Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will add a new chapter to their north London rivalry when they square off at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday (October 1). Saturday lunchtime’s clash will mark the 171st league meeting between Arsenal and Tottenham. However, 162 of those have been derbies in the truest sense, as the Gunners only moved to north London in 1913 (originally from Plumstead).
Mikel Arteta’s side have a healthy lead when it comes to the head-to-head record, with the Gunners claiming 68 wins as opposed to Spurs’ 55. Additionally, the Lilywhites have not gotten the better of their neighbors at the Emirates Stadium since November 2010, with them securing a 2-1 win on that occasion. Last season, Arteta’s men came out on top in their backyard, securing a 3-1 win over then-Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
A lot has changed since Spurs’ last visit to Arsenal. Now managed by Antonio Conte, third-placed Tottenham seem like a team reborn, considerably sharper and hungrier. The Gunners have also grown, emerging as the Premier League leaders in the 2022-23 campaign with 18 points after seven gameweeks.
Considering the number of match winners on each side, Saturday’s north London derby could go either way. Below, we will take a look at five key battles that could determine the outcome of the action-packed encounter at the Emirates:
#5 Martin Odegaard vs Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard is widely hailed as one of the best attacking midfielders in the English Premier League. With his intelligent ground passes, visionary long-balls, slick movement, and commendable finishing, the Norwegian is capable of giving even the tightest defenses a run for their money. The former Real Madrid man has featured in six Premier League games for the Gunners this season, scoring thrice.
Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg may not be as gifted when it comes to attacking play, but he is more than capable of doing considerable damage to the opposition. Sitting deep, he can expertly block passing lanes and cut out threatening passes. He can also push forward and lend his attack a helping hand when needed. The Dane, who has scored twice and claimed an assist this season, could prove to be a worthy adversary to the Gunners’ Odegaard.
#4 Bukayo Saka vs Ivan Perisic
A veteran teeming with experience against a youngster bubbling with talent, the clash between Bukayo Saka and Ivan Perisic could be a thing of beauty.
Naturally a right-midfielder, Saka is capable of tormenting the opposition with his pace, link-up play, creativity, and impressive finishing. The England international thrives in space and will look to stretch his legs with every chance he gets against Tottenham. Saka has scored once and claimed four assists in seven Premier League games this season.
Perisic, who has been operating as a left-wingback/midfielder in Conte’s system this season, will be tasked with the responsibility of keeping Saka quiet. Perisic’s doggedness is one of his greatest assets, but it certainly is not his only one. He has a knack for pushing further up the pitch as well and could keep Saka busy with his darting runs. The former Inter Milan man has appeared in seven Premier League games this season, recording three assists.
#3 Heung-min Son vs Ben White
Arsenal coach Arteta has used Ben White in an unconventional right-back role this season. The Englishman has taken to his new role as well, producing one convincing performance after another. He has played in seven Premier League games this season, helping his team keep a clean sheet in three matches.
On Saturday, White is set to go up against last season’s Golden Boot-winning forward Heung-min Son. The Tottenham ace did not have the best start to the Premier League season, with him failing to find the back of the net in the first six Premier League games.
On matchday seven, he came on his own, scoring a superb hat-trick off the bench to fire his team to a 6-2 win over Leicester City. It will be interesting to see how White goes about tackling Son’s threat this Saturday.
#2 Harry Kane vs William Saliba
Having returned from a loan spell at Marseille, William Saliba has become a fixture in Arteta’s squad this season. The French center-back has been impeccable with his positioning, has effortlessly played out from the back, and has even scored a couple of goals (7 games). On Saturday, he is set to face one of the biggest tests of his career in the form of Harry Kane.
Widely hailed as one of the best center-forwards in the world, Kane is capable of conjuring something extraordinary out of thin air. He is deceptively quick, does not hesitate to drop deep, and can shoot from practically any angle. The England skipper has already found the net six times in seven Premier League games this season. It would not be surprising to see him add to his tally at the Emirates.
#1 Gabriel Jesus vs Eric Dier
The bout between Arsenal center-forward Gabriel Jesus and Tottenham defender Eric Dier could very well be the most important battle of the match. Signed from Manchester City earlier this summer, Jesus has easily been Arsenal’s best player this season. The Brazilian forward has impressed with his ability to score goals as well as create chances. So far, Jesus has taken part in seven Premier League matches, netting four times and claiming three assists.
Tottenham center-back Dier could turn out to be his main adversary on Saturday. The English defender is quick, knows how to read the game, and has a knack for overpowering his opponents. To top it off, he is capable of finding the back of the net from time to time. This term, Dier has featured in seven Premier League games for Spurs, scoring twice.
Keeping up with Jesus might not be a straightforward affair, but Dier has every tool in his locker to end Tottenham’s disastrous run in Arsenal’s backyard this Saturday.