Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

Scouting Report - Tottenham Hotspur

Before every Arsenal fixture, we'll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners' next opponents.

Arsene Wenger's side make the short trip to White Hart Lane on Sunday to take on Spurs, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Tom Collomosse. 

Tim Sherwood’s spell in charge of Tottenham has been intriguing.

It’s difficult to deduce a clear football philosophy from his approach so far, but his record is commendable. This will be a much tougher game for Arsenal than the comfortable 2-0 FA Cup win over Spurs in January.

Sherwood started his managerial reign with an astonishingly attack-minded 4-4-2, featuring two out-and-out strikers and four adventurous midfielders, but in recent weeks he has played a 4-3-3 featuring three cautious midfielders - a complete turnaround.

Last weekend, he surprisingly named full back Kyle Walker on the right of midfield, and winger Aaron Lennon in the No 10 role, for the 4-0 loss to Chelsea.

"The main threat is unquestionably centre forward Emmanuel Adebayor"

Michael Cox

Whereas the obvious way to exploit Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham side was in behind the defence, now Spurs sit much deeper. This initially meant the space was in front of the defence, but since Sherwood has revised his dislike of defensive midfielders, it means Spurs are reasonably well organised - although Arsenal should still enjoy plenty of the ball, and find space in the centre of midfield.

The main threat is unquestionably centre forward Emmanuel Adebayor, who tends to have eventful meetings against the club who brought him to English football.

Spurs have become too dependent upon his goalscoring in recent weeks, however, with Roberto Soldado only managing one goal in open play this season, and the likes of Mousa Dembele and Lennon not huge goal threats from deeper positions. Gylfi Sigurdsson must be tracked carefully, however, for he makes clever runs in behind the defence.

It feels like Tottenham are still trying to find the right balance under Sherwood. Last week against Chelsea, Sherwood didn’t use any of Spurs’ seven summer signings, suggesting there’s no clear long-term objective for the side overall.

Arsenal must be wary of the threat from individuals, particularly Adebayor, but against such an unpredictable side, the visitors must concentrate on playing their own game.

All in all, it's been a slightly disappointing season for Tottenham.

They sold Gareth Bale last summer but spent a lot of money on seven players and I think that people were entitled to expect a Champions League place, and that certainly was the objective at the start of the season. It became clear in the early period of the season that they weren't quite up to it and then Andre Villas-Boas was sacked in December.

Tim Sherwood has come in and has revived Emmanuel Adebayor but I don't think there's quite enough for them to finish in the top four. If Tottenham win on Sunday, that's a start but I think it will be another season of disappointment for them in terms of not reaching the Champions League, unless they have a spectacular end to the campaign. They will look back on this season with some regret and as a missed chance.

"Tottenham will see this as a game they need to win if they are to have any chance of getting into the top four"

Tom Collomosse

No one seems to fathom quite why sides find it so tough to play on Thursday and then on Sunday. Tottenham's record after Europa League games has been poor this season - they have only won four of 10 Premier League games. Arsenal will have had 48 hours more rest and that will be an advantage. In leagues around Europe, these games will sometimes be switched to a Monday night but that doesn't happen in England. It will be tough for Spurs.

Adebayor has been Tottenham's best outfield player since Sherwood took charge. Their best player overall has been Hugo Lloris in goal. Looking around the Premier League, I can't see a better goalkeeper. He seems to have everything you need, which is quite surprising considering he's not that tall. The only time he looks vulnerable is under the odd cross. He's been outstanding and hanging on to him in the summer should be a priority. He's had a fine season and is the key man.

Arsenal have got some players out on Sunday and Tottenham will see this as a game they need to win if they are to have any chance of getting into the top four. They are probably looking at Arsenal as the one side that they can catch. Spurs have started games slowly under Sherwood but their recent record in these games is good. I think if they start well and score the first goal, they will be optimistic of winning the game, but I think Arsenal go in as favourites, not least because of those two days of rest they will have had.

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