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Tottenham vs Arsenal: Three key battles that will decide crunch north London derby showdown

By Dan Kilpatrick

Tottenham and Arsenal lock horns tonight in what is being correctly billed as the biggest north London derby for years.

The captivating battle for Champions League qualification between the two fierce rivals could be decided in a mammoth clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Arsenal head into the game sitting fourth after a resurgent run of four straight victories, with a four-point buffer to Spurs in fifth.

Mikel Arteta’s side will know that a famous win on enemy territory would rubber-stamp their return to Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since 2016-17, while victory for Antonio Conte’s Tottenham would blow the race wide open once more with only two matches left to play this season.

Here, Standard Sport’s chief football correspondent Dan Kilpatrick looks at three key battles that could decide tonight’s huge showdown...

Elneny vs Kane

Can Mohamed Elneny shackle the threat of Harry Kane in tonight’s north London derby? (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Mohamed Elneny has emerged as an unlikely star of Arsenal's Champions League push, and he and Granit Xhaka will have the considerable challenge of trying to stop Harry Kane tonight. The England captain is the laundpad for Spurs' quick breaks, dropping into the No10 space and usually looking for Heung-min Son.

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho did a good job of smothering Kane at Anfield on Saturday but he still made Spurs' goal, demonstrating that he is hard to keep down indefinitely.

Saka vs Emerson

If Arteta matches Conte's 3-4-3 system, Arsenal talisman Bukayo Saka could line-up at left wing-back, where he would face off against Emerson Royal. The Brazilian was long perceived to be a weak link in Conte's side but he rose to the occasion against Liverpool on Saturday and was voted man of the match by Spurs fans. Saka's directness and creativity are among Arsenal's biggest strengths, so Emerson potentially faces another huge test tonight.

Nketiah vs Romero

Eddie Nketiah is likely to find Tottenham's back three less accommodating than Leeds’ defence at the weekend, and he will face a tough examination against Cristian Romero, who is sure to try and rough up the young forward. This is a night for cool heads, though, and Romero's natural aggression could prove both a strength and a weakness.

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Dive Deeper:
Tottenham vs Arsenal: North London Derby provides epic showdown for Champions League football
An Arsenal win secures Champions League football, but a Spurs victory blows the race back wide open - our experts…
Tottenham vs Arsenal: Huge north London derby showdown could define the future for both rivals
There is something in Antonio Conte's suggestion that, for Tottenham and Arsenal, finishing fourth would be equivalent to winning the…
The biggest north London derby in a decade will decide Arsenal and Tottenham’s future
Arsenal and Tottenham meet tonight in a golden opportunity to settle the top-four race and strike a blow to their…
Tottenham vs Arsenal predictions: Expert view, analysis and key questions answered ahead of north London derby
Tottenham and Arsenal meet tonight in the biggest north London derby for years.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Mikel Arteta has three Arsenal players to win key battles in North London Derby vs Tottenham
Arsenal can ensure a North London Derby victory by beating Conte's side in three key areas
Tottenham vs Arsenal: Cristian Romero ruled out of crucial north London derby
Cristian Romero has been ruled out of Tottenham’s crunch meeting with Arsenal in a huge blow for the home side.
Get all your news in one place