Tom Canton – Arsenal Fan Brands Writer
This is the most unpredictable North London Derby I can remember. The last two times that Mikel Arteta has gone to Spurs we played directly into Jose Mourinho’s hands and conceded four goals as the counterattack ruined us.
This time however the emphasis is on Tottenham to attack. Arteta needs to play in a measured way to draw out the mistakes from his opponent. Ask Spurs to break a side down and they tend to struggle, give them the opportunity to run at you whilst your team retreats and spaces open and you may as well just accept your fate.
The full-back areas are for me the most key in terms of selection. I would, bearing in mind fitness, go with a back four of Ben White at right back, Takehiro Tomiyasu at left back with Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes in the middle.
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This means there is no player with a mindset of overcommitting and going forwards giving Arsenal a strong foundation and enough security to cope with the Spurs frontline. Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka shielding the defence and providing the link to the attack have done a great job. Elneny in particular is great for these types of games as shown at Old Trafford last season and Stamford Bridge a couple of weeks ago.
I thought Gabriel Martinelli was absolutely brilliant against Leeds. Were it not for some poor finishing, he could have had the perfect game. I am so excited to see him challenge Emerson Royal and Cristian Romero, with the hope he can expose both of them to create opportunities for Eddie Nketiah.
The striker remains the touchpaper for the recent run of wins and goals. Not only this but his energy to harass the enemy backline and to force problems. He did it well against Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham but versus Leeds, he was rewarded with a goal.
Lastly, for me, this is Martin Odegaard’s moment. Some criticism has been levelled at the Norwegian for not stepping up enough in the biggest games. Well, this is the biggest. Already a scorer in a North London Derby, the current captain and carrier of the central creative expectation of the side can be the key to unlocking Antonio Conte’s defence. In particular, linking up with his perfect partner Bukayo Saka.
Canton’s Arsenal XI vs Tottenham – Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Elneny, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli.
Bailey Keogh – Arsenal Fan Brands Writer
Arsenal must approach the game against Tottenham with a defensive mentality. Arteta used a more defensive system against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this season, and the Gunners thrived as they came out 4-2 winners. The same mentality and formation should be followed for another tough trip to Spurs.
Ben White should return to the centre-back position replacing Rob Holding, as the White and Gabriel Magalhaes partnership was excellent in stifling Harry Kane in the reverse fixture. This also means that Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric Soares should swap sides from the game against Leeds, as Tomiyasu must be tasked with nullifying the threat of Heung-Min Son which he had done in the reverse fixture.
The experience and rigged pivot system of Granit Xhaka and Elneny must be utilized to prevent Kane from dropping deep between the defence and midfield where he has proven most threatening this season. And Odegaard should play on the top of this pivot in a 4-2-3-1 system for Arsenal.
Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka maintain their places on the wings to give Arsenal a pacey threat on the counterattack. It goes without saying that Eddie Nketiah should be leading the line ahead of Alexandre Lacazette after his recent form.
Keogh’s Arsenal XI vs Tottenham: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Cedric; Elneny, Xhaka; Martinelli, Odegaard, Saka; Nketiah.
Tashan Deniran-Alleyne – Arsenal Writer
One of the biggest decisions Mikel Arteta has to make is what system he opts for against Tottenham. With Brighton and Brentford both deploying a back three to limit Spurs’ threat, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spaniard follows suit especially as Arsenal do not have to win.
But as the reward of all three points is securing Champions League football with two games to spare, I want Arteta to go for it. This means sticking with the 4-3-3 formation that has been the catalyst behind this top-four push.
Hopefully Benjamin White is available again, and if so it’s a straight swap for Rob Holding in central defence. Arteta’s decision to experiment with Takehiro Tomiyasu at left-back against Leeds United felt like a clear sign that he doesn’t trust Nuno Tavares in back four away at Spurs – and I can’t say I disagree.
The midfield trio picks itself, as does two-thirds at the top of the pitch. But once again there’s a tough call to make with regard to who starts on the left side of the attack. It’s obviously between Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, and whoever misses out can feel disappointed.
I thought Martinelli was excellent against Leeds, although he should have scored, and I back him cause Emerson Royal had problems all night so he gets the nod over Smith Rowe for me.
Deniran-Alleyne’s Arsenal XI vs Tottenham: Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Elneny, Odegaard, Xhaka; Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli.
Kaya Kaynak – Arsenal writer
For this game where the stakes are so high, I feel like I want a system that maximises Arsenal’s attacking strengths, while not giving too much away defensively. With that in mind, I’m going for a back five.
The back three I’m going for is not the typical Rob Holding in the middle affair though. I’m sticking Takehiro Tomiyasu on the left, Gabriel in the middle and Ben White on the right. Both flanking centre backs are comfortable drifting to the wide areas to cover wing backs if need be and they’re both excellent one-vs-one defenders. Also how are you gonna bring on Holding to lock down the game late on if he starts the match?!
The wing backs I’d go for would be Bukayo Saka on the left and Cedric on the right. Both are defensively switched on and can provide crossing delivery that will force Spurs wing backs towards their own goal.
My midfield two is Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka and then I’m going for a double ten system. That features Martin Odegaard of course, but unfortunately, Gabriel Martinelli does not fit in stylistically. That means it’s Emile Smith Rowe looking to score against Tottenham in consecutive matches and play a similar role to the one he mastered against Chelsea.
Up front it would be Eddie Nkeitah looking to poach some more vital goals that boost the Gunners on their way to the top four.
Kaynak’s Arsenal XI vs Tottenham – Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Saka; Elneny, Xhaka; Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Nketiah.
Chris Wheatley – Chief Arsenal Correspondent
Mikel Arteta looked to build a solid defensive platform against Leeds and considering how well it worked I’d look to do the exact same thing again.
That means continuing with Takehiro Tomiyasu at left back and Cedric playing over on the left. The only change I’d look to make would be to have Ben White coming back in for Rob Holding assuming he’s fit.