Mikel Arteta is set to finally lock horns with Antonio Conte, thus marking the third different Tottenham Hotspur manager he will come up against since returning to Arsenal in December 2019.
The Spaniard is no stranger to the North London Derby as a player as well as a coach. In his role as the latter, he faced Jose Mourinho three times and Nuno Espirito Santo once, winning on two occasions - both at the Emirates Stadium - and losing the others away from home.
For Thursday night's North London Derby - which was initially scheduled to take place in January but was postponed after Arsenal's request was granted - in the opposite dugout to Arteta at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be Conte, and the stakes could not be higher.
A win for the Gunners will see them qualify for next season's Champions League, but they are facing a Spurs side that have beaten Manchester City and avoided defeat against Liverpool under Conte since he was appointed as Santo's replacement all the way back in November.
However, despite being a serial winner and one of the best coaches in the game today, Arsenal fans may not need to worry about the Conte effect, as history shows the Tottenham boss often struggles for results when facing the red half of north London. As pointed out by football.london, during his two-season stint at Stamford Bridge, he faced the Gunners on eight occasions across all competitions - including once in the Community Shield. And he mustered just one victory in the process. The most notable defeat came in September 2016 when first-half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil did all the damage and convinced Conte to switch to his favoured back-three formation.
Whilst the Italian gained a measure of revenge in the reverse fixture, not to mention the loss at the Emirates Stadium ultimately turning Chelsea's season around as they clinched the Premier League title that season, that was as good as it got for Conte against Arsenal. Although, given the rivalry between his new club and the Gunners, it's almost certain that Spurs fans will demand the 52-year-old improves on this particular record.
As this will be the first time Arteta and Conte lock horns, if the Arsenal manager needs any tips on how to win his upcoming battle with Conte, he needn't look much further than Arsene Wenger's blueprint, as the Frenchman was in charge for all of those eight meetings against the Italian and he clearly learned a valuable lesson from his one and only defeat when going head-to-head with the then-Chelsea boss.
After losing at Stamford Bridge in February 2017, Wenger didn't have to wait too long for a chance to settle the score as the London rivals met in that season's FA Cup final, with the Gunners winning 2-1. What was noticeable about Arsenal at Wembley Stadium that afternoon was their formation as Wenger had mirrored Conte's back three system towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign, and used it against the Italian in the final and reaped the rewards.
So much so, that he stuck with it for the next four encounters between the two sides and that yielded a penalty shootout win in the Community Shield, two goalless draws at Stamford Bridge, and an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium. Interestingly, for his final meeting with Conte, Wenger reverted back to a 4-3-3 and was still able to get the win that booked Arsenal's place in the 2018 Carabao Cup final.
What Wenger proved in five of those meetings against Conte was that matching the tactician's system was key to getting a positive result - especially away from home as the Gunners didn't concede a single goal in two trips to Stamford Bridge using a back three. So in order for Arteta to end his run of defeats in away games against Spurs to ensure bragging rights return to N5 come Thursday night, it could be worth borrowing a page from Wenger's blueprint.
Matching up to Conte's back three system could already be in the Spaniard's thinking and with the latest North London Derby of huge importance in the top-four race, Arteta will be well aware that if the Italian doesn't improve on his record against Arsenal on Thursday night then his side will have reason to celebrate.