Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has a few selection dilemmas heading into the North London derby this weekend.
There are fitness doubts over a number of key players and the Gunners boss may have to take a few risks on injuries for what is one of the most important games of the season so far.
Tottenham are in good form, although the one-sided nature of the scoreline in the 6-2 win versus Leicester last time out didn’t really reflect how close the game was for long periods. Arteta’s men will be hoping to exploit any potential defensive vulnerabilities.
GK – Aaron Ramsdale
It was a surprise that Ramsdale didn’t play any minutes for England whilst away on international duty, particularly with Jordan Pickford injured, but he should be fresh for the derby.
Ramsdale will need to be quick off his line if Tottenham do try to break the Gunners’ high line on the counter-attack. He could be of vital importance for Arsenal to implement their game plan.
RB – Ben White
Takehiro Tomiyasu appears to be managing an injury. He was sent home from international duty early and he wasn’t seen in first-team training on Wednesday, which suggests he won’t be fit to start this weekend.
Considering White has been excellent in recent games, any lingering concerns about the centre-back playing out of position have now been put to bed.
CB – William Saliba
The 21-year-old’s confidence may have been knocked slightly after he was subbed off at half-time during France’s 2-0 defeat to Denmark on Sunday.
However, after settling so well into Arsenal’s starting lineup at the start of the season, it’s hard to see Saliba suddenly dropping his levels.
CB – Gabriel
It will be hoped that Brazil’s decision not to call him up during the recent international break will spur the 24-year-old on to prove his national team manager wrong.
Gabriel has been reliable, for the most part, this campaign but he will have a big job on his hands to keep Harry Kane quiet on Saturday.
LB – Kieran Tierney
The fullback did pick up a head injury playing for Scotland against the Republic of Ireland last Saturday so we shall have to wait and see whether he is in concussion protocol.
Even if Tierney is, though, the enforced period of absence is only six days, so there is still a good chance he will be available for the derby.
CM – Thomas Partey
This seems to be a 50/50 call at the moment. The midfielder has a knee problem which he felt in the warm-up before Ghana’s friendly against Brazil last Friday.
It is believed to be a minor issue so the decision may be down to whether Arteta wants to risk Partey against Tottenham. Considering it is such a big game, the odds are good that the 29-year-old will start.
CM – Granit Xhaka
The Swiss international is in the form of his life at the moment, and he will be looking to make a big impact against Spurs.
Antonio Conte’s side have looked vulnerable in-between their wingbacks and centre-halves, so Xhaka could exploit the space, with the Gunners likely to generate overloads in possession on the left-hand side with Tierney acting as an inverted fullback.
AM – Martin Odegaard
After missing the win over Brentford due to a calf injury, the 23-year-old played both of Norway’s games during the international break so he is fit and available.
Fabio Vieira performed well in Odegaard’s absence, but the Portuguese midfielder is likely to make way for the club captain this weekend.
RW – Bukayo Saka
The winger came on against Germany to help inspire England’s comeback on Monday, and he looked a lot more of a threat playing in his natural position on the right flank, rather than at left wingback.
Saka could be a key attacking outlet against Tottenham, as he will be going up against the likes of Ryan Sessegnon and Clement Lenglet, who struggled defensively against Leicester.
CF – Gabriel Jesus
The Brazilian forward is in superb form, and you would back him to cause Spurs’s backline all sorts of problems on Saturday, with his relentless pressing and forward runs.
Jesus is, though, one yellow card away from a suspension, so whether that will curtail his aggression off the ball, we shall have to wait and see.
LW – Gabriel Martinelli
You would back the 21-year-old to have the beating of Emerson Royal. The Tottenham wingback lacks the pace and defensive know-how to deal with the Gunners’ forward.
A lot may depend on Martinelli’s decision-making if and when he does get the better of Emerson, though. His lack of experience means he doesn’t always make the right calls in possession but he will be a big threat.