Fiery London derby expected to go Spurs’ way


Arsenal club captain Martin Odegaard will be expected to lead from the front. — AFP

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be sweating buckets as his team prepares to face Tottenham Hotspur in what should be a tense North London derby today.

The Gunners, currently sitting atop the league table, are facing some injury issues, and Arteta will be hoping that some of his players can be fit enough to make the bench.

Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson, and Emile Smith-Rowe have already been ruled out of the match due to injury, and the fitness of a few others is being monitored.

The left back spot will be a concern for Arteta as both Kieran Tierney and Oleksandr Zinchenko face a race against time with their respective injury problems.

Tierney returned to the club early with a head injury while away with the Scotland national team and Zinchenko, who missed the 3-0 win over Brentford with a calf issue, was not involved with Ukraine’s Nations League matches.

Another concern for Arteta is Thomas Partey, who was left out of Ghana’s friendly match against Brazil with a knee injury and has returned to the club early as a precaution.

There was a welcome sight for Arteta, as young Norwegian midfield and club captain Martin Odegaard played the full 90 minutes during the 2-0 loss to Serbia in their Nations League group match midweek.

He also played for 71 minutes against Slovenia a few days earlier.

Having been so heavily involved with Norway, it would be a risk to start Odegaard, who had sustained a calf injury just two weeks prior.

Arsenal’s trio of Gabriel Jesus, Magalhaes and Martinelli, who were not called up for international duty in Brazil, will most certainly play.

Jesus, who has been in good form since signing from Man City, has already scored four goals and made three assists in eight league games.

He is expected to lead the attack and will be backed by Martinelli, who has also been playing well, with three league goals to his name and an assist.

Magalhaes, meanwhile, has been the mainstay at the heart of defence for the Gunners alongside William Saliba, helping the team keep three clean sheets.

Joining Jesus and Martinelli in attack should be Bukayo Saka, who has contributed one goal and five assists in Arsenal’s league campaign.

The young Englishman was also instrumental in inspiring England’s fightback against Germany to a 3-3 draw during their Nations League match in midweek.

Tottenham, meanwhile, only have a new injury concern with club captain Hugo Lloris’s injury to his thigh during international duty with France.

This will force Antonio Conte to turn to Fraser Forster, who will make his debut with his new club after signing from Southampton before the start of the season.

The other two players who are out for the long term are Ben Davies and Lucas Moura, but it should not be a major concern for Conte.

Having invested heavily prior to the start of the season, Conte’s team is now capable of taking on any team head on.

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