Arsenal vs Tottenham: Saka vs Udogie & Other Key Battles To Watch Out For

The headline fixture of the weekend sees Arsenal welcome arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in the 2023/24 season’s first instalment of the North London derby.

Both Arsenal and Tottenham are unbeaten in the Premier League so far this season, winning four games and drawing one. The Gunners edged Everton 1-0 away in their last league outing before making a great comeback to the Champions League after a six-year absence with a 4-0 rout of PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Spurs will enter the clash off the back of a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over newcomers Sheffield United.

The North London derby is a fixture that has perennially been fierce and heated, and both teams will strive to bag all three points at any cost. On that note, here are the key battles that could define the outcome of the action-packed encounter at the Emirates.

#Martin Odegaard vs Yves Bissouma

Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard is widely hailed as one of the best creative midfielders in the Premier League. With his game intelligence, vision, movement and incisive passing, he can unlock even the most well-drilled defences. The Norwegian midfielder continued his fine start to the season with a goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 thrashing of PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League group-stage opener in midweek.

Odegaard will be a key player for Spurs to keep tabs on and limit the influence of if they are to keep Arsenal at bay, with Yves Bissouma perhaps best positioned and equipped to combat his threat on the day. Bissouma looks a player reborn under new manager Ange Postecoglou, considerably sharper and hungrier. The 27-year-old has started in all of Spurs’ five league games, helping the team to a fantastic start.

The Mali international is a combative presence who offers a layer of protection in front of the Spurs defence, and he will be tasked with keeping a close watch on the Arsenal skipper looking to create things in the final third for the hosts.

#Son Heung-min vs William Saliba

A seasoned campaigner against one of the division’s best central defenders- the clash between Son Heung-min and William Saliba could be a thing of beauty.

Naturally a wide player, Son being shifted from left wing to centrally as a No.9 against Burnley paid rich dividends for Postecoglou as he scored a hat-trick in the 5-2 win. The South Korean lead the line against Sheffield United last time out and is expected to do the same for Spurs in the north London derby.

Standing in Son’s way at the weekend will be Saliba. The Frenchman has enjoyed a solid start to the season, and having helped Arsenal keep a clean sheet in the big win over PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, he will enter the derby with high confidence levels.

Saliba has to be at his best to keep Son at bay, and if he succeeds in doing so, Arsenal’s chances of beating Spurs will go a notch higher.

Bukayo Saka vs Destiny Udogie

Rated as one of the Premier League’s best players, Bukayo Saka wasted little time in getting off the mark in the Champions League in his debut game on Wednesday, terrorising the PSV backline with his pace, unpredictable movement and dribbling. The youngster is in flying form at the moment and will be unstoppable if he gets in the groove on Sunday.

Usually deployed off the right, Saka could find himself directly up against Spurs’ Destiny Udogie. After impressing Postecoglou in pre-season, Udogie has made the most of his chance to become an ever-present in the Spurs defence so far. He is fast, agile, energetic, attack-minded and will try to pin Saka back as much as possible.

However, considering Saka’s class and the form he is in, Udogie could have his work cut out to contain the Arsenal star.

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