Talking Tactics: All the key battles as decisive North London derby looms

Tom Hancock
LiveScore
12/05/202209:35
Stopping in-form forward Heung-Min Son will be key to Arsenal’s chances of securing a result at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Stopping in-form forward Heung-Min Son will be key to Arsenal’s chances of securing a result at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

North London derbies do not get much bigger than tonight's clash in N17. 

Arsenal travel to Tottenham knowing that victory will secure Champions League qualification — and shatter their fierce rivals' hopes of finishing in the top four. 

We take a look at where this evening's clash could be won and lost as Spurs prepare to host the Gunners.

Cedric vs Son

This looks like quite the mismatch on paper — and it may well prove to be so. 

With Kieran Tierney out and Ben White a doubt with a hamstring injury, Arsenal will have to shuffle the pack in defence.

Arguably Arsenal's weak link, Cedric Soares could be in for a very busy night indeed against Heung-Min Son, who comes into this fixture in scintillating form. 

Spurs' No7 has bagged nine goals in his last seven appearances, including the opener in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield. 

It goes without saying that his blistering pace helps him get into those scoring positions and that, coupled with the South Korean's devastating movement, might prompt Gunners boss Mikel Arteta to deploy the more athletic White at right-back instead if he is fit.

Arsenal claimed a comfortable 3-1 derby win over Tottenham in the reverse fixture
Arsenal claimed a comfortable 3-1 derby win over Tottenham in the reverse fixture

Emerson vs Martinelli or Smith Rowe

If Cedric is Arsenal's least reliable defender then Emerson Royal could well be Tottenham's Achilles' heel — the Brazilian has still yet to fully convince in the right wing-back role. 

And this may be an area that the Gunners look to exploit through the wizardry of either Gabriel Martinelli or Emile Smith Rowe. 

A lack of options on the right flank mean that Antonio Conte has little choice but to stick with Emerson. 

However, he will be buoyed by the 23-year-old's display against Liverpool on Saturday, which was one of his strongest performances this season.

Gabriel and White vs Kane

Harry Kane has managed 13 Premier League goals for Tottenham this term
Harry Kane has managed 13 Premier League goals for Tottenham this term

Clearly, no centre-backs are going to find it easy coming up against Harry Kane — and Spurs' star man has been in fine form over the past few months. 

He may only have found the net once in his last seven outings but it is not just the England captain's goal threat that Gunners defenders will have to worry about. 

Tottenham's No10 may just be the best in the world when it comes to dropping off and creating chances. 

With that in mind, Arteta could switch to a back three and have the middle centre-half man-mark Kane all evening.

Sessegnon vs Saka

Bukayo Saka has been a key player for Arsenal this season, recording six Premier League assists so far
Bukayo Saka has been a key player for Arsenal this season, recording six Premier League assists so far

If Bukayo Saka passes a fitness test, we are set to witness a thrilling tussle on the Spurs left between two players who could light up North London derbies for years to come. 

Ryan Sessegnon and Saka are likely to be the two youngest players on the pitch at 21 and 20 respectively — and both seem to know exactly what to expect from the occasion. 

In an interview last month, the resurgent Sessegnon predicted that it would be "a crazy, crazy game". 

Saka also spoke about the match ahead of Arsenal's 2-1 win over Leeds at the weekend. 

He said: "I don't think there can be anything that motivates us more [than beating their arch-rivals to fourth place]. We're already motivated enough, but we obviously don't want to lose it to them."

Tomiyasu vs Kulusevski

Takehiro Tomiyasu has only made two starts since returning from injury and he will have to be at his sharpest to deal with Dejan Kulusevski. 

After playing 90 minutes at left-back against Leeds in Tierney's absence, he could line up on the unfamiliar flank again this evening.

Spurs' Swedish sensation Kulusevski has made quite an impact since joining on loan from Juventus in January, forming perhaps the most in-form front three in the league with Kane and Son. 

Tomiyasu has made a similar splash since arriving at Arsenal from Bologna last summer, though, setting up another tantalising contest at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Tags

Premier LeagueTottenham HotspurArsenal

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