Mikel Arteta explains Arsenal team selection as two key players return from inju

Mikel Arteta his hopeful his decision to select a full-strength Arsenal side won’t backfire in Saturday’s crucial north London derby.

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The Gunners were sweating on the availability of captain Martin Odegaard, midfield linchpin Thomas Partey and summer signing Oleksandr Zinchenko.

All three, however, were named in the starting XI for the visit of Spurs who themselves have top spot in their sights.

Explaining his team selection, Arteta told BT Sport: ‘We had so much uncertainty in the last few weeks with certain players.

‘We had some internationals where we had bad news but we have managed to recover some players and hopefully they are in the best condition to play.’

Arsenal were caught cold when the teams last met at the end of last season in a game which effectively cost his side Champions League qualification and allowed Spurs to sneak into fourth place.

Antonio Conte’s front three of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Richarlison represent a fearsome triumvirate and although Arteta will guard against his side being exposed on the break he stressed it was important for his side to strike the right balance.

He added: ‘It is (a worry) and obviously it’s something we have to prepare for and train and you have to try to avoid them.

‘The moment you allow them to run into opponent’s space they are a really dangerous team, we know that. They do it in very different ways and some of them are difficult to control.

‘At the end of the day you cannot allow players to play with the handbrake and not express themselves with in the back of their mind the fear to lose the ball and concede the space.

‘It has to be the right balance.’

More to follow…

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