The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Arsenal v Tottenham preview

We return to Premier League action on Saturday when we host Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox examines our opponents in more detail.


Mauricio Pochettino took Tottenham to second place last season – their highest league finish since the 1960s. Although initially his approach was based around heavy pressing in advanced positions, Spurs have often played a slightly more patient, counter-attacking game this season – letting the opposition attack before springing forward quickly in behind.


Pochettino used to favour 4-2-3-1, but recently has deployed a three-man defence most regularly, initially in the 3-4-3 system Arsenal have been using, but sometimes in more of a 3-5-2. His use of that system in the 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool featured Harry Winks playing just behind Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, an incredibly technical midfield trio.


Spurs are very compact without possession, and opponents find it difficult to find space between the lines when attempting to play through midfield. Their transitions have also been very good this season, while the return of Danny Rose and the good form of Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier means they offer more thrust from wing-back than in the opening weeks.


Harry Kane has one back-to-back Golden Boots, and netted in all five of his north London derbies – he’s clearly the man to stop.


Even when not pressing intensely, Spurs still hold a high defensive line. Recent concessions to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial have seen quick players sprinting into the space in behind, and Arsenal might be able to get some joy in a similar respect here.