We return to Premier League action in the north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday, and ahead of the game Michael Cox analyses our rivals.
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Tottenham are among the most dynamic, cohesive and entertaining sides in the Premier League under Mauricio Pochettino, and in the past couple of seasons they’ve arrived at the Emirates with a proactive, ambitious approach. Expect a high-tempo contest from the outset.
The defining part of Pochettino’s gameplan is the intense pressing in advanced positions. With an extremely young side - only reserve goalkeeper Michel Vorm is the wrong side of 30 - and plenty of energetic runners, this is a physically impressive side that seeks to impose its style on the opposition.
Pochettino has deployed both a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 system this season, although Spurs still look more comfortable in the latter, which they returned to for last weekend’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Leicester.
Moussa Dembele’s return appeared to be crucial – he’s among the best midfielders in the Premier League at turning past opposition pressure and slaloming forward into attack - but he limped off in the first half of the 1-0 defeat to Leverkusen on Wednesday. Without him, Pocchetino could use a 4-3-3 instead.
Spurs have the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded just five goals from 10 matches.
They will deploy a high defensive line at the Emirates, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris comfortable as a sweeper-keeper. The centre backs are happy covering space in behind, and are also capable of spreading to the flanks with holding midfielder Victor Wanyama dropping back to form a temporary back three.
The positioning of the full-backs is extremely aggressive. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose are physically impressive rather than brilliant technicians, and their constant running allows Tottenham’s midfielders to congregate in central positions, crowding the opposition and attempting to play quick passing combinations on the edge of the box.
The greatest goal threat in recent weeks has been Son Heung-min, who has generally been used on the flank, but is highly versatile and could be pushed forward to become the centre forward if Harry Kane isn’t fit to start.
Areas To Target
In last season’s corresponding fixture, Spurs were excellent in the first half because of their energetic pressing, but tired badly in the second half and Arsenal were eventually unfortunate not to take all three points. Exploiting any fatigue in the latter stages could be crucial.
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