Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal: Five Key Battles

Assou Ekotto

Perhaps the most consistently entertaining fixture in English football rolls around again this weekend, and fans of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal know that their sides are playing for far more than just bragging rights on Sunday.

Here is a run-down of the key battles...

Gareth Bale vs Carl Jenkinson

Whilst Bale is essentially playing in a free role at the moment, in Sagna's absence, Jenkinson will still be the key man against the Welshman, either out on his flank or communicating with the rest of his defence to ensure Bale is covered when he moves infield. Bale is one of the most in form players in Europe at the moment, and Spurs might try and keep the match tight hoping he can grab them a goal. Jenkinson and the Arsenal defence know he is the main threat they must curb in order to win the match.

Mousa Dembele vs Jack Wilshere

The Belgian midfielder has been a rock for Spurs this season, but his form has dipped since Sandro was ruled out with injury. Dembele is key to both the side's defensive and attacking play, and even when not on his game, it is hard to dominate the Spurs midfield when he is there. However Jack Wilshere is a player with enough quality to control any match, and if Dembele is not on top form on Sunday, Wilshere could take charge of proceedings. Both have fitness worries, so the midfield battle could come down to which of them is physically able to produce their best in the final 20 minutes.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto vs Theo Walcott

Walcott's form might have dipped slightly compared to the blistering run he produced around Christmas, but he is still a clear threat to Spurs high back line. Assou-Ekotto will likely be brought in at left back with Vertonghen moving into the centre, and he will have to be at his sharpest to ensure Walcott isn't allowed space the counter. Hugo Lloris will also play a role in sweeping balls over the top for Walcott to run onto, and the whole of Spurs defence must stay alert to the England international's pacy breaks.

Emmanuel Adebayor vs Thomas Vermaelen

Adebayor has been poor for Spurs this season, and whilst there are some mitigating factors such as injuries and international duty, he has a lot to do to prove to fans at White Hart Lane. If there is one game he will want to impress in, it is this one, but he must not get carried away as he did in the reverse fixture early in the season. Vermaelen has also had a under par season, and if Adebayor does turn up on Sunday, he will be a real handful for the Belgian defender as for all his faults, the striker could be the key to the match.

Scott Parker vs Santi Cazorla

Parker has not been able to reproduce the form he showed last season for Spurs since returning from injury, and so far his partnership with Dembele has lacked creativity. Tottenham Hotspur need the English player to find his touch this weekend, as Santi Cazorla is one man who has returned to form in recent weeks after a quiet January. The Spanish midfielder has been producing key goals for his side lately, Parker will have to keep close to ensure he doesn’t find the net again on Sunday.

images: © Ronnie Macdonald, © jtadych

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