Arsenal vs. Tottenham: A Full-Pelt North London Derby
Arsenal started with a 4-3-3 formation while the Spurs side opts for a bit defensive and begin with a 4-2-3-1 formation. The game ended with a 2-2 draw leaving the Gunner’s side frustrated and the away side a bit relieved.
Tottenham Playing It Safe
While having most of the possession throughout the game, the Gunner’s side capitalized from the left flank which was the key area for them to attack. When Arsenal was sitting deep, they quickly transformed the formation to 2-5-2-1. Although Tottenham started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, Pochetino advised the players to remain rock-solid and fluctuate to 4-4-2 with Son and Kane at the top attacking side. The Spurs didn’t press high as they usually do at home.
Guns Blazing Gunners or Low-Ball Spurs?
Arsenal’s Kolasinac was the best-attacking player and Guendouzi have to drop back to free him up and charge from the left flank. The Spurs full-backs know the potential threat posed by Aubemyang and Pepe, so they sat deep. Eric Lamela, the wide Spurs mid-fielder, had not many options to build-up as marking Kolasinac made Ghendouzi free to move up the field while pressing Ghendouzi means coming one-on-one with both the players. Spurs had a good solid defense at the start. But Aubemyang had to tuck in sometimes or Lacazette dropping back to open up Spurs.
Arsenal side had an excellent pace and Spurs were wary of that. The home side managed to push back Tottenham midfielders and create space for Lacazette between the lines. Torreira had to play the traditional Number 10 position often because none of the three starting midfielders, Xhaka, Ghendouzi, and Torrreira, play in this position. He pushes the defensive line to overload the box or plays the highest of the three in the Arsenal’s formation. Arsenal was switching the ball between the wide flanks giving them a chance to score goals from both sides.
Xhaka had to be the only defensive midfielder in the high-pressing plan of Arsenal. Spurs take advantage of that and were amazing on the transition. Kane and Lamela were hustling on the counter-attack. While the Arsenal’s full-backs were high up the pitch, it gave Spurs attackers the numerical advantage and happened many times in the first half leading to many dangerous situations.
Ericksen Leads at the Emirates
A long-ball was played by the Spurs defenders which linked up Kane and Son while the Arsenal back four were out of position. Both Ghendouzi and Torreiraa were away from the center giving Spurs the chance to breach the midfield. By committing so many numbers on the transition, Tottenham scored the first goal at Emirates stadium. Ericksen scored his 50th goal for Tottenham coming back into the team this season. And a clumsy challenge on Son gave Harry Kane a chance to score the 2nd goal just before half-time.
Arsenal Had to Make a Change
The manager brought Ceballos in the 2nd half who was capable of playing the number 10 exquisitely and as the defensive mid as well. He gave Arsenal an increased control and covered defensive gaps while dropping back and played the number 10 to boost penetrative passing. Arsenal squeezed the Spurs side and pushed the side from the center while opening up their flanks.
Pochettino’s Effective Strategy
Even on the ball, the Spur’s fullbacks were conservative but they spread wider to make it hard for Arsenal’s front-three to cover 5 players. Arsenal had no choice but to press from the center because they have massive spaces at the center. And Spurs had to play long-balls to Lamela or Ericksen to charge forward with high numbers. Penetration was difficult for Spurs because the back-four were sitting deep infront of the box. Quick transitions and getting between the lines turned out to be effective for Spurs. Lamela and Son drift centrally to get between the lines and easily move to the wide positions if they were vacated. Arsenal scored two against Tottenham leading to a draw at the final whistle.
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