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Mikel Arteta has glaring defensive dilemma ahead of Arsenal’s pivotal Spurs showdown


Mikel Arteta has quite the selection headache when it comes to Arsenal’s back-line for the highly anticipated North London Derby against Tottenham on Thursday night.

The full-back position on either side has emerged as something of a problem area for the Gunners boss as Arsenal approach the season’s final furlong with Champions League football still on the line. Four points currently separate the North London neighbours, with Arsenal in the much coveted fourth spot.

First-choice left-back Kieran Tierney is ruled out for the remainder of the season and has been since early April, presenting his deputy Nuno Tavares with the chance to make the spot his own.

Instead, the young Portuguese defender has continued his turbulent start to his Gunners career. While Tavares has plenty of positive attributes in an attacking-sense, he is undeniably shaky when it comes to the defensive side of the game.

Many fans and pundits alike have suggested Tavares’ tendency to make at least one glaring error per game means it is far too much of a risk to play him in Arsenal’s final three fixtures of the season. It would appear, if the most recent outing is anything to go by, that Arteta agrees.

Summer signing Takehiro Tomiyasu has been nothing short of a revelation after his arrival from Bologna, but has had his injury issues during his debut campaign. The right-back has only recently returned from a lengthy lay-off, but was deployed as a left-back for the visit of Leeds at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

It could be perceived as a damning indictment of the lack of trust Arteta has in Tavares that he would sooner play a right-back on the opposite flank than actually use the young left-back in his preferred position. With that being said, there is yet another alternative that still does not spark much optimism among the Arsenal faithful.



Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu could be deployed as a left-back against Spurs
Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu could be deployed as a left-back against Spurs

HAVE YOUR SAY! Who should Arteta select as his full-back’s for the trip to Tottenham? Comment below

Cedric Soares has been, for the most part, reliable when tasked with deputising for Tomiyasu, but recent outings have seen him seriously struggle against the likes of Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha. With Spurs’ boasting Heung-Min Son within their front-line, Arteta has plenty to think about when it comes to trying to nulify the South Korean international.

While Arteta will undoubtedly take into consideration the fact that Tomiyasu did quite the job on Son the last time these sides met, playing the Japan international in his preferred role at right-back would still present a problem at left-back. If using Tavares there is out of the question, the next obvious candidate is Tomiyasu.

Cedric’s recent woes may deter the Gunners boss from placing him up against one of Tottenham’s most potent threats, meaning yet another player could be forced to play out of their preferred position.

Benjamin White has previously been deployed as a right-back both for Arsenal and for former side Brighton last season. The England international has missed the last two league games but Arteta remains hopeful he will be passed fit in time to feature in the derby.

“Ben White is still in contention so he needs to train tomorrow to make sure that he’s available to play,” the Spaniard told the media. There is every chance White is selected as a full-back as part of a back four that transitions in a back three out of possession.

Which of these many options Arteta opts for could potentially determine whether Arsenal play Champions League football next season. It is the kind of decision expected of a man recently handed a lengthy contract extension and given backing by the club’s hierarchy.





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