, with the majority of the pressure being on the home side. 

4. Rob Holding vs Harry Kane

Harry Kane is undoubtably the the danger man for Tottenham and will be their main avenue of attack once again. He’ll likely have to deal with the attentions of World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi, who’s enjoying a much better run of form under Unai Emery after a so-so first couple of years at the Emirates. 

Kane’s game is as much about finding intelligent attacking positions as it is about finishing though, and Spurs formation offers him a lot of freedom in that lone striker role. As such he’ll probably look to target the less experienced Rob Holding to profit in the box. 

Holding has been Emery’s other first choice centre-half in this purple patch and has stood up well against the likes of Liverpool. This will be a very different kind of test for him against Kane though, and one he’ll have to be up for if his team are to win. 

3. Lucas Torreira vs Dele Alli

Arsenal have been searching for a commanding midfield enforcer for years and it seems they may have found one in Lucas Torreira. The Uruguayan has been key to Arsenal’s success this season, bossing the centre of field and making it very difficult for the opposition. 

Torreira will have his work cut out for him tracking Dele Alli, who can’t be underestimated in Tottenham’s attack. It was Alli who opened the scoring against Chelsea in their last league game, and he’s usually the one in closest support of Kane. 

Spurs have plenty of other attacking options like Hueng-min Son and Christian Eriksen, but isolating Alli from Kane will be a huge step towards nullifying the Tottenham attack for the Gunners.

2. Mesut Ozil vs Eric Dier

Likewise, Tottenham enforcer Eric Dier will likely have a very busy 90 minutes on the other side of the pitch. Mesut Ozil doesn’t always get the credit he deserves at Arsenal, and can cut a lethargic figure in midfield at times. 

But there aren’t many players who’ve been as important to the Gunners attack since the German arrived in north London. With 30 goals and 51 assists from just 152 league appearances, Ozil has has been directly involved in a goal every other game on average for Arsenal. 

The German remains the lynchpin in the Gunners’ attack and, like Tottenham, Arsenal have a plethora of attacking talent in support. Ozil will be a key supply line for that attack and Dier has to break it early on to make it difficult for Arsenal to build.     

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs Serge Aurier

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has been one of the best signings by any club in recent windows, and he’s gone from strength to strength this season – scoring eight goals already to reach 18 goals in just 26 Premier League appearances.

He is quickly becoming as important to Arsenal as Kane is Tottenham, and he’ll be wanting to make his mark on this significant fixture too. Emery has deployed the Gabon international in a wide position more often than not this season, with Alexandre Lacazette playing as a sole striker.

Assuming he adopts a similar approach that will make him primarily Serge Aurier’s problem, who’ll have to stop him cutting into the box from that side. Aurier did an excellent job keeping Eden Hazard quiet last time out and Mauricio Pochettino will want to see more of the same from the Ivorian.  

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