The Woolwich Wanderers come to the Lane for Spurs vs Arsenal in the North London derby, so we take a look at how you destroy Arsene Wenger’s side.
It’s the big one, Spurs vs Arsenal! The North London derby is here once again and this time it’s on our patch. Our recent form has been good and there is a real anticipation that we can dispatch the Gunners in the same manner that Chelsea were sent packing earlier in the season.
So, what can we expect and what should we be on the lookout for in Spurs vs Arsenal this time? Here are five keys to taking on the Gunners.
1. Attack the left back
Arsene Wenger’s side have really improved of late, but their old weaknesses remain in the full back zones, particularly the left back area. This position has seen Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal split time, but both are vulnerable to opponents getting in-behind them.
The last two teams to beat Arsenal on their travels have had real success in getting behind the full backs. Southampton dispatched the Gunners 2-0 on New Years day and they created a whole host of chances by getting up in to these areas.
Sadio Mane’s chipped goal from the by-line was a perfect example of how to open the Gunners up. A lofted ball was played in-behind for him to run on to, something with which Arsenal have had trouble defending, as Per Mertesacker is often slow to react to these. Mane latched on to the ball, pulling Mertesacker and Szczesny towards him, before he finished with a neat chip over them.
Southampton’s second also arrived from a lofted ball played over left back Kieran Gibbs’ head. This time James Ward Prowse ran on to it and put in a cross. The ball in saw confusion reign in the box and Szczesny kicked it straight to Dusan Tadic who sent it back past him with interest.
But it’s not just Southampton; Arsenal’s previous away loss came to a Stoke side that did just the same. Admittedly Stoke are also a crossing team, as they got Jonathan Walters up against Kieran Gibbs this time.
Walters provided the long cross you can see in the above graphic for Stoke’s second goal from Gibbs’ left back zone. They also opened the scoring with another cross from this side, which led to the short knock down yellow arrow you can see in the penalty area. This goal in more detail shows how Stoke got in down Gibbs’ left side with Walters supplying the cross for Diouf to knock down and Crouch to finish.
Getting in to the Arsenal left back zone will be key to the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Arsenal this time. Whether it is Kyle Walker or the wide player in front of him, being aggressive and getting forward to cross will be key.
2. Shots in the box
What both Stoke and Southampton did well was get their wide players forward in to crossing positions. This leads to high percentage chances in the penalty area from close range.
Southampton had 13 shots at the Arsenal goal in their win, but a whopping 10 were inside the box and from extremely close range.
Stoke took 8 of their 13 shots from inside the area with all three of their goals coming from within the six yard box.
The lesson that needs to be learnt is to get the ball in to the box and look to score from the knockdowns or errors in the Arsenal defence. The Gunners have committed 7 errors that have lead to goals this season, the second most in the Premier League, something for the Tottenham tactics to consider in Spurs vs Arsenal this time.
3. Stopping Arsenal between the lines
The Gunners live between the lines with their plethora of playmakers drifting in to these pockets of space in order to create the little through passes that they thrive off. Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez and Wilshere all love to get in these areas to slide a striker in or create a pull back for a low-driven crossing opportunity.
At the Emirates we really frustrated them by stationing Ryan Mason and Etienne Capoue in front of our back four to deter them from doing this.
It worked for large periods of the match and also created breakout opportunities for Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela to burst forward on the counter and use their speed.
This time the game will be on our turf and we will be expected to come out and play more. Whilst we will have to be aggressive with the ball, we still can’t lose sight of stopping Arsenal from getting their playmakers between our lines of defence and midfield.
4. Dealing with the Arsenal counter attack
With us expected to be more aggressive, this means that Arsenal will have the chance to use the counter attacking game that has served them well away from home recently. Many pundits were surprised at their disciplined performance away to Man City, but it’s something we saw them do at the Lane last season in their 1-0 smash and grab.
Arsenal had just 40% possession and 3 shots on target, but most importantly Tomas Rosicky’s second minute winner.
Whether Arsene Wenger will be quite so defensive this time remains to be seen. Recent matches would indicate that he will be, so the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Arsenal needs to deal with drawing them out.
5. Luring Arsenal on
Drawing Arsenal out will not be easy, but lessons can be learnt from the last two teams to beat them on their travels, Stoke and Southampton.
Stoke are naturally a counter attacking team and set up to play this way both home and away. They sat deep and created turnovers in their own half from which they could spring forward, but interestingly turned up the pressure down the Arsenal right.
This side saw Hector Bellerin at full back and the Spanish youngster is very aggressive with his movement to get forward, something that can be exploited. He likes to carry the ball and can be susceptible to turning possession over, which allows attackers to get in-behind. This can pull Per Mertesacker out from the centre and he is uncomfortable defending in wider areas as he lacks foot speed. With Arsenal preferring to attack down their right side, bringing some pressure on the young Gooners right back might be a good idea.
Southampton approached their game with Arsenal in a similar manner to lure them out by engaging the ball as it entered the middle third. Louis van Gaal has used this tactic a lot at Man Utd this season and another Dutch manager, Ronald Koeman, did the same. Koeman’s Saints have been applauded for their high pressing game this season, but in this match they noticeable dropped deeper in an attempt to lure Arsenal on.
This led to opportunities for them to put balls over the top and in-behind the Arsenal full backs for the fast wide forwards to jet on to. Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic gave Arsene Wenger plenty of problems as the Saints ran out 2-0 winners.
Mauricio Pochettino will face a similar conundrum in Spurs vs Arsenal this time, but he may do well to look at the play of Stoke and Southampton.
Spurs vs Arsenal outlook
Both teams are in seriously good form at the moment, but our recent home record is a real cause for optimism. After a shaky start, we’re unbeaten in our last 6 Premier League matches at the Lane, winning 4 and drawing 2.
This game will be won and lost with how we deal with Arsenal’s counter attack and how effective we are at getting in to their left back zone.
Spurs vs Arsenal prediction: Spurs 2 Arsenal 1.
Spurs vs Arsenal betting
There are a few interesting bets around to be had. Most notably Betfair, who are offering 8/1 on Spurs to win for new customers.