Just a couple of weeks ago, Tottenham were top of the Premier League, with Arsenal bottom. But things change quickly in football and the momentum has shifted quickly ahead of the first North London Derby of the 2021-22 season being played at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

Spurs have now lost back-to-back games 3-0, while successive 1-0 victories – albeit against moderate opponents in Norwich City and Burnley – has sent Arsenal surging up the table. But form often goes out of the window when it comes to derby day, with Nuno Espirito Santo set for his first taste of this club clash. Here are six players with key roles to play on Sunday.


6 key players in the North London Derby


Harry Kane

Kane is the obvious place to start. His 12 goals in this fixture is more than any other player in the history of the North London Derby but the England captain has yet to catch fire this season.

Having failed to force through a summer move to Manchester City, Kane has yet to find the net in four league appearances. He does not look like the striker who has won three Golden Boots.

With a new manager in place and Kane having missed pre-season, there was always going to be a tricky period of adaptation. But Spurs need more from their prime asset and derby day is the ideal opportunity for Kane to recapture his form – and show why City wanted to buy him.


Thomas Partey

Arsenal’s slow start was partly due to the absence of Partey, with his return to the midfield coinciding with a more solid feel about the Gunners.

The Ghana midfielder is positionally very intelligent and his patrols in front of the back four allow Arsenal to fit in more exciting, creative players in their attack.

Partey was expected to take Arsenal to a new level when he arrived in a much-hyped move from Atletico Madrid. Arsenal are yet to see the best of him, though, with a star role in a derby win perhaps the spark he needs at his new club.


Japhet Tanganga

Tanganga was the surprise Spurs star in the early weeks of the season. But he then lost his cool against Crystal Palace, with his red card proving costly in a 3-0 defeat for Nuno’s side.

The youngster sat out the loss to Chelsea as a result of his suspension but with six goals shipped in two games, the Portuguese boss will surely recall him to a suddenly leaky back line. What better place to make up for that red card than in the North London Derby?


Takehiro Tomiyasu

Arsenal had the highest net spend in the Premier League over the summer but plenty of eyebrows were raised at decisions such as paying a whopping £50 million for Ben White.The early performances of new right-back Tomiyasu – a £17 million purchase from Serie A side Bologna – indicate that a problem position for Mikel Arteta might have been solved at long last.

Tomiyasu did not put a foot wrong at Burnley last weekend, with the Japan international winning all of his duels and making five clearances and a further five recoveries, according to Squawka.

Spurs will presumably be a step up in class compared to the struggling Clarets, however.


Dele Alli

Nuno has brought Dele in from the cold, but the midfielder is yet to justify his return to the Spurs side. The 25-year-old hit the winner against Wolves, but his performances since have been flat.

Dele scored in the final North London Derby to be played at White Hart Lane, so he does have a history of success in this game. Sunday would be the perfect time for him to find the net again.


Aaron Ramsdale

Yet to concede a goal in two league appearances for his new club, Ramsdale has benefited from Arsenal having a couple of games against poor teams, with little for him to do in those matches.

The former Bournemouth and Sheffield United goalkeeper was a surprise signing to compete with Bernd Leno for the Gunners gloves but, with Arteta already opting to select the Englishman, Ramsdale could be Arsenal’s long-term stopper if he grasps this chance with both hands.

The North London Derby is a pressure cooker, however, with Ramsdale needing to show he can handle it. He was arguably a little lucky that VAR came to his rescue last weekend after he challenged Matej Vydra and gave away a penalty, but Ramsdale has made a solid start.



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