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Spurs: Conte must ditch Emerson vs Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur entertain bitter rivals Arsenal as the north London derby headlines this afternoon’s Premier League action in what is a hugely consequential game for both teams.

The Gunners head into this chaotic clash as league leaders and after Manchester City‘s defeat to their red counterparts on Saturday, still hold a five-point cushion, whilst for the Lilywhites, it’s a chance to gain more ground in the race for the top-four, where they currently sit two points adrift of.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte will be battling the temptation to stick with some of the players that contributed to back-to-back victories in recent weeks – a 4-0 whitewash of Crystal Palace and a narrow 1-0 win over Portsmouth in the FA Cup third round.

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Today’s fixture, however, presents a different kettle of fish so the Italian must turn to his tried-and-tested and most reliable options. Therefore, right wing-back Emerson Royal must revert back to the bench, despite putting in a more positive display against Pompey, where he was Tottenham’s fourth-best performer, per Sofascore ratings.

But this is the league leaders, not a mid-table League One side – with all due respect.

Since the return to domestic action after the World Cup, the Brazilian – who cost £26m – has seemingly lost his place to Matt Doherty, failing to start in the league since the 4-3 win over Leeds United. A game in which he was hooked before the hour mark, at a time when Spurs were not winning the game.

That should hardly come as much of a surprise, given the 24-year-old dud was lambasted as a “complete liability” and a “mistake just waiting to happen” by former Lilywhites midfielder and talkSPORT presenter Jamie O’Hara earlier this season.

As many as 11 players are managing a better average rating in the English top-flight this term, including the aforementioned Irishman.

Doherty was actually on the scoresheet in the win over the Eagles and was listed as one of the main players to catch the eye by reporter Alasdair Gold in his post-match column.

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If anyone is to know how much this fixture means – in what could be a very hostile atmosphere – then it’s the former Wolverhampton Wanderers dynamo, given his past links to the Gunners.

Emerson’s erratic nature, inconsistencies and lack of true quality could put Spurs at a major disadvantage as his likely opponent in Gabriel Martinelli – or alternatively, Bukayo Saka – could terrorise him all afternoon with the duo contributing to 13 goals and eight assists alone.

As such, Conte must be bold and revert back to dropping the ex-Barcelona flop to the bench this afternoon. He should have no place in the starting XI come kickoff.

AND in other news, Journalist drops claim on Emerson Royal’s future at Hotspur Way…