Three key battles in Tottenham vs Arsenal
Three key battles in Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night
Mertersacker v Kane
The England striker hasn’t yet managed to replicate his scintillating form of last season, so he’ll be looking to kick-start his season with a goal against the Gunners. Harry Kane found the back of the net in the corresponding Premier League fixture at White Hart Lane last season with a brilliant looping header to give Spurs the win. Per Mertesacker turns 31 later this month and word at The Emirates is the big German could soon be headed to pastures new. He has experience by the barrel-load but his legs can’t always do what his mind asks of them. A vibrant, on form Kane should be able to run rings around Mertesacker who has been in and out of Arsenal’s side this season. Kane however seems to be suffering from ‘second-season-syndrome’. Arsene Wenger claimed that his 6ft 6ins defender failed to peak last term due to a World Cup winning hangover, but he has no excuse this season.
Alli v Ramsey
England boss Roy Hodgson was so impressed with Dele Alli’s display in the win over Crystal Palace on Sunday that he is reportedly considering handing the 19-year-old an international call-up. The transition from playing League One football with MK Dons last year to playing in the top-flight with Tottenham has proved smooth for Alli. Wednesday night’s will be a huge test of character for one so young. He will be thrust into a ferocious north London derby which will be an adrenaline fuelled rollercoaster. Not only that he will be face-to-face with one of the Europe’s best central midfielders in Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh star was rested when Arsenal lost in Croatia last week but expect him back to the starting line-up tomorrow and presumably in his preferred role in central midfield. The contest between the two will be compulsive viewing as the battle in the middle of the park could prove decisive in this heated fixture.
Wenger v Pochettino
Arsene Wenger does not often send his side out with strict instructions on how to play. By all accounts he normally just offers words of encouragement and asks his players to express themselves freely and play as they would in the park. Sometimes this produces wonderful displays of free-flowing football and sometimes it ends in a 6-0 pasting at the hands of Chelsea. Pochettino conversely is more of an astute tactician, someone who studies opponents meticulously to find chinks in their armour. This will make for an intriguing contrast when the teams match up against each other tomorrow night. If things are going wrong for Tottenham on the pitch expect their manager to use his substitutions early and tinker with his formation. Wenger meanwhile will sit back and allow the game to play out, making the same changes he has planned before the game. Expect a proactive Pochettino and a reactive Wenger.