Ange Postecoglou has perfect Tottenham player to exploit Mikel Arteta's Arsenal weakness

Brennan Johnson could prove to be a pivotal figure as Tottenham look to earn the North London Derby bragging rights on Sunday afternoon. Amid an up-and-down start to his Spurs career following his big-money switch from Nottingham Forest, the Wales international has really kicked on in 2024 and started to replicate the form he displayed on a regular basis at the City Ground.

Ending 2023 with assists in the home wins over Everton and Bournemouth, Johnson's numbers have improved this year and he has become a key cog in Ange Postecoglou's Tottenham XI. Scoring vital goals against Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion, the 22-year-old followed those strikes up with further goals in away games at Aston Villa and West Ham.

Two of his most important contributions came against Crystal Palace and Luton Town as he was introduced off the bench to turn the game in Tottenham's favour. Registering two assists in the 3-1 victory over Palace as he sparked a late comeback with some fine play from the right flank, Johnson again did likewise against Luton after his second-half introduction but it was just the one assist this time as his cross for Issa Kabore's own goal was not awarded to him.

His form so far this year has been noted by Postecoglou, who has heaped plenty of praise on the £47.5million signing.

"We had a minimum of 30 goals walk out the building," said the Australian in early April when referring to Harry Kane's Bayern Munich transfer last summer. "People are going to be looking at how we're going to replace that and it can weigh heavily on a young guy's shoulders.

"Not that we can expect Brennan to replace Harry, but we needed goals and assists and I like the way he's handled it. We've tried to tread carefully with him because I can see the potential in him. I can see how much he can improve and the attributes he has, I've got no doubt will fit really well with this team, but I'm not going to put a ceiling on it because that would be unfair on him."

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He added: "We like the way he's progressing but we certainly believe there is more to come, for sure. I think now he's found a bit of confidence, consistency and understanding of how we play, he's getting the rewards, which is great.

"But he's still a young guy and we bought him with very much an eye that whatever he does this year, there's definitely a lot more in him. And when you see improvement that encourages us even more because it makes you think that if we invest the time in him even more, he's going to be a super player for us."

Starting the last three games as a result of his Luton Town heroics, Johnson is in a good place to retain his place once again in Sunday's North London Derby. Involved in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium in late September as he made his full Tottenham debut, the ex-Lincoln City loanee was bright on his first Spurs start but it was unfortunately cut short due to injury.

Now displaying the kind of form that led to Tottenham splashing out £47.5m on the attacker, Johnson could prove to be an influential figure for Postecoglou and Spurs in Sunday's North London Derby showdown. Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side boast the meanest defence in the Premier League this season having only conceded 26 goals but the Gunners do have an issue when it comes to left-back.

That area of the pitch is a weak point in their impressive backline with Arteta chopping and changing there numerous times over the course of the campaign. Previously Oleksandr Zinchenko's position in the team ever since his move from Man City, the Ukrainian's defensive attributes have been questioned and teams do look to take full advantage down Arsenal's left side as a result.

Zinchenko was not a starter in Arsenal's 2-0 win at Wolves last Saturday nor the midweek demolition of Chelsea, instead taking his place on the substitutes' bench as Jakub Kiwior and Takehiro Tomiyasu alternated in the two fixtures. Although it's not his natural side, Tomiyasu has played 15 games at left-back this season and his teammate Kiwior, who can play both as a centre-back and left-back, has been utilised there in 18 games.

Certainly something Arteta needs to look at going forward as it is a rare weakness in his Arsenal team, the question marks over the role may not have persisted had Jurrien Timber not sustained a serious injury that would rule him out for the majority of the campaign. The Dutchman did start at left-back in Arsenal's first two games of the 2023/24 season, before featuring there once again at the beginning of the week on his comeback in a Premier League 2 game at Blackburn Rovers in which he scored.

Until the former Ajax defender is in a position where he can play week in, week out, Arteta may have no other option but to keep tinkering at left-back. Whoever Johnson, if he is to keep his place on the right flank this weekend, comes up against in the Arsenal team, Postecoglou will be confident that the Wales international, along with right-back Pedro Porro, can have a big say on the game due to his pace, ability on the ball and the fact that he can influence proceedings in the final third.

Such a key player for Tottenham so far in 2024, everyone connected with Spurs will be hoping his biggest contribution yet comes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

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