Four players to watch in Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur

Just when the new Premier League season was starting to get exciting, it’s ground to a halt for an international break. That means we have to twiddle our thumbs for a couple of weeks as we wait for the top flight of English football to return, but there is plenty to look forward to when it kicks back off again — particularly Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on September 24.

Both of the North London sides have started the season well, with identical records of three wins, one draw and no defeats in their first four games. This is the perfect opportunity for either the Gunners or Spurs to make a big statement of intent and Ange Postecoglou’s stock will only rise further if he can guide Tottenham to their first win against their rivals here since 2018.

Mikel Arteta’s side are the big favourites in the Arsenal Spurs betting odds. But this a derby, and anything could happen when tensions reach boiling point on September 24. That said, let’s take a look at four players — two from each side — who could make a difference at the Emirates.

Bukayo Saka

Kicking things off with a member of the home side, Bukayo Saka has carried the fine form from his career-best campaign last year — when he scored 14 goals and assisted 11 in 38 Premier League appearances — into the early stages of this season.

The 22-year-old scored a stunning strike against Nottingham Forest as Arsenal won their opening game 2-1 at the Emirates and he was on the scoresheet again against Fulham, this time converting from the penalty spot. Saka also assisted Declan Rice’s goal six minutes into injury time in the 3-1 win over Manchester United.

Saka has one goal and two assists against Spurs, but has never lost to them at the Emirates and will play a big role in trying to ensure that run continues here.

Son Heung-min

By his usual exceptionally high standards, Son Heung-min fell below the bar of expectation in his performances for Spurs last season. There were concerns going into this season whether or not he could discover his best form, which would be crucial considering Harry Kane departed for Bayern Munich.

Another slow start to the campaign would have had Tottenham fans worried about whether their star winger’s powers are dwindling now he’s 31. However, he scored a fantastic hat-trick against strugglers Burnley before the international break and hopefully he can pick up where he left off when the Premier League resumes.

Son has historically been a tricky player for Arsenal, with five goals and five assists in 18 renewals of the North London Derby.

Declan Rice

A player we touched on earlier when talking about Saka, Rice was Arsenal’s marquee signing this summer as the Gunners splashed an eye-watering club-record fee of £105 million to bring the 24-year-old across London to the Emirates from West Ham United — making him the third most expensive player in Premier League history.

He is justifying the price tag and repaying Arteta’s faith thus far, however, winning 80% of his tackles while making six interceptions, four clearances and 23 recoveries in four appearances — and, of course, scoring that aforementioned goal in the dramatic finish against Manchester United.

Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr have received plaudits for their performances in midfield for Spurs this season, but Rice’s presence could mean Arsenal win this battle.

James Maddison

Despite Leicester City’s struggles last season, as the Foxes suffered relegation from the Premier League, James Maddison still managed to have a decent campaign on an individual level — scoring 10 goals and providing nine assists (the most he has produced thus far in a single season) in 30 top-flight games.

The 26-year-old has hit the ground running since joining Spurs for £40m this summer, assisting twice on his Premier League debut against Brentford before scoring in back-to-back games against Bournemouth and Burnley before the break.

Maddison has two goals and two assists in nine previous outings against Arsenal, and after his fine start to the season, he will be confident he can add to that tally.