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Arsenal v Tottenham: return of the triumvirate, the battle of the midfield.

By Darren Stinsman

Arsenal go into a crunch North London derby on Saturday lunchtime knowing that defeat would leave them seven points behind their bitter rivals. Tottenham are in fine form at the moment and will be full of confidence following their recent 3-1 victory over European champions Real Madrid at Wembley. Arsenal were in action later that week, drawing 0-0 with Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League, causing some pundits to proclaim a changing of the guard in North London.

However, Arsenal can nip such talk in the bud by securing a famous victory on Saturday and going on to assume their usual place above Spurs in the league. It will be a difficult feat to achieve, but Gooners should be in buoyant mood ahead of the visit of Harry Kane and co as Arsenal have a 100% record in the league this season.

The last three league games between Arsenal at Tottenham at the Emirates have finished 1-1 and a draw really should be the bare minimum that the Gunners aim for this coming weekend. Make sure to look at 5dimes when wagering on the game and you will see that Arsenal are the favourites to win this crucial match. Tottenham have their strongest team in 30 years, but Arsenal need not fear them.

They travelled to Old Trafford in their last away game and were beaten 1-0 by Man Utd thanks to another Jose Mourinho tactical masterclass. The Portuguese laid down a blueprint for beating this Spurs team – mark Kane out of the game, take the fight to them in midfield, pin back their marauding full-backs, give Christian Eriksen very little time on the ball – and if Arsene Wenger can follow it then Arsenal can take three points.

It is a big “if” as Wenger is not known for adapting his tactics towards different opposition, typically preferring instead to send out his best team and be damned. But if he plays Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and really gets them fired up, Arsenal can terrorise the Tottenham backline and keep those full-backs busy. The latter two of that triumvirate are itching for a move away from The Emirates, but their form at present is unlikely to have Europe’s elite queuing up for their signatures. We can only hope Wenger gives them a stern talking to and inspires them to deliver on Saturday.

Arsenal have struggled of late after an international break, and there will be a big onus on Wenger to prepare his troops suitably for an early kick-off on Saturday. Defeat will surely spell a miserable weekend for Arsenal fans across the world, whereas victory would spell joy. Another 1-1 would not be the end of the world, but it would not exactly be the morale boost this team and this club so badly needs.

Francis Coquelin struggled at centre-back in Man City game and Wenger would be wise to avoid a repeat of that experiment. If Per Mertesacker is fit to return and slot in alongside Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal it would make dealing with the threat of Kane a lot easier.

But the real battle that decides this game could be fought in midfield. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are not combative midfielders, neither is particularly inclined to screen the defence and neither is particular good in the tackle, so they risk being overwhelmed by the powerful Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama. If they do not get a grip on the game in the middle of the park, Arsenal will be overrun and the defence will be under a great deal of pressure throughout. Wenger might be tempted to field Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny in the middle to make Arsenal more combative and that could pay dividends. But Spurs are in magnificent form and it will take every Arsenal player being at the top of his game if the Gunners are to take three points from this clash. We can but hope.

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3 comments to Arsenal v Tottenham: return of the triumvirate, the battle of the midfield.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I like to think that we are more than a match for them. If we fire fully from the start.
    We have to be weary of their diving players and the ref of course .
    I feel confident with our players , whomsoever starts. And also buoyed be the fact that the awesome Arsenal Belgium fans will be there.
    So its 2-1 to us for me ; or 3-1 if Mr.&Mrs Walter B are also in attendence.
    Up the Gunners !

  • nicky

    @Brickfields Gunners,
    A good forecast. If we play as we did at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, we should take all three points.
    And of course the presence of the delectable Mme B will be an inevitable bonus. 😉

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I believe Arsenal will beat Tottenham Hs if Le Prof gets his starts and bench right for the match.

    The Arsenal starts and bench must be very correct to the letter and not be toyed with by wrong starting any Gunner that should not start the match. But rather I implore Le Prof to take a serious look at his starting XI away against Everton a month ago in the PL in which the Gunners walloped the Toffees 2-5 as the catalyst for making his starts and bench correctly and not wrongly for this match. For, just any wrong starting Gunners in Le Prof’s starting XI for the match could cause problem in the game for Arsenal..

    I think Le Prof is looking to have injury concern with some of his centre-backs if reports on this in the media is true. If it turned out to be true, then of course Le Prof has to make a change to his back three again for this match. Is Mertesacker alright and can start this match? And who will start at the right side of the back three if Koscielny is still Achilles? And since the centre-backs: Chambers and Mustafi have just returned from the sidelines and have not come on as substitutes twice in matches to get rid of match rustiness before starting a big PL game, they should start this match from the bench. But Holding is availabl and if he is, can he start this match and be very effective throughout in it? And the injury update had it that Ramsey is muscular injury scares, therefore, I am replacing him with Iwobi on my bench and also replace the injured Giroud with Nketiah starting friom the bench as well.

    Coquelin played very well at the Etihad against Man City as CB. He was not the one responsible for our lose to City but referee Michael Oliver and the linesman were. Therefore, I am starting him in this match as DM alongside Xhaka in the midfield while Lacazette leads the line and Sanchez and Ozil operate by his sides as attacking wingers and playmakers in the friont three.

    My 3-2-4-1 starts and 7 Gunners bench:

    Starts:
    Cech
    Holding Mertesacker Monreal
    Bellerin Kolasinac
    Ozil Xhaka Coquelin Sanchez
    Lacazette

    Bench:
    Macey
    Debuchy Chambers Mustafi Iwobi Walcott Nketiah.
    FT scores: AFC 3-0 TOTHS

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