Whether a corner has been turned at Arsenal or not, there is the small matter of a north London derby to contend with on Sunday – the Gunners’ first ever visit to the new home of their bitter rivals.
Recent weeks would suggest that the current trajectories of both clubs are leading towards different paths, but for matches such as these, the ‘form book goes out of the window’ phrase always comes into play.
Tottenham vs. Arsenal is such an engrossing Premier League fixture that rarely disappoints, but in order for Mikel Arteta’s side to claim a positive result, what team should he field to maintain their impressive recent run of form? Should be stick with the current formula, or shake things up?
Here is how Arsenal should line up on Sunday.
Emiliano Martinez (GK) – A simple choice that Arteta will be forced to make, but not one he will be fearful of. Martinez has taken up the mantle from Bernd Leno effortlessly, conceding just twice in the five matches since, demonstrating tidy distribution and looking composed in possession.
Shkodran Mustafi (CB) – It might be hard to comprehend, with each member of that trio capable of calamity at any given moment, but Arsenal’s defence has been relatively solid in recent weeks. Yet, there is strength in numbers, as they say, which has been evident in Mustafi’s decent displays of late.
David Luiz (CB) – Again, another player who Arsenal fans would rather see out of the side has forced his way back into it. Luiz is far more suited to a back three for the added protection he (desperately) needs, and his long-range passing ability might be key on Sunday night.
Sead Kolasinac (CB) – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, that should be the mantra against Spurs, which again is crazy to think when all of the three central defenders will likely not be first-choice picks for the coming season.
Hector Bellerin (RWB) – Given Arteta’s 3-4-3 formation is more than often lined up as a back three as opposed to a back five, the likes of Bellerin are given more freedom to roam further up the pitch. Since the restart his performances haven’t been great, but there was a distinct improvement against Leicester that should see him maintain his place.
Dani Ceballos (CM) – It’s taken a while, but Arsenal fans are finally seeing glimpses of the real Ceballos. His ball distribution and work-rate have been exemplary of late, while the manner with which he’s carried the ball through the thirds has fans reminiscing about former Gunner Santi Cazorla. Far too soon to compare, but positive signs nonetheless.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – It’s been a season of two halves for Xhaka. The first half was toxic and meaningless, while since Arteta has come in he’s offered the stability the back line had been craving so desperately under Unai Emery. In the 13 matches he’s played 90 minutes under Arteta domestically, Arsenal have yet to lose. Says it all.
Kieran Tierney (LWB) – Tierney has been nothing short of superb since the restart. It’s the first time he’s had a regular run in the side due to various injuries, but is now looking like a snip at just £25m. Whether it’s on the left of a back four, part of a back three or further forward as a wing-back, he’s shone.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – For someone still only 18 years old, what has been asked of Bukayo Saka can, in many ways, be deemed too much. Playing in about six difference positions this season, the maturity and composure he’s shown is startling. Once again he will need to play in an unfavoured role on Sunday to accommodate his fellow forwards. But as shown in the last two matches, he’ll have no problem doing so.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – Is his goal ratio good enough? No. Does he squander too many key chances? Yes. Does he work his socks off and unsettle defenders, thus bringing out the best in his teammates? Absolutely. You can’t avoid the fact that Lacazette needs to score more, but a shaky Tottenham defence needs getting at, and he’s the man to do it.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW) – Likely still reeling from his penalty miss in the dying embers of their last trip to Tottenham (well, Wembley but whatever), Aubameyang will be the key threat for Spurs to deal with.
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