Odegaard dropped, Mari returns – Arsenal lineups Mikel Arteta should pick vs Tottenham

It is one of the biggest games of the season for Arsenal supporters.

The North London Derby takes place at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the Gunners looking for revenge from the 2-0 defeat to Spurs in the reverse fixture at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this season.

Arsenal have three wins and a draw in their last four games in all competitions but go into the clash with their fierce rivals hanging onto a place in the top ten in the Premier League table.

Spurs are three places and seven points ahead of them in the table and defeat to the Lilywhites would all but condemn them to finishing below Spurs again this season.

With that in mind, who will take their place in Mikel Arteta ‘s team on Sunday afternoon?

We asked our reporters to pick their teams for the clash.

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Kaya Kaynak – Arsenal writer

With the Europa League tie against Olympiacos more or less sewn up now, Mikel Arteta can consider the idea of putting out as strong a side as possible to ensure long-awaited local bragging rights for Arsenal supporters this weekend.

This means picking Bernd Leno in goal despite the German’s continued mistakes when playing out from the back in recent matches.

I wouldn’t look to change the back four too much for the game although David Luiz’s shakiness playing out from the back against Olympiacos would have me going for Rob Holding instead.

Thomas Partey was withdrawn after just 55 minutes in Athens so I would start him alongside Granit Xhaka in midfield if fit.

Bukayo Saka would obviously start on the right and despite his goalscoring turn in midweek I would drop Martin Odegaard to give Emile Smith Rowe his first start in a North London Derby at senior level.

In a game where Arsenal are going to play against a deep-lying defence having Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front doesn’t make too much sense so I would shift him out to the left, with Alexandre Lacazette – who has a terrific record in games against Spurs – through the middle to occupy Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez.

Kaynak’s team: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang; Lacazette.

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Tashan Deniran-Alleyne – Trends writer and Arsenal fan

Realistically, winning the Europa League is Arsenal’s best chance of sealing a return to the Champions League for the 2021/22 campaign as a top-four finish seems unlikely.

With that said, Mikel Arteta can’t afford to lose home and away against Spurs in the same campaign.

Judging by the Spaniard’s team selection against Manchester City either side of the Benfica games, it’s possible that he may spring one or two surprises by resting a few of his regulars.

Rob Holding, Pablo Mari, Mohamed Elneny, and Nicolas Pepe were the quartet to benefit against City, but none were in the starting XI against Benfica for the second leg.

But with a good result against Olympiacos in the bag, I would expect Arteta to name the strongest possible team.

Mari seems to be the preferred option at centre-back for Premier League games, while Cedric Soares has looked impressive of late whether at right or left-back.

The big decisions facing Arteta are in attack as Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe are pushing for recalls, but only one, I feel, will come back into the side.

Deniran-Alleyne’s team: Leno; Cedric, Luiz, Mari, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Willian; Aubameyang.

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