Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Emirates Stadium on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Tottenham Hotspur started their campaign with two straight victories, but following three league games without a win, it’s obvious the players haven’t yet grasped Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics.
The Argentine won plaudits for his emphasis upon heavy pressing and quick attacking at Southampton, although this is essentially the strategy Spurs attempted to play under Andre Villas-Boas, coach for Tottenham’s previous two visits to the Emirates. With a similar group of players, time will tell whether Pochettino is more successful.
"The likes of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez might fancy their pace to cause problems in behind Tottenham's centre backs"
A notable tactical change has come, somewhat surprisingly, in goal. Under Villas-Boas, France international Hugo Lloris was an incredibly proactive, aggressive goalkeeper who sprinted from his line to make interceptions, and darted forward to the edge of the box to claim crosses. He appears more cautious this season - although with Arsenal likely to play through balls in behind the Spurs defence, don’t be surprised to see him sweeping outside his penalty box on Saturday.
Pochettino instructs his defenders to play high up the pitch, as part of the pressing strategy, which involves winning possession quickly. However, the likes of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez might fancy their pace to cause problems in behind Tottenham's centre backs.
Younes Kaboul should start to the right of the centre-back duo - he’s strong in the air, but his passing in last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to West Brom was wasteful. To the left, Jan Vertonghen or Vlad Chiriches offer more guile on the ball.
The midfield anchorman is Etienne Capoue, who has started all five league games thus far. He plays in a centre-left position and is primarily concerned with ball winning, but is also capable of knocking searching passes out to the flanks, particularly the right.
In Spurs’ past two games his partner has been Mousa Dembele, extremely direct when dribbling but a perennial sideways passer and rarely a goal threat. Brazilian Paulinho, a strong runner, or steady passer Nabil Bentaleb could be preferred.
In Spurs’ 4-2-3-1 formation, the attacking trio are allowed license to rotate. Christian Eriksen, a beautifully balanced playmaker, prefers playing centrally and provides clever through-balls for his attacking colleagues - he’s excellent at finding space between the lines. On the right, Erik Lamela is a tricky dribbler and offers a constant threat
Up front, Arsenal need little introduction to former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor - dismissed in this fixture two seasons ago - although after three quiet, goalless matches, he could lose his place to Roberto Soldado. If Spurs are chasing the game, expect Pochettino to introduce an extra striker and switch to 4-4-2, with young Harry Kane a lively penalty-box presence.
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