Arsenal vs Tottenham: Key tactical battles

North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham lock horns for the first time this season at the Emirates Stadium later today, with a typical blood-and-thunder encounter expected.

The sides have had different fortunes in the transfer market this summer, with a Bale-less Tottenham full of new players and the Gunners sticking with the squad that secured fourth for them last term.

There will be a number of selection issues that André Villas-Boas and Arséne Wenger will need to get right if they are to get the three points for their respective teams, with a handful of personal battles sure to capture the imagination.

The visiting boss will look to keep it tight at the back, as Spurs have shipped five goals on the last two occasions that they have visited the Emirates. With Younès Kaboul now seemingly fit after playing 90 Europa League minutes on Thursday and Vlad Chiricheș signed on Friday, Villas-Boas has options at the back.

Who plays will depend on where the Portuguese coach decides to use his best defender – Jan Vertonghen. The Belgian has forged a solid central defensive partnership with skipper Michael Dawson, but Villas-Boas may well consider using the former Ajax man at left-back.

Arsenal will look to expose Spurs’ attacking-minded full-backs, with Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott containing the speed and skill to win the game for the hosts. Tottenham’s full-backs are arguably their wink link in the side, with both Kyle Walker and Danny Rose good going forward but having question marks hanging over their positional sense in defence. As such Vertonghen may play as a full-back.

PaulinhoThe midfield battle should be a really interesting one, with in-form Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere most likely having three central opponents to deal with. The likelihood is that Sandro will remain on the bench, with Étienne Capoue, Mousa Dembélé and Paulinho looking to keep it secure in front of their back four.

Dembélé and Paulinho will take it in turns to try and support the attackers and the athleticism and boundless energy that the Tottenham men possess will take some containing. Wenger may well consider playing Tomáš Rosický in the centre of the park also to match up the numbers.

New record signing Erik Lamela could well make his debut for Tottenham, but the likelihood is that the Argentine will start from the bench rather than from the start. The likes of Nacer Chadli, Andros Townsend and Gylfi Sigurðsson are more likely to play and will need to create chances for lone frontman Roberto Soldado.

Arsenal’s attack will be based around Cazorla and Walcott predominantly, and the loss of Lukas Podolski to injury is a blow for the hosts. In Olivier Giroud the Gunners have a striker in form, with three goals in three games, and the France international will look to keep his record of hitting the back of the net up. His battle in the air against Dawson will be an eye-catching one.

The odd goal may well be enough to decide the game, with another 5-2 pummeling unlikely. The consequences of the result should not be overly analysed as both teams are well-matched and certainly will be in the mix for a top-four spot come the end of the season.

Talk of a power shift in north Lodnon is very premature, and even a Tottenham win would not change this. That said, both teams will look to get the three points and claim local bragging rights.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo,, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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