Five Key Battles that will decide Tottenham vs Arsenal

In one of two local derbies Premier League football will be enriched with this weekend, Arsenal visit north London rivals Tottenham for a fixture that often throws up unpredictable results.

Admittedly, the Lilywhites haven’t had the best luck over the Emirates outfit in recent campaigns, winning just once in their last six attempts. But they’re currently just two points behind the Gunners in the Premier League table and amid a run of six wins in their last eight league fixtures.

That includes a 5-3 thumping of Chelsea at White Hart Lane, so Spurs will fancy another scalp at home – especially following news that Arsenal’s leading goalscorer, Alexis Sanchez, will be absent through injury.

Does that make Tottenham the favourites for the north London derby, or will the visitors breeze them aside once again? It’s a match that could come down to who dominates the key individual battles, so with that in mind we’ve listed the FIVE most important.

MESUT OZIL VS KYLE WALKER


With Alexis Sanchez now ruled out of Arsenal’s visit to White Hart Lane, Mesut Ozil will likely take the former Barcelona star’s place on the left side of the Gunners’ attack – the same role that saw him grab a goal and assist against Aston Villa last weekend.

The German international is still yet to live up to the billing of a £42.2million signing, but his quality and ability to impact matches remains undoubted, having proved it regularly during three years with Real Madrid and during the last two World Cups, lifting the trophy with Die Mannschaft in the summer.

After the first 18 months of his Gunners tenure being ruptured by injuries and turbulent form, the 26 year-old will be keen to get the fan base and the doubters back onside with an impressive performance in the north London derby.

He’ll assumedly be up against Kyle Walker, who has produced some decent form since returning from injury in December, averaging 2.6 tackles, 2.6 interceptions and one successful dribble per match.

The 24 year-old’s defining attribute is his ballistic pace, but it’s his other qualities that will be tested most by Arsenal’s record acquisition – particularly his tackling ability and anticipation of movement -as a naturally central playmaker who will be determined to come inside whenever the opportunity allows.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN VS FRANCIS COQUELIN


Arsenal hotshot Francis Coquelin has produced some promising form in recent weeks – particularly against Manchester City at the Etihad where he played a vital role in ensuring the clean sheet amid a 2-0 win.

He reads the game well, offers relative pace and can pick a pass forward, but in Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen the Frenchman will be facing one of the Premier League’s most in-form No.10s and potentially his toughest test yet.

That may seem a tad hyperbolic, but the Danish prodigy has grabbed nine goals and one assist already this term, whilst his importance to Tottenham’s build-up play cannot be overstated, currently averaging 2.3 chances created per match.

Most important, however, is that Coquelin stays switched on for the whole ninety minutes when attempting to eliminate the 22 year-old from the game. Eriksen has claimed a near-incredible three late winners this term coming in the 88th minute or later, and that regard as a match-winner, he’s undisputedly Tottenham’s talisman.

Keeping the playmaking goalscorer on a tight leash will bring Arsenal considerably closer to victory; but failing to do so will equally cost them dearly.

HARRY KANE VS LAURENT KOSCILENY


In what has already been an incredible season for Harry ‘one of our own, Hurrikane’ Kane, the 21 year-old has netted twenty times across all competitions. That includes ten goals in the Premier League and a run of seven in his last eight top flight outings, in addition to a Man of the Match award-earning brace against Chelsea.

A relentless buzz-saw of unpredictable netting prowess, what stands out most in Kane’s game is his incredible work-rate and contribution to all-round play, continually popping up in pockets of space to take efforts at goal or create opportunities for others.

He’s also averaged 1.1 tackles per match this term – so Arsenal’s backline should expect to be put under pressure all afternoon by the England U21.

Offering enough pace and guile to run rings around Per Mertesacker, the speedier Laurent Koscielny must pay specific attention to safeguarding his battle-cruiser of a centre-back partner. The Spurs striker has continually proved in recent weeks that he only needs a few yards on his defender to develop a chance at goal.

Kane’s a born and bred Tottenham boy, so he’ll be hell bent on making an impact for the Lilywhites in the North London derby – arguably the most important fixture on the Spurs calendar.

SANTI CAZORLA VS RYAN MASON


Another Tottenham youngster that’s really come to the fore this season is Ryan Mason, who was resultantly issued a new five-year contract last week. The 23 year-old was overlooked by prior managers, making his Premier League debut for Spurs six seasons after his inaugural first team outing.

Mauricio Pochettino however, views the midfielder as the epitome of the philosophy he’s implementing at White Hart Lane – particularly his blend of industry, athleticism and technique, averaging 3.3 tackles and one chance created per match this term.

He remains relatively inexperienced however, with just 16 Premier League outings under his belt thus far, and that’s a weakness Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla should be capable of exploiting.

Re-emerging from the fringes of the Emirates roster, the Spain international has produced stunning form in recent weeks, claiming six goals, five assists and four Man of the Match awards in his last eleven Premier League outings.

His performance against Manchester City, registering two tackles, three interceptions, two created chances and a monolithic ten successful dribbles, was particularly pleasing and the 29 year-old has struck up quite the understanding with engine room accomplices Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin.

Cazorla’s been Arsenal’s pace setter in recent weeks so Mason really needs to do a job on him, whilst simultaneously supporting Tottenham’s attack as much as possible.

OLIVIER GIROUD VS FEDERICO FAZIO


Repaying Arsene Wenger’s continued faith in his services, Olivier Giroud boasts an impressive return of seven goals in just eight Premier League starts this term, managing twelve appearances in total.

More important than the France international’s goals however is his link-up play, bringing the Gunners’ supremely talented midfield into the game as much as possible through his imposing 6 foot 4 frame and technical qualities. The stats suggest he’s been performing that task well, winning 49% of all duels this term whilst creating just under one goal-scoring opportunity per match.

In Federico Fazio however, he faces perhaps the Premier League’s most underrated acquisition of the summer. Tottenham activated his ¬£8million release clause during the summer and the Argentine centre-back has gone on to form a formidable partnership with Jan Vertonghen.

It’s the 6 foot 5 defender’s ability in the air which stands out most, and could make him particularly effective in nullifying Giroud. The Argentine has averaged 5.2 successful aerial duels per match this term, making him second to only Andy Carroll throughout the Premier League and the solitary centre-back in the division’s top five.

Despite Giroud’s aerial prowess and the uniquely direct option he offers Arsenal, the Gunners need to keep the ball on the deck as much as possible or they’ll be playing into the monolithic defender’s hands.

 


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