The North London Derby never fails to bring excitement in north London and Thursday’s clash will be no different. Both Tottenham and Arsenal are battling for a spot inside the top four and this fixture is crucial in both side’s chances of securing Champions League football for next season.
Antonio Conte needs his Spurs side to secure a win against Arsenal, to take them just one point behind Mikel Arteta’s side, going into the final two games of the season. If the Gunners are able to find a victory in N17, they will secure a spot inside the top four.
In the reverse tie, it was Arsenal who came out on top with a 3-1 win. Tottenham produced a lacklustre performance which had no fight and energy involved, which needs to change on home turf.
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In Conte’s pre match press conference he revealed that Spurs had no new injuries, going into the derby. “The situation is the same as the last game and the game before Liverpool,” the Italian explained. “[Sergio] Reguilon is not available and I don’t think he can recover. There’s only 10 days to go. We are with the same players that faced Liverpool.”
This means the Lilywhites will be without Reguilon, Oliver Skipp, Matt Doherty and Japhet Tanganga, but will have the rest of the squad available to them. Ahead of Thursday’s fixture, football.london takes a look at how Conte could line up his Tottenham side.
Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Royal, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Sessegnon; Kulusevski, Kane, Son
With no fresh injuries and his starting XI producing a solid performance at Anfield last week to secure them a point against the title contenders, Conte is likely to stick with the same line up. The performance wasn’t perfect and Spurs could’ve done with a win against Jurgen Klopp’s side, but they picked up an unexpected point when they travelled to Merseyside and there were a lot of positives to take from the last match.
Tottenham’s back three produced a number of crunching tackles and dealt with most of what was thrown at them, from the dangerous attacking trio of their opponents. Emerson Royal and Ryan Sessegnon also improved on their recent form.
The wing-back duo have both produced mixed performances this season but with their competitors injured, Conte is relying on them to make an impact down the flanks. Both still made some mistakes at Anfield, but it was an improved performance compared to what had been previously displayed, which provides a boost going into Thursday.
The midfield duo of Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur is also unlikely to change, with Skipp ruled out for the rest of the season and Harry Winks not getting many opportunities to prove himself recently. The mixture of composure and passion in the centre of midfield will be needed to come out on top in battles against Arsenal’s men.
Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Royal, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Sessegnon; Moura, Kane, Son
Although it is highly unlikely, if Conte were to make a change to the 11 players that started against Liverpool, he may revert back to the line-up that started the game against Leicester. Tottenham beat Brendan Rodgers’ side 3-1 and it was Dejan Kulusevski who made way for Lucas Moura in that match.
In the fixture, the Brazilian didn’t make the impact that was expected of him, in a big chance for him to try and prove why he should be in the team ahead of the Swede. This meant Conte reintroduced the 22-year-old in the 55th minute, where Kulusevski picked up two assists, for Son Heung-min’s second half brace.
It is even more unlikely for the Italian to start the game with Moura again, as the Swedish international performed well at Anfield, alongside the South Korean and Harry Kane. Tottenham’s attacking trio are going to play a pivotal role on Thursday, as Conte will be relying on them to cause danger to Arsenal in the final third.
It seems likely that the 52-year-old will stick to the starting XI that he gave the nod to against Liverpool, but whoever starts the game in N17 needs to be ready for a tough battle for three points. The likes of Moura and Steven Bergwijn will need to be ready to come on if needed, as Conte will be doing everything he can to help his Spurs side have the best possible chance of securing three points, in arguably Tottenham’s biggest game of the season.