Odegaard dropped, Mari returns – Arsenal lineups
The North London Derby takes place at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the Gunners looking for revenge from the 2-0 defeat to Spurs in the reverse fixture at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this season.
Arsenal have three wins and a draw in their last four games in all competitions but go into the clash with their fierce rivals hanging onto a place in the top ten in the Premier League table.
Spurs are three places and seven points ahead of them in the table and defeat to the Lilywhites would all but condemn them to finishing below Spurs again this season.
With that in mind, who will take their place in Mikel Arteta ‘s team on Sunday afternoon?
We asked our reporters to pick their teams for the clash.
Thomas Partey was withdrawn after just 55 minutes in Athens so I would start him alongside Granit Xhaka in midfield if fit.
Bukayo Saka would obviously start on the right and despite his goalscoring turn in midweek I would drop Martin Odegaard to give Emile Smith Rowe his first start in a North London Derby at senior level.
In a game where Arsenal are going to play against a deep-lying defence having Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front doesn’t make too much sense so I would shift him out to the left, with Alexandre Lacazette – who has a terrific record in games against Spurs – through the middle to occupy Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez.
Kaynak’s team: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Tashan Deniran-Alleyne – Trends writer and Arsenal fan
Realistically, winning the Europa League is Arsenal’s best chance of sealing a return to the Champions League for the 2021/22 campaign as a top-four finish seems unlikely.
With that said, Mikel Arteta can’t afford to lose home and away against Spurs in the same campaign.
Judging by the Spaniard’s team selection against Manchester City either side of the Benfica games, it’s possible that he may spring one or two surprises by resting a few of his regulars.
Rob Holding, Pablo Mari, Mohamed Elneny, and Nicolas Pepe were the quartet to benefit against City, but none were in the starting XI against Benfica for the second leg.
But with a good result against Olympiacos in the bag, I would expect Arteta to name the strongest possible team.
Tierney sets tone – Four things spotted in Arsenal training for Tottenham
Arsenal face their biggest game of the season so far: a north London derby against an in-form Tottenham Hotspur team.
Harry Kane is firing, Gareth Bale is finally beginning to look like the Bale of old and Jose Mourinho’s team have won their last three Premier League games with an aggregate score of 9-1.
Spurs have now won their last five games in all competitions, scoring 15 goals and conceding just once. Arsenal, then, have a difficult task ahead of them.
But Mikel Arteta and his team will be confident that they can hurt Spurs in what is a must-win game for their European hopes.
While a top-four finish now seems unlikely, if the Gunners harbour hopes of securing a Europa League place by their league finish, they must keep pace this weekend.
Moreover, Arsenal have not finished above Spurs in the last four seasons.
They could close the gap to four points with a win this weekend. Lose, however, and any chance of beating out their north London rivals down the stretch is effectively over.
As such, Arteta and his players’ preparations for such a big game are vital.
With that in mind, footballsocial.online took a look at what is going on in training. Here are four things we noticed.
Tierney sets the tone
As ever, it was Kieran Tierney who was wearing short sleeves and shorts.
While almost every other player wore sweatshirts, leggings, snoods and gloves, Tierney was glowing in the winter sun with just a t-shirt and shorts.
It has been become customary for the Scottish international to wear very few clothes, even when everyone else in the squad is freezing and this week’s training sessions are no different.
Ahead of what is sure to be a hotly contested fixture, Tierney continues to play the role of Arsenal’s enforcer.
A demanding character on and off the pitch, while his dress sense may not seem like much, it shows his hard-nosed attitude ahead of such a crucial encounter.
No injury concerns
Somewhat unusually for an Arsenal squad that has almost consistently been dealing with a key injury at some stage in the season, at present, Arteta does not have one injury concern to worry about.
In a club statement that is released before every first-team fixture regarding the availability of the players, Arsenal said: “There are no health or injury issues to report following Thursday’s match in Athens against Olympiacos.
“All players in the men’s first-team squad are currently available for selection.”