Arsenal face what could be seen as their toughest test of the season so far as high-flying neighbours Tottenham Hotspur travel across North London to the Emirates Stadium.
Both sides sit level on points in the table with identical records of four wins and one draw coming into this match. However, Spurs have a goal difference advantage of three over their bitter rivals. The Gunners have an outstanding record at home in the North London derby, with just one loss in the last 30 matches, and they will be hoping to extend this further on Sunday afternoon. They will be facing a reinvigorated, free-flowing Tottenham side as opposed to the one seen under Antonio Conte.
How Arsenal Win the North London Derby
How to Control the Match with Spurs’ New Possession Style in Full Flow
Under the guidance of Australian manager Ange Postecoglou, the Lilywhites are averaging 62% possession each game, which is a significant rise from last season’s figure of just 50%. This shows a side willing to control matches and take games to their opponents, in complete contrast to the style of former managers Conte, Nuno Espirito Sancho and Jose Mourinho. These managers primarily focused their tactics on sitting back and countering with the likes of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son excelling at being decisive in the opposition’s box.
For Arsenal to exert their dominance over Spurs they will certainly need Oleksandr Zinchenko to be on his A-game on the ball to calm things down and help his side play out of the press. The Ukrainian international will also be needed alongside Declan Rice in a pivot in midfield to allow whoever plays in the two number 8 roles, which will certainly be Martin Odegaard and one of Kai Havertz or Fabio Vieira, to have the freedom to aid in attack.
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Arsenal Attacking Firepower Can Pin Spurs Back
Mikel Arteta said that they are “still assessing” Gabriel Martinelli’s fitness ahead of the North London derby. His pace and trickery will be missed if he fails to make the game.
Leandro Trossard will be the favourite to start in the left-wing position if Martinelli is not fit, and his impressive form and technical ability mean he is perfect for this big-game atmosphere. The Belgian international has scored twice and assisted once in the two games he has played in the last week, and you would not question him to finish a chance or pick out a pass when needed.
On the other side, Bukayo Saka will be hoping to be facing more of what he experienced against PSV on Wednesday night in the Champions League. England’s Player of the Year had an enjoyable evening as he attacked against just one opposition defender and managed to bag himself a goal and an assist. This is in complete contrast to what he faces every week in the Premier League when opposition managers advise their teams to double, or even sometimes, triple up when he is attacking down the right-hand side. With Spurs willing to attack Arsenal, unlike many at the Emirates, there could be spaces open for Saka to attack and one-on-one duels that the young Englishman will relish.
Gabriel Jesus Has to Start Up Front After Incredible Display in the Champions League
Gabriel Jesus has been working his way back to full fitness after missing the first few games of the season after undergoing knee surgery. But now the Brazilian striker should be ready to start his first Premier League game of the season after scoring a goal midweek and excelling as the focal point in Arteta’s side. His exuberance up front is unmatched, and the lack of press seen by the Gunners at the start of the season may be down to missing the relentless energy that Jesus possesses.
Arsenal’s number 9 is known for harrying defenders and never letting them have a moment’s rest. In such a big game, the Gunners will be hoping for a fast start, and the crowd will be willing them forward to win the ball high up the pitch and to threaten Tottenham’s defence in every action. The perfect player for this occasion is Jesus, and his technical ability should cause the Lilywhites nightmares. He also scored in this fixture last year, so will know how to get the better of the Tottenham defence.
The vital factors to breaking down this Tottenham side for Arsenal will be trying to start fast and dictate the tempo. The likes of Zinchenko, Rice and Odegaard will have to keep their nerve and be brave on the ball. However, there will be periods when Spurs control possession, and that’s when they have to attack the space that opens up and allow their forwards to cause chaos in the opposite box.