While Arsenal have struggled continuously with big games in recent years, they have remained largely in control of North London due to Tottenham’s never-ending ability to shoot themselves in the foot. Both sides have tested fans to their limit this season, yet against Manchester City Arsenal showed signs they may be able to compete with those at the top again and Spurs have quietly settled into the new system Mauricio Pochettino has set out for them. We had the best william hill promo code I have come across, but it was difficult to tell which way it would go.
The teams matched up in midfield – Spurs in a 4-2-3-1 and Arsenal in a 4-3-3 – but differed in approach. Arsenal looked to sit back and soak up pressure before counter-attacking at speed as they did against Man City, while Spurs pressed and harried to claim back the ball once it was lost.
Arsenal’s approach immediately paid dividends when Danny Welbeck outpaced Danny Rose down the right and pulled it inside, with Mesut Ozil finishing off Olivier Giroud’s presumably mishit shot, although this would be their high point of the afternoon.
It wasn’t the last time Rose would be caught out defensively but he was still one of their best performers on the day. As they had against Chelsea, Spurs looked to overload their opponents down the left, where Christian Eriksen drifted inside, Harry Kane went left and Rose steamed along the line to join them. Hector Bellerin’s improved a lot in the last few months but he was terrorised here: follow Eriksen inside and Rose had too much space out wide, but leave him and Spurs’ most talented player was free to do as he pleased inside, while Kane was a constant pain looking to pick up the ball and drag the centre-backs apart. Eventually Welbeck followed Rose deeper to stop him isolating Bellerin, but he didn’t do a particularly good job although the pair began some snide bickering shortly towards the end of the first half and squared up as the teams were heading off.
Bellerin clearly needed more cover than what Francis Coquelin alone could provide but Arsenal’s midfield were busy elsewhere. Santi Cazorla had been the difference in the game against City yet here he was largely anonymous, as was Aaron Ramsey. Ryan Mason was perhaps lucky the referee was so lenient but him and Nabil Bentaleb bullied Arsenal’s midfield, claiming control of the midfield while Eriksen drifted inside to outnumber them. Their dominance in the middle meant they had full control over the game, while their manipulation of Arsenal’s right side allowed them an obvious avenue for being more incisive.
Spurs’ problem was that the early goal meant Arsenal weren’t too bothered about ceding control. They had their lead already, all they now needed to do was protect it, so they were happy to sit back and soak up Tottenham’s attacks. The obvious turning point was Tottenham’s set-piece goal, which now meant Arsenal had to look for another, but they were completely unable to change the flow of the game at this point. For them it became an exercise in protecting their draw, with the pace of Theo Walcott brought on as a counter-attacking threat just in case.
They couldn’t hold out though, and the goal unsurprisingly came from that left hand side. Rose was given as much time as he wanted to pick out a perfect cross on to the head of Kane, leaping above Koscielny to send it looping back across goal and seal a derby win.
We say this every year and Arsenal end up in the top four, but could this finally be the year there’s a changing of the guard? They have had their worst start to a season in decades and their signs of real improvement are dubious. There’s several teams that look in a good place to usurp them and Spurs are definitely one of them – after some troubles adapting, they really look a strong well-drilled side under Pochettino.
Contrary to the diagram, it was actually Erik Lamela rather than Nacer Chadli on Tottenham’s right, but he was mainly on the periphery of the game anyway.