Five key battles for Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

The second mega derby of the weekend sees Arsenal taking on North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

This is a derby which has held a lot of significance over the last couple of seasons with the sides trading blows in attempts to be the team that joins Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City in the Premier League’s top four.

Both sides could react to the result of this match on transfer deadline day but regardless of who plays and any problems which are exposed, it’s guaranteed to be a very tense and exciting 90 minutes of football.

Here are the key battles to keep a close eye on.

Bacary Sagna v Roberto Soldado

Soldado may not have been at Tottenham for very long but he has enough experience to know that he should be drifting onto Sagna if the Frenchman continues to deputise at centre back.

Sagna has performed well in that position so far but this will be a real test for him due to Soldado’s pace, movement and ability to drag defenders out of position.

Carl Jenkinson v Nacer Chadli

Similarly to Soldado, Chadli will see Jenkinson as a weakness in the Arsenal back four and may urge Andre Villas-Boas to let him play down that side so he can get after the full back.

Jenkinson certainly has the pace to be able to cope with Chadli but the real test comes in terms of how hard the Belgian tries to get Jenkinson to drift inside with him, creating extra space for an overlapping player.

Aaron Ramsey v Paulinho

Aaron Ramsey is probably not the midfielder that Paulinho would have been expecting to keep an eye on but the Welshman’s superb start to the season makes him a real threat to Spurs.

Ramsey is popping up all over the pitch, utilising his tendencies as an attacking and creative player rather than being confined by a defensive or wide role.

Paulinho’s job is to sit and protect the back four, picking off runs and intercepting passes, generally reading passages of play before they have developed.

Theo Walcott v Danny Rose

Walcott’s pace makes him a real threat against any full back but this will be a real test for Rose if he retains his place in the Spurs starting side.

Rose has continued his form from his loan spell at Sunderland last season and he is a quick player but if he can’t change up gears when Walcott is in full swing, that could be a very successful way in behind the Tottenham back four for the Gunners.

Olivier Giroud v Jan Vertonghen

Giroud will prefer to drift onto Jan Vertonghen because while he’s a very good centre back, he doesn’t have the same physical size and presence as Michael Dawson.

There are going to be spells in this match where Arsenal play the ball long and Giroud has a better chance of dominating against Vertonghen because he has a greater height advantage over the Belgian than he does with the English man.

If Giroud can bully Vertonghen physically, he will have the time and space to hold the ball up, turn and get shots in under little pressure.

What do you see as the key battle for this match?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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