It’s the game every Arsenal fan looks forward to. Fiery, controversy, passion and hatred are words I’d associate with the NLD. Add Mourinho into the mix and it’s spiced things up to a whole new level. Right now I’m confident but I guarantee you that come Sunday morning, anxiety will creep in.
Spurs: Set up and players to watch
There was absolutely no chance I wanted that virus near our club. Negative vibes, media controversy, boring football and poor player management skills is what the current Jose Mourinho gives you. Whilst football is continuing to develop rapidly, he’s a typical example of a manager who has stagnated, along with his outdated playing methods. Prime example was their fixture against RB Leipzig, where the young exciting Nagelsmann completely outshone Jose in both legs.
Come 16:30 on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how he sets his team up. Spurs have played 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 3-4-3 since Jose took over in November. Regardless of the formation, against us he will set his team out to remain compact and resilient, relying heavily on counter attack situations.
In possession, there are no clear patterns or passages of play which Mourinho has implemented. He simply relies on the individual brilliance of his front four to provide the goal threat. Whether it’s Son, Bergwijn or Moura, the pace and fluidity these players possess is something we must account for. Although his goals have come primarily from the spot against us, Harry Kane is the most obvious threat. If he’s presented with a clear goalscoring opportunity, there is a big chance that he will convert.
Serge Aurier’s attacking threat is also something to bear in mind. Whilst clumsy and a weak link defensively, offensively he provides an outlet on the right. Although his final delivery is inconsistent, when he gets it right, it’s one of their major avenues for chance creation.
Tactical set up
Pre COVID-19, Arteta reverted back to basics with a 4-2-3-1 system with Ozil playing the 10 role. He’s the only player in the squad who can drift in between the lines and cause problems with his vision and creativity. Since his absence from the side, this system hasn’t been used and rightly so. Despite 4-3-3 being the long term solution, we currently lack key attributes such as athleticism, discipline and creativity that will allow us to make this system successful. I spoke about this in one of my previous articles, which can be seen here
What I like from Arteta is that he’s clearly analysed the current situation of the squad and implemented a system that suits the strengths of our current players, which is the 3-4-3 formation. David Luiz is without a doubt more effective in a back 3 as shown from his title winning season under Conte. Playing 3 at the back allows the wing backs to advance further forward with freedom and stretch the play. Both Xhaka and Ceballos provide the balance in the midfield pivot and the front three posses the fluidity and ability to cause problems.
We’ve set up with this system in our last four games, winning three and drawing one. Remember the saying ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. This analogy can certainly be used here. Not only because of the improvement in terms of both the results and performances, but I believe this system will allow us to exploit weaknesses within this Spurs side. The system also provides us with more defensive solidity which will help minimise the threat of their attacking assets.
Aurier defensively is suspect, frequently showing poor positional awareness and the inability to maintain concentration levels. He’s a player we have to target and will as under Arteta, we frequently look to create overloads down the left hand side. With the team I’ve selected, attacking combinations created between Tierney at LWB and Saka at LW/inside forward should give Aurier plenty of problems. Wolves, Manchester United, Chelsea and Sheffield United are all teams who identified Aurier as a weak link and exploited it to full effect, with many goals coming from his side.
Hopefully Nicolas will be fit to start. He will fancy himself against Davies at left back. Bellerin’s performance against Leicester was encouraging, creating problems offensively through his overlapping runs. If he can maintain that level of performance in this game, it will give Pepe 1v1 situations against their LB, which he will thrive on.
The quiet influence of Harry Winks needs to be studied carefully. I don’t rate him but he’s a player who gives Spurs an aspect of control. We can stop his influence with our high intensity pressing by not allowing him to have any time and space on the ball, which will help stifle any fluidity Tottenham can have in the game.
The main key to breaking low block teams is to move the ball quickly and maintain a progressive style of football. If we move the ball like we did against Leicester in the first half, I’ve got confidence we will break them down as they are renowned for making defensive errors. The centre halves struggle with pace and clever movement in behind. A potential dynamic front three of Pepe, Auba and Saka would certainly send shivers down their spines. Ceballos will be key. We know Xhaka can help provide the control which is needed but Ceballos can be the dictator. He’s utilising his turn of his to full effect, taking players out the equation and making the right decisions in possession with frequent key passes. Leicester is a far better team in terms of organisation, discipline and structure. The way we cut them open gives me confidence we can do the same to Spurs. But when the opportunities arise, we must be ruthless!
Lineup: (3-4-3) Martinez, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney, Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka
This is a Mourinho side that’s there for the taking and we must be clinical. That’s my only criticism of our performance against Leicester. I’m quietly confident as there are plenty of areas we can exploit. My prediction is 2-1 to ‘the Arsenal’ with Pepe and Aubamenyang on the score sheet. COYG!!!
23 years of age, 23 years as a Gooner. Arsenal runs through my veins and it pains me to see the current position and state of the club. Reading many football articles over the years has inspired me to write blogs containing Arsenal analysis. I’ve always wanted my fellow Gooners to be aware of my thoughts and opinions of ‘The Arsenal’ and thanks to Dave and Paul, I now have a platform which makes this possible.