I have to admit, I’m quite worried about this game. Normally I approach the North London derby with an unjustified sense of optimism but I think this match may have come a little bit too soon for the Pochettino revolution.
After an initial surge of positivity, the last few games have brought Spurs fans back down to earth as the usual problems resurface. When Tottenham were 1-0 down on Wednesday night against Forest, Twitter was filled with outrage and predictions that Pochettino wouldn’t last past Christmas. Knee-jerk reactions are par for the course on social media but it’s ridiculously early to be judging our new manager.
If Pochettino can pull off a result at the Emirates it would certainly put the project back on track and silence some of the doubters. Arsenal’s injury problems and a lack of cover in defence give us a glimmer of hope, added to the fact that this will be a very different proposition to West Brom and Forest. Playing a side that doesn’t sit back and is vulnerable to counter attacks may actually suit us.
Our oldest enemies hardly need introducing. After another fourth place finish last season, Wenger’s team have started reasonably well and remain unbeaten in the league with 9 points in – surprise, surprise – fourth place.
The former Woolwich based club have faired less well in the cups, suffering chastening defeats at the hands of Borussia Dortmund and Southampton. Dortmund totally outplayed Arsenal, who were lucky to escape with a 2-0 loss – hopefully Pochettino has been studying the tape.
Wenger has favoured a 4-1-4-1 this year with Wellbeck as the lone striker, Flamini or Arteta in the holding role, Wilshere and Ramsey in the centre, and Ozil and Sanchez on the flanks.
Last time out in the league, he switched to a 4-2-3-1 giving Ozil the chance to play in his favoured number 10 role. That seemed to work as Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners against Villa. We can probably expect something similar this weekend.
Arsenal are a passing side and top the possession table for this season on 63%. They have unsurprisingly made the most short passes in the league but are also top for through balls and have played the fewest long balls.
Their defence is susceptible to counter attacks. Spurs should concentrate on winning possession high up the field and getting the ball forward quickly.
Arsenal are big favourites at 1.79, the draw is 3.95, while a Spurs win is out at 5.2
Arsenal have several long term injury victims including Walcott, Gnabry, Giroud and Debuchy. Sanogo is also out, while Flamini and Monreal have knocks but may be available.
Vertonghen should come back into the side – I hate to think how Chiriches would fair in a game this pressurised. I would like to pair the Belgian with Fazio but I fear we will play Kaboul again.
The box-to-box role has been a problem for Pochettino with neither Bentaleb nor Demebele nailing down the position. In this game I would partner Capoue and Stambouli to give our defence some extra protection.
Our lack of width was a problem last week as we continually tried to play the ball through the middle of the park which West Brom successfully congested. The fullbacks have to get forward more. It is such a shame that our best attacking fullback, Kyle Walker, has been injured since the new manager arrived.
Let’s hope Eriksen, Lamela and co. have a better game than last weekend.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Spurs 2 (Leicester got a draw so why can’t we!)
Do you agree with my team? Let me know in the comments below.
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