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Arsenal line-ups vs Tottenham as Saka starts, Zinchenko and Odegaard recalled, Saliba risked

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It’s round two between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur this weekend as the north London rivals lock horns in a fixture that will have major implications at the top of the Premier League table.

Whilst this particular game won’t be as decisive as the corresponding fixture last season where a 3-0 victory for the home side ultimately proved costly for the Gunners in the top-four race, Mikel Arteta’s side can do their chances of being crowned champions in May no harm with a positive result.

And the good news for the Arsenal manager heading into Sunday’s game is that he has no fresh injury concerns to deal with and confirmed during the pre-match press conference that he expects Bukayo Saka to be available after the winger limped off during the 3-0 win over Oxford United on Monday night.

READ MORE: Every word Mikel Arteta said on Mudryk transfer, FA charges, Jesus and Tottenham vs Arsenal

Another player in contention to start – albeit unlikely – is Emile Smith Rowe. The 22-year-old made his return to action in the aforementioned FA Cup third-round tie as a second half substitute after four months on the sidelines and can be alternative option outside or as a central midfielder

With Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson ruled out through injury, there’s not much in the way of team selection dilemmas for Arteta. However, considering Saka and William Saliba are one yellow card each away from missing next weekend’s game against Manchester United, could the double suspension risk cause the Gunners boss to rethink his line-up?

Well, football.london’s Arsenal writers Kaya Kaynak, Tom Canton and Tashan Deniran-Alleyne are on hand to offer their assistance to the Spanish tactician. Below, they name their respective starting line-ups for the visitors in the North London Derby against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.

Kaya Kaynak – Chief Arsenal Writer

It’s the North London Derby so of course I would look to go as strong as possible on Sunday. Title challenge or not this is a game where Arsenal have to get a result.

That means Aaron Ramsdale comes back in for Matt Turner even though the American put in another solid if unspectacular display against Oxford. Ben White is also back in for Takehiro Tomiyasu, while William Saliba would replace Rob Holding.

Gabriel would be the only surviving member of the back four for me which means that Alex Zinchenko comes back in. Kieran Tierney was good on Monday I thought, but Arsenal need to control this game if they’re to claim a first away victory over Spurs in nearly a decade, and Zinchenko is their best bet at doing that.

In midfield, the trio of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard are all obvious picks after varying levels of rest at Oxford. I’d expect Fabio Vieira to have more of an impact off the bench if needed this time around though after he was snubbed when Arsenal were chasing a goal against Newcastle.

Up front, there’s no need to change the front three of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli particularly given that the former is fit. Keep an eye out for Emile Smith Rowe coming off the bench though. What a comeback story it would be if he were to return and play a key role in this North London Derby after such a long time out.

Kaynak’s Arsenal XI vs Tottenham: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli

Tom Canton – Arsenal Writer

Never have Arsenal been more confident going into this specific fixture since perhaps the last time they won the game in 2014. Tomas Rosicky’s sole goal was enough to win the game back then but since Harry Kane and Spurs have found a way to deny the Gunners three points.

The team Mikel Arteta however should go for is once again an easy decision to make. Until the Gunners buy in some competitive talent in midfield and the forward line, it is difficult to see much change to the team.

This, for me, is the game in which Eddie Nketiah has the opportunity to truly elevate his status in the Arsenal team. He’s scored goals but many would say the jury is still out on the forward, a top display here could help him get many more on side.

Lastly, Oleksandr Zinchenko’s presence in the derby in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium was brilliant. Mikel Arteta having access to the Ukrainian plus William Saliba, Ben White and Thomas Partey is quite the step up from just under a year ago.

Canton’s Arsenal XI vs Tottenham: Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah

Tashan Deniran-Alleyne – Arsenal Writer

For me, Mikel Arteta is in a good position heading into the North London Derby as will be able to name the strongest team available to him at the moment and it’s almost identical to the one he put out for the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium all the way back in October.

Of course, the one change from that afternoon will be Eddie Nketiah in for the injured Gabriel Jesus. Now, whilst the Hale End graduate has done a fine job since coming into the starting line-up post-World Cup break, this will certainly be his biggest challenge yet and it’s important he leads the line well.

Elsewhere the team picks itself. Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, William Saliba, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka were either fully or partially rested for Monday’s FA Cup win so I would be surprised if all seven aren’t handed an immediate recall.

In an ideal world, Arsenal would have completed the signing of Mykhaylo Mudryk and he would have been registered in time to be in contention for a debut against Spurs. Alas, this hasn’t been the case but the return to fitness of Emile Smith Rowe means the substitutes bench should look a lot stronger than…

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