Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Five key battles

Arsenal host local rivals Tottenham in the pick of the FA Cup fixtures this weekend.

Arsenal take on Tottenham in the North London derby for the standout FA Cup fixture of the third round ties.

This could have been an excuse for both sides to rest players who have been used extensively throughout the Christmas and New Year period but the magnitude of the match doesn’t allow Arsene Wenger or Tim Sherwood that luxury.

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There will be key match ups and individual battles breaking out all over the pitch tomorrow and here are just a few of the key clashes worth keeping an eye on.

Wojciech Szczesny v Hugo Lloris

This is a cup tie and it could be a very open game with two sides which have plenty of talented attacking players.

Szczesny and Lloris have been two of the most consistent goalkeepers this season and while they won’t be in direct competition, their managers will look to each of them to get their teams out of jail when the defence is breached.

Per Mertesacker v Roberto Soldado

There is going to be a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Soldado if Emmanuel Adebayor isn’t fit enough to feature in this game.

Per Mertesacker will fancy the challenge of matching up against Soldado physically and he’ll try and make it as difficult as possible for the Spaniard to have time and space or to move freely in Arsenal’s defensive third.

Mathieu Flamini v Christian Eriksen

With Adebayor injured and unlikely to play, that should see Christian Eriksen moved off of Tottenham’s left wing and into the middle.

If Eriksen plays as an attacking midfielder, then his direct opponent is likely to be Mathieu Flamini and the Spurs man needs to be up for the challenge, as Flamini has not been afraid to be aggressive and get stuck in this season.

Santi Cazorla v Kyle Walker

This is a battle that the Tottenham man will fancy his chances of winning.

Cazorla is not a natural left winger and his urge is always to move inside and get involved with the play from central areas. That could provide a lot of space for Walker to operate down his side.

It’s important for Tottenham that Walker doesn’t drift inside when Cazorla moves into the middle.

Lukas Podolski v Michael Dawson

Podolski will more than likely continue in attack in the absence of Olivier Giroud and Michael Dawson is the defender he’ll probably prefer to drift onto.

Dawson doesn’t have the same levels of pace as Podolski which is something the German will be aware of. Dawson’s job is to work well alongside Vlad Chiriches to give himself every chance of dealing with Podolski when the Arsenal man is on his side of the defence.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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