Arsenal face double suspension risk for Spurs trip as two players walk tightrope

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Arsenal face double suspension risk for Spurs trip as two players walk tightrope
Arsenal face double suspension risk for Spurs trip as two players walk tightrope

Mikel Arteta has decisions to make on Bukayo Saka and William Saliba, with the Arsenal pair one booking away from missing the North London Derby.

The Gunners are due to take on their neighbours on January 15, where Arteta's men will aim to complete a league double after claiming victory at Emirates Stadium in October. Before then, though, there is the small matter of a meeting with high-flying Newcastle.

Saka and Saliba are on four yellow cards each in the league this season, with the former picking up his latest booking in Saturday's win at Brighton. Another caution for either player against the Magpies would see them suspended for the derby, so Arteta will need to decide whether to start them on Tuesday evening.

Saliba, who has established himself as a starting centre-back for Arsenal this season, picked up his fourth booking against Leeds in mid-October and has stayed out of trouble since. Saka, who scored the opener at the Amex Stadium, only had one league yellow when Saliba was booked for the fourth time.

The cut-off point for suspensions for five yellow cards is the halfway point of the season - in other words, after 19 games. Arsenal have played 16 so far, meaning either of the players on four yellow cards will miss the home meeting with Manchester United if booked against Spurs.

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Saka and Saliba are the only Arsenal players on four yellows, with Gabriel and Ben White on three. Spurs, meanwhile, have Harry Kane walking the tightrope with a game against Crystal Palace to come before the North London Derby.

Should Arsenal rest Bukayo Saka or William Saliba? Have your say in the comments section!

Arsenal face double suspension risk for Spurs trip as two players walk tightropeWilliam Saliba and Bukayo Saka are both one game away from a ban (AFP via Getty Images)

Saliba was brought straight back into the fold by Arteta after reaching the World Cup final with France. He had a nervy return, though, conceding a penalty in the Boxing Day victory over West Ham.

If Arteta opts to rest the former Marseille loanee, he may want to bring in Rob Holding, while another option would be to move Ben White inside and start Takehiro Tomiyasu at right-back. Further forward, Fabio Vieira could be an option to step in if the manager decides to wrap Saka in cotton wool before the derby.

"My excitement comes from going into the dressing room when the players are talking about what they should have done better today," Arteta said after the Brighton game. "That means that they know that we can still player better and be better and against Newcastle we have to be better.

"We knew the result [Manchester City's draw with Everton before Arsenal's victory] but the boost is we have to come here and win and to do that we have to perform at the highest level in the league. It means nothing because our only focus is again is to improve."

Tom Victor

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