More than local bragging rights is on the line when Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal clash in what is being billed as the biggest North London derby of the Premier League era.
The Gunners travel to White Hart Lane on Saturday, three points behind their fierce rivals in the title race – with leaders Leicester City holding a further three-point advantage over Spurs.
So where will this NLD of a generation be won and lost? CaughtOffside has picked out four battles which we believe will be key to deciding the outcome, and maybe the destination of the title!
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Harry Kane v Per Mertesacker
Kane has scored on his only two previous appearances against Arsenal in the league, and will be determined to be the Tottenham hero again in front of the fans who absolutely adore him.
Arsenal’s defence looks vulnerable without injured duo Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny, as Sky Sports reports, and Kane may feel that he can get some joy up against the immobile Mertesacker.
Kevin Wimmer v Danny Welbeck
Although they have the best defensive record in the division, Arsenal may also fancy their chances of getting at a Spurs defence which is made weaker by the continued absence of Jan Vertonghen.
Wimmer initially did a solid job deputising for the Belgian, but recent matches against Swansea City and West Ham United have shown that his lack of pace can be exploited. Welbeck has looked sharp since returning for the Gunners and should look to isolate himself against the Austrian whenever possible.
Eric Dier v Mesut Ozil
Ozil takes some stick for sometimes not showing up in the big games, but Arsenal’s title chances would be long gone without his exceptional assist record of 18 this season- two shy of the Premier League record.
The German will not have it easy at the Lane, though. Eric Dier has turned into one of the best holding midfielders in the league, and will be tasked with denying Arsenal’s chief creator of space in the pockets.
Full on full-back warfare
The North London rivals probably have the two best set of full-backs in the Premier League – arguably even three if you count Tottenham’s alternative pair of Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier.
All of Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal can be huge attacking outlets for their team, and whichever set is able to get on the front foot could dictate the flow of the game.
If Walker and Rose are able to get forward as effectively as usual for Spurs, it would pin back their counterparts and deny the opposition of a potent attacking weapon. If Monreal and Bellerin can win the battle, they would starve Tottenham of pace and width, and greatly impact on their pressing game.
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