Tottenham vs. Arsenal: Key Battles To Watch in North London Derby

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMarch 3, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal is challenged by Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier league match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on November 17, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images,)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The biggest match of the English Premier League weekend will take place on Sunday when Tottenham Hotspur welcome Arsenal to White Hart Lane.

The two North London clubs have a bitter rivalry that is truly one of the best in the English competition, and given the thrilling 5-2 clash that we saw last time they played earlier in the year, this one looks set to be another great match and local derby.

Tottenham currently sit in fourth position at the moment, but can jump Chelsea into third place with a win here and keep their top-four dream well in control. That dream, however, could be somewhat slipping for Arsenal here if they cannot get a result in their journey to White Hart Lane.

It's shaping as another true epic of the EPL this year, so read on to see all the must-watch and potentially game-changing battles from this North London derby.


Moussa Dembele vs. Mikel Arteta

Since moving from Fulham earlier in the year, Belgian Moussa Dembele has thrived at his new club in the central midfielder role and looks to do the same again here.

Dembele is currently leading the team in pass completion percentage (something that his opponent in this match, Mikel Arteta, thrives in) and has been a true weapon for Andre Villas-Boas going forward this season. Yet whether he can do that against the pass master Arteta is another story.

The Spaniard rules a tough Gunners midfield that tries to dominate possession and chances against all of their opponents, with Spurs no exception here. He currently averages a staggering 3.4 tackles and 2.8 interceptions per game (team-high numbers) and will provide a very tough matchup for the Belgian international in this fixture—especially given how much this matchup could decide the match.


Gareth Bale vs. Bacary Sagna

Welsh winger Gareth Bale has been in simply scintillating form of late across various competitions and is arguably the most lethal player on the planet right now.

He can score goals from every angle and in every circumstance, and with the freedom afforded to him by Villas-Boas to cut in and stride through the middle, he has been a sheer revelation coming out of the North London club in the New Year.

Bacary Sagna will seemingly have a very tough time keeping the winger under wraps here and will no doubt have to be at his best to give the Gunners a chance at stopping Bale. The Frenchman has shown he can keep out some of the best wingers in the world when given the chance. Now he'll need to do so against the most in-form winger of them all.

After all, it could only take one shot from Bale to be the difference.


Jan Vertonghen vs. Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud might have gotten off to a slow start at the London club since his arrival from Ligue 1, but the French striker has slowly become a really important aspect of the Gunners' attack this season with nine goals recorded through the season so far.

Giroud is a go-to target at the top of the attack and a weapon when the ball is in the air, which makes his matchup against Jan Vertonghen here very interesting.

The Belgian international is the strong, tall, good-in-the-air type player that can shut down Giroud effectively like few others can, and he has the skill set to do that here. However, like Sagna, it may only take one slight misjudgement or error for the Frenchman to have the chance he needs to score.

Vertonghen has been arguably the best central defender in the English Premier League this season, and he'll surely find success at points in this one.

But can he maintain it for the full 90 minutes against the Gunners' attack?


What are the key matchups you're most interested in this weekend?

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