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Arteta vs Conte, Jesus vs Romero & where Arsenal vs Spurs will be won or lost

8:00 AM WAT 30/09/2022
North London Derby battles GFX
Arsenal host bitter rivals Tottenham on Saturday and things could get fiery - on and off the pitch

The North London derby is always a huge occasion, but Saturday’s meeting between Arsenal and Tottenham is shaping up to be even bigger than normal. Mikel Arteta’s side go into the game sitting top of the Premier League after an impressive start to the season, but they are only one point above their unbeaten neighbours.

Tottenham know, then, that victory at Emirates Stadium -  a ground where they haven’t won in the league since 2010 - will see them move above their bitter rivals.

It promises to be an intriguing afternoon between two very evenly matched teams.

So where could the game be won or lost? GOAL takes a look at some of the key factors that could decide the contest...

  • Arteta Conte GFX

    Mikel Arteta vs Antonio Conte

    Observing the two managers on Saturday might be as interesting as watching what is happening on the pitch.

    As much as they might try and play it down, there is clearly going to be some animosity bubbling away under the surface when it comes to Mikel Arteta and Antonio Conte.

    The Spurs boss was clearly angered by Arteta the last time the sides met, hitting out at his counterpart after the game following Arteta’s complaints about some of the decisions that went against his side.

    “Mikel Arteta is doing a really good job but I listened to him complain a lot,” Conte said after Tottenham's 3-0 win in May. “I think he has to be focused more on his team and not complaining.

    “This is my advice. If he wants to take my advice it's up to him. I don't care. In six months I have listened to him complaining a lot. It's not good.”

    Arteta will have certainly noted those comments and he will want to get one over the Italian this weekend.

    The managers have two very different styles and the game plans they come up with for Saturday’s derby will be crucial in determining who comes out on top.

    Conte got his tactics spot on against Arsenal last time out and Spurs ended up cruising to victory, albeit against a side that had to play with 10 men for nearly an hour.

    Spurs will no doubt look to allow Arsenal to have a lot of the ball on Saturday and play on the counterattack, a tactic Manchester United used perfectly against Arsenal when the Gunners slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season.

    How Arteta sets his team up to cope with that threat will be key to Arsenal’s chances of a positive result.

  • Jesus Romero GFX

    Gabriel Jesus vs Cristian Romero

    This has all the ingredients to be a superb battle. Arsenal vs Tottenham, Brazil vs Argentina. What more could you want?

    Romero has shown during his time in England how he loves to try and wind strikers up. He’s strong, aggressive and will try and bully anyone he’s up against.

    But Jesus has proved since arriving at Arsenal how he is not afraid to give as good as he gets, and he has shown he is more than capable of dealing with a defender trying to get physical with him.

    One of Romero’s weaknesses is that he is prone to the occasional rush of blood. Sometimes he will dive in for a challenge and leave himself out of position.

    Should that happen on Saturday, then Jesus will certainly be alert enough to nick the ball away from him and get in behind.

    Both players will need to try and keep their heads amidst the intensity of the derby. Jesus is now only one booking away from a suspension, and Romero will be well aware of that and will no doubt be trying to get into his head.

    It’s an intriguing battle between two fine players.

  • Kane Partey GFX

    Harry Kane vs Thomas Partey

    Usually you would say that a battle involving a team’s central striker would also involve the opposition’s centre-back.

    But the way Kane operates for Spurs can be like a No.10 at times, such is his preference to drop deep and perform the playmaker role for runners, especially Son Heung-min.

    So Partey - providing he is passed fit following his knee issue - will have a vital role to play in trying to deny Kane the space he thrives in.

    When Partey is at his best, there is no-one better at breaking up the play and winning possession back than the Arsenal midfielder, and Arteta will be desperate to have the Ghanaian available.

    But as important as Partey stopping Kane will be to Arsenal, it will be equally as important for Spurs that Kane can escape the clutches of the former Atletico Madrid man and dictate the game the way he wants to play it.

    If he can do that and find the space to work in, Kane's ability to pick a pass and find the runners should see the visitors generate plenty of opportunities.

    It will also allow him to get his own sight of goal, something that will spell real danger for Arsenal - especially given Kane has scored against them 13 times already in the Premier League.

  • Martinelli Royal GFX

    Gabriel Martinelli vs Tottenham’s right side

    When you look at how both teams set up, the right wing-back role for Spurs looks like the one area that Arsenal could really look to exploit.

    Conte does not seem to have settled on a player to fill that role yet. He has used Emerson Royal more than most, but it was Ivan Perisic who lined up in that position against Leicester last time out.

    The expectation is that Royal will return to the line up against Arsenal and if that is the case, the Gunners will certainly look to exploit that flank and try to get at Spurs.

    Gabriel Martinelli has enjoyed a fine start to the season having already scored three goals and is a constant menace on the left side of the Arsenal attack.

    If the Brazilian youngster can win the battle against his compatriot, you feel that could be an area of the pitch where Arsenal could get a lot of joy.

  • Hojbjerg Odegaard GFX

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg vs Martin Odegaard

    This is going to be a crucial battle for both teams.

    If Odegaard plays well, then so do Arsenal. The Norway captain is hugely important to Arteta’s side.

    He’s the man who pulls the strings between the midfield and attack, and his pressing is what sets the tone for his team-mates to follow.

    If Spurs allow him time to get on the ball and drift into the space behind Jesus, then they will be in for a long afternoon. So the role that Hojbjerg has will be vital.

    He is the man who will be tasked with disrupting Arsenal and stopping them playing the type of football we’ve seen from them during the early stages of the season.

    Hojbjerg will look to frustrate Odegaard, shut down the space and get under his skin.

    If he can do that, Arsenal will find it difficult to attack with the fluidity that they have shown throughout the campaign so far.

  • Rob Holding red card Arsenal Tottenham

    The mental battle

    It’s not easy to keep a lid on the North London derby, so the role referee Anthony Taylor plays will be key.

    He’s an experienced referee and will know what to expect from the game, but both teams are going to have to be careful not to overstep the mark.

    Keeping your heads is always vitally important in a derby, and it’s something Arsenal failed to do when they travelled to Spurs at the end of last season.

    Rob Holding looked like a red card waiting to happen from the kick-off and the only surprise was that he managed to last until the 33rd minute before being sent off.

    Neither side can afford to let something like that happen on Saturday. It’s vital they keep their discipline.

    For example, Arsenal have to be smart when Spurs have the ball in and around the 18-yard box. Six of Kane’s 13 goals against the Gunners have come from the penalty spot.

    If you are up against a striker of Kane’s quality, you can’t just keep giving him free hits from 12 yards.