EPL

Arsenal must keep one of Europe's most 'special' attacks quiet on derby day, says Arteta

By Sports Desk March 12, 2021

Tottenham have one of the most "special" attacking forces in European football, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Spurs travel to face their north London derby rivals in the Premier League's headline fixture on Sunday, with Jose Mourinho's team having a seven-point cushion on the Gunners.

Both teams were in Europa League action on Thursday, Spurs beating Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 while Arsenal overcame Olympiacos 3-1 in Greece.

However, while Arsenal's domestic form remains inconsistent, Mourinho's men are back in the hunt for, at the very least, Europa League qualification after a run of three straight league wins.

While Spurs' defensive approach took them to the top of the table in November before a capitulation in the middle of the campaign, Mourinho seems to have struck a balance once more, which is getting the best out of the attacking talent at his disposal.

Harry Kane has been in sensational form, scoring 16 goals and providing 13 assists in this Premier League campaign to date, while Gareth Bale has also come to the fore in recent weeks, having a hand in six goals in his last four appearances in the competition (four goals, two assists).

The Welshman has also netted five Premier League goals against Arsenal in his career, more than he has scored against any other side in the competition.

Son Heung-min and Kane, meanwhile, have continued their brilliant relationship. In the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace last week, Son teed up Kane's second goal.

It means the duo have set a new single-season Premier League record after combining for a 14th goal in 2020-21, while that win also took Tottenham to 100 goals for the season in all competitions – a mark only previously reached by Bayern Munich across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

Son and Kane combined to cast aside Arsenal 2-0 in the reverse fixture in December, with the latter now the leading goalscorer in north London derby history, with 11 goals.

"[It's going to be] very difficult because the level of quality, precision, understanding and chemistry they have between them makes them probably one of the most special teams in Europe," Arteta told Arsenal's official website.

"They don't need much. They are able to create their own chances, they are able to link as a team. So it's really difficult to do that, but we'll prepare the game well to try to stop them, obviously."

With Spurs looking deadly in front of goal, Arteta stressed the importance of cutting out defensive mistakes which, in the last two matches, have resulted in goals.

Granit Xhaka's blunder against Burnley enabled Chris Wood to snatch a point for the Clarets, with Dani Ceballos taking his tally of errors leading directly to goals in the Europa League to two (no player has made more in that competition this season) when he was dispossessed by Youssef El-Arabi on Thursday.

"The amount of chances we are conceding has been really low, but the amount of chances we have given to opponents has had a big impact in the goals that we have conceded," said Arteta.

"It depends on us a bit which is a really positive thing. But we know that it's something we need to eradicate to be more consistent with results."

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