Saint Totteringham’s Day On the Line As Arsenal Visit Tottenham – Match Preview
Arsenal are set to resume there Premier League campaign with a visit across North London for the second North London derby of the season as they taken on Tottenham Hotspur. With results netting out how they have this weekend, a European spot seems a distant possibility for the Gunners. However, there is still pride to play for.
Since their capitulation to Brighton in the second match of Project Restart, Arsenal have managed to turn it all around and look like an inspired side. They managed 7 ¾ halves without conceding a goal and they put together a first half on Tuesday that was absolutely brilliant to watch against Leicester.
This is a North London Derby so none of that really matters. When these two sides meet, pride is on the line. It’s difficult to assess these two teams off of the back of their last meet up in the early part of the season because neither coach he was running the team is here and the two teams are drastically different.
How Spurs Have Fallen
Tottenham are a year removed from their best season, having finished as runner’s up in the Champions League. They now sit in 10th place with the likelihood of Europe even more sparse than Arsenal’s.
Jose Mourinho was supposed to come in and propel the squad Pochettino built over that hump and bring silverware home. Instead as you watch this Spurs quad. They look uninspiring and toothless. Their performances have been lacklustre and their attacking displays are ponderous.
They lack any serious penetration in the final third and the once masterful machinations of Mourinho can’t help this squad. They’ve been so bad that in their last 3 matches they have only created on big chance.
Against Bournemouth in the mid week, Spurs started out in 3-2-5 with Aurier providing the main attacking width down the right flank. With Winks dropping in between the two centerbacks and the two wingers tucked in centrally.
The problem beame as both wingers moved into the center along with Lo Celso and essentially operating on the same line. With very little space between them this made it easy for Bournemouth’s well-structured defensive shape to cut off service into the forwards.
Spurs did very little to take advantage of their numerical advantage in attack and did almost nothing to challenge the Bournemouth goal. There was a lack of movement and creativity that made Spurs look flat overall.
Given how this Spurs side looked, under Pochettino they now look a shell of their former selves and the combination of Mourinho’s negative tactics and Levy’s inability to strengthen the squad have made them easier prey.
But this is a Derby . . .
A Good Chance For the Arsenal
As mentioned previously, Arsenal put in a first half performance against Leicester on Tuesday that showed a glimpse of what Mikel Arteta wants from his team.
Under Emery, the chief complaint in attack was a lack of movement, support and creativity AND speed when entering the final third. Against Leicester, the entire first half contained everyone one those elements and the Gunners were lucky not to come out of that half with a bigger score.
With Spurs sitting 17th in the league with xG allowed since the turn of the year, a performance by the Gunners like we saw on Tuesday could make this quite an enjoyable match for all Gooners.
The key though to this match is going to be the defensive structure of the Gunners. Arteta has significantly improved Arsenal defensively. Since the loss to Manchester City which saw the Gunners with a 2.74 xG against, the Gunners have tightened up and kept their xG against under 1. Conversely in attack they are averaging an xG of 1.75 through the last 4 league matches.
But this is a Derby . . .
What To Expect
Forget the stats. Forget everything we just said about how each team is playing. It’s a derby and derbies mean throwing out all the records and stats and praying.
Now, this isn’t a derby where the players really buy into what’s at stake. Sure, they’ll talk a good game but this era of players who aren’t attached to the club like their predecessors means that the derby displays they show and speak of often come across contrived.
Still, Arsenal have something to play for. Some are playing for new contracts. Some are playing to show Mikel Arteta they want to feature in his thinking for the future. Some just want to prove they are big man on the hill. And there remains the off chance that they can still qualify for Europe.
I have no doubt Arteta will have his team ready to play. I’ve also got a feeling that given how Spurs have been playing they are in store for a severe beat down. I full expect that arsenal are going to look to come out of the blocks flying. Without the crowd to get behind Spurs at home – it should be an easy enough feat to achieve.
I am still filled with the usual derby day dread because it is a derby after all but for the first time in a while I feel we can and should come out of this with all 3 points.
Tottenham 1 – 3 Arsenal
WHAT THE HEAD COACH SAYS (COURTESY ARSENAL.COM)
They are all different, it depends a lot whether you win or lose, that’s what makes it special. Obviously we have had some really nice ones playing them at the Emirates and beating them so I have some really good memories on that. It’s such a special occasion. Rivalry in football, when you take it in a positive way, and that brings energy, that brings passion, that brings a city together. It’s such a beautiful thing. We are privileged to have big teams in the city and it’s a shame we don’t have the fans to enjoy it with us.
I think a derby has a completely different context to what is happening with the current form and anything like that. I have huge respect for Jose, for what he’s trying to do there, and we know to go there and get a win we’re going to have to do everything really, really well. I’m expecting a really tough game.
ARSENAL RECORD VS OPPONENT (LEAGUE ONLY)
55P 20W 23D 12L
Tottenham: : DWLWD
AVERAGE GOALS SCORED PER GAME
Arsenal: 1.12 (away)
Tottenham: 1.82 (home)
AVERAGE GOALS CONCEDED PER GAME
Arsenal: 1.24 (away)
Tottenham: 0.94 (home)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Simon Bennett, Daniel Cook
Fourth official: Graham Scott
Replacement official: Darren Blunden
VAR: Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard.
MATCH FACTS (COURTESY BBC.CO.UK)
- Tottenham are unbeaten in their last five home league games against Arsenal (W3, D2).
- The Gunners’ only clean sheet in their last 10 away league matches against Spurs came in a 1-0 victory in March 2014.
- That was the last away league win by either side in this fixture.
- Tottenham have dropped 42 points from winning positions in Premier League games against Arsenal, more than any side has against another in the competition’s history.
- No Premier League fixture has seen more penalties scored than the north London derby – 19 have been netted in total
- Arsenal are looking to end a Premier League season unbeaten in away London derbies for the first time since 2004-05.
- Only Liverpool have lost fewer top-flight matches than the eight Arsenal have this campaign.
- The Gunners could win three successive away games in the league without conceding for the first time since May 2013.
- Mikel Arteta lost only two of his nine North London derby appearances as an Arsenal player.
- Bukayo Saka has 12 assists in all competitions this season, only Kevin De Bruyne (19) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (14) have more amongst Premier League players.