Game week 12 of the Premier League is around the corner and it brings to us one of the most anticipated clashes of the year. Arsenal versus Tottenham Hotspur is the biggest London Derby and the one who takes the bragging rights in this one will go a long way in cementing a top four place this season.
Arsenal, currently sitting at seventh place in the table are a point behind Tottenham and a loss in this clash will certainly hit their hopes hard. They started the season hoping to be involved in the title race and 11 games into the season, look to have already conceded their target being a massive 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.
On the other hand, Tottenham will aim to qualify for the Champions League next season and know very well that just by finishing fourth, a berth in the elite European competition isn't guaranteed; as they learnt it the hard way last season.
Goal.com analyses the three key battles that could decide the outcome of the game on Saturday.
| Bacary Sagna
An astute dribbler with pace against a tough, resolute defender makes it a delightful clash of clashes. As always, Bale will try and use his pace to get past his man. And with as accurate crossing as his, he will try to do the damage from the wing. Not only this, but his tendency to drift towards the centre, making those quick diagonal runs behind the defensive line are also to watch out for.
Sagna is a hard working defender. Never the one ball watching, the Frenchman has a tough personality and will never give up on the pitch. This kind of an attitude is what is required against someone like Bale. He usually manages to outrun his markers but this weekend, he will surely have a tough outing only because of Sagna’s sheer determination.
Bale will run straight at the defender with a confidence that even the best full back in the world might find his pace difficult to handle (Remember a certain Champions League game when the then “best in the world” Maicon was torn to pieces by Bale in 2010). Sagna will have to be at his very best both physically and mentally to handle him. He would most definitely require the help of the attacking player ahead of him to track the movement of the Welshman.
| Santi Cazorla
Cazorla has had a great start to life in the Premier League. Having being given the number 10 role by Wenger, he has made it his own by linking up play with Mikel Arteta and providing those lethal final passes for the attacking trio up front. He has adapted to English game well and has taken no time to settle.
The only thing that seemed missing was a lethal finisher in the side, but now that Olivier Giroud seems to have found his scoring boots, Cazorla will be even more confident of putting in those final balls for him. He’s been given the support by Wenger he requires to thrive on the field and his performances have shown that he has kept the faith rather well.
Sandro, a defensive midfielder who is hard in the tackle will have a busy day at the Emirates this weekend. He has enough stamina in him to run down each and every pass in the centre of the park. More in the mould of a box-to-box midfielder, Sandro has become an important player for Spurs this season. His break up play is more than decent, along with his work ethic which is good. His main job will be to keep Cazorla in his pockets in this game and thereby control the midfield. Cazorla more often than not becomes the main supplier of passes across the park for Arsenal and if his movement is curtailed, Spurs could taste blood.
| Per Mertesacker
With Jermaine Defoe unlikely to start after training alone this week due to an injury, Emmanuel Adebayor will get the nod. He did start last week against Manchester City and his performance in the first half was commendable though he went invisible after the break given that Spurs decided to sit back and absorb the pressure.Adebayor will certainly be not short on confidence against his former side at the Emirates as he would once again love to remind them of his qualities. What makes him a dangerous customer is his ability to hold up play, dribbling and aerial ability. He also helps his team-mates get on the scoresheet which further accentuates his threat.
Mertesacker has been a solid defender but lacks agility and pace which proves to be very important in the English game. He can be easily beaten by trickery and here is where Adebayor will try to take advantage of him. Koscielny will have to be on his toes to help out his defensive partner in order to keep Adebayor in check and this battle might prove to be the most important.
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