Arsenal v Tottenham – Analysing the expected key battle
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur face off for the first North London derby of the season. This game is going to take place at the Emirates Stadium, where the Gunners have looked unbeatable at times this campaign. They haven’t lost a league game since losing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in the second weekend of this season.
As a result, Unai Emery’s men are on the shoulder of the top four places in the table, and a win on Sunday could see them leapfrog their arch-rivals. Meanwhile, Spurs on the other hand, have been terrific in the last few games.
They dismantled Chelsea last week and played well to get the better of Inter Milan. Mauricio Pochettino’s men are right in the mix for a top-three finish.
Hence, it is pretty clear that this game is not going to be easy for both teams. Let us take a look at the key battle that could decide the fate of this mammoth encounter:
The Midfield battle
If we recall the Tottenham-Chelsea game, we saw that the better midfield eventually dominated and won the game.
Pochettino deployed a diamond in the middle with Eric Dier as a holding player, flanked by Moussa Sissoko and Christien Eriksen, with Dele Alli at the tip, virtually man-marking Jorginho. Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son were making runs to trouble the Chelsea centre-backs.
On the evidence of how well it functioned, don’t be surprised if Spurs start with the same system this Sunday.
For Arsenal to counter that, the three at the back system would be perfect. Emery can free up his wing-backs, Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac, to exploit the space in the wide areas, as his opponents would be heavy in the central areas.
The other important thing to do is to aid the central midfield duo of Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka. The 3-4-2-1 system allows the two wide attacking players to tuck in and support the play centrally, consequently equalising the team with the opposition midfield in terms of numerical advantage.
Hence, we could see a game where there would be a lot of traffic in the central areas of the pitch. The derby could be decided on the pace with which both teams pass the ball and which side switches the play better because there would be plenty of space in the wide areas.
Expect a ferocious derby with a lot at stake, with the winners getting momentum and a place in the top-four.