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Spurs vs Gunners: Derby Day Matchups to Keep an Eye On

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Hysteria about doing a ‘runner’ last season and Antonio Conte’s “complaining” jibes indicate no love was lost between these two clubs after their most recent Seven Sisters clash in May.

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Ahead of the game, here are three battles that you need to watch out for.

1: Yves Bissouma vs Thomas Partey

Persistent injury problems and lengthy absences mean the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is yet to see the best of Thomas Partey, but the Ghanaian is now fully fit and should wield great influence this weekend.

Partey offers Arsenal a psychological boost as he exudes composure and has vast experience at the highest level which will help to calm nerves in the cauldron-like atmosphere.

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And on the pitch, Spurs’ deep set-up often affords opponents time and space to move the ball, with this game-state giving the Ghanaian licence to dictate play and sustain pressure in the final third – or even launch another derby rocket.

Although the loss of Rodrigo Bentancur would be a significant blow for the hosts, Bissouma’s work rate and tackling skills bolster their defensive strength and could disrupt Arsenal’s build-up rhythm, while his progressive inclinations might force the Gunners’ engine room to work in the opposite direction.

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2: Eddie Nketiah vs Cristian Romero

Eddie Nketiah is someone who did feature in the May demolition, and the in-form striker will have his work cut out for him against newly crowned world champion Cristian Romero.

“Cuti” forms part of a crowded Tottenham backline that endeavours to compact space in and around the box, with the Argentine using his aggression and proactive style in these situations to stifle attacks.

His strength and positional intelligence also allow him to assert dominance and can make life very difficult for any challenger.

However, Arsenal are blessed with technicians and clinical forwards who have picked the lock of many stubborn teams this season, and they will back themselves to do so again here. Arteta’s men embrace varied approach play and have their interchange down to a fine art, so there is every chance the wily Nketiah could add to his campaign tally.

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But Spurs and Romero will be ready for the challenge.

3. Oleksandr Zinchenko vs Matt Doherty

An interesting department explored in different ways by each manager.

Full-backs have always been an offensive threat under Conte’s management and their advanced role helped reignite Doherty’s north London career, with the Irishman getting his first goal of the season last week and becoming increasingly important to Spurs’ project.

 

The direct methods they employ might trouble Arsenal’s inverted system and proved quite dangerous back at the Emirates, when Spurs rivals spurned several transitional opportunities in the first half.

Dominating possession and pinning the hosts back are effective to nullify this tactic, and Zinchenko represents the league leaders’ best hope of executing it.

He boasts an incredible passing range and rarely surrenders the ball even if moving between the lines, while his central station will provide an extra, perhaps crucial presence in a congested midfield.

 

 

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