Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's travel to Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
The 1-1 draw in November’s north London derby at the Emirates was notable for Tottenham’s extremely aggressive midfield press, which led to Mauricio Pochettino’s side dominating in the first half, before Arsenal made inroads after the break and eventually equalised through Kieran Gibbs.
The Gunners should expect something similar this time around, as the home side are extremely well-organised in the centre of the pitch, remaining very compact and preventing the opposition from playing through them.
Pochettino’s side have the best defensive record in the Premier League, a testament not simply to their back four, but to the organisation and work-rate of the whole side. The manager regularly rotates his full-backs, who have extremely draining roles as they’re asked to overlap regularly, while Kevin Wimmer has come into the defence in place of the injured Jan Vertonghen, but Spurs continue to keep an aggressive defensive line, pushing opponents away from goal.
The midfield presses excellently. Eric Dier has adapted to his defensive midfield role remarkably well, while Mousa Dembele could be fit to play alongside him. Diligent defensively, he’s also excellent at slaloming his way past midfield challenges at transitions, and often leads counter-attacks. In the reverse fixture, he made plenty of tackles (triangles) and dribbled past opponents (upside-down triangles).
Dele Alli should play at the top of the midfield trio, and provides great dynamism when Spurs are attacking. He can also run in behind to collect long balls from defence, almost becoming a second striker.
Christian Eriksen is the closest thing to a playmaker and should start from the left, drifting inside. On the right there are various options: Erik Lamela works hard and has improved his efficiency, Nacer Chadli gets into the box, while Son Heung-min is an excellent dribbler and very good on the counter-attack.
Up front, Harry Kane has improved his all-round game this season and often comes short, but remains at his best in the penalty box, and after Arsenal’s poor defending of crosses this week, needs to be watched carefully.
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