Typical North London derby it was with some breath taking end to end football, ear deafening fan chants and goals too. Unlike last two derbies, it was Tottenham this time who secured three hard earned points (literally 6 points) from the game. Let’s analyze the game tactically,
Early Arsenal (Half) Domination
Possession wise, Arsenal dominated the first 30 mins of the game. But this cannot be termed as complete domination as they rarely tested Hugo Lloris in the goals. Arsenal’s passing was crisper as usual and as commentators pointed out it was the lack of the final ball that took the glitter away from Arsenal’s performance today. One particular moment when Arsenal did produce a great final ball was when Santi Cazorla’s jaw-dropping 40-yard pass found Olivier Giroud, but Vertonghen did just enough to clear the danger. Other than that spurs were pretty much comfortable at soaking early pressure from the visitors.
Offside Trap Tragedy
Arsenal play a high line defense and possession based game play. If any team want to achieve success with possession football, they need to have the key ingredients for it like the ability to apply pressure, Offside traps and also the passing technique. We all know Arsenal can pass and keep the ball well, but what about their off the ball tactics?
Tottenham punished them with two similar goals as they took advantage of Arsenal’s high lined defense. Mertasacker was the culpable one for the first goal. Offside traps are dangerous now a days especially with players like Lennon and Bale foxing around. If trap fails you should have fast defenders at least to save your neck. Mertesacker was too slow. He is a good defender but will never suit for Arsenal’s style of play. I still believe Kocielny is the best option when dealing with these speed merchants.
Second goal was more comical. It was again a diagonal run that sliced Arsenal’s defense open. Both Monreal and Verminator should share the blame here. Monreal is not fast enough to track Lennon (still he should have at least tailed him). Vermaelen was just ball watching the whole time which summarize his string of poor performances this season. School boy defending!
One Man Army?
So much of the pre-match hype was centred on Gareth Bale, who had been in form of his life with eight goals in his previous six outings. He was the one who opened the scoring with a neatly taken finish. But other than that, he was shallowly quite during the game considering his usual explosive standards.
The picture above shows the heat map of Gareth Bale from today’s game. From this, one can understand that his involvement in the match was very less (very less dark spots). But noway I am taking the credit away from him for his goal. What a sweet finish that was?
Too Late For The Gunners
This Arsenal team shows urgency only when they go behind. Per Mertesacker pulled one back for the Gunners in the second half when he headed the ball home from a Theo Walcott free kick. Arsenal continued to control the game, but spurs were looking dangerous in counters. Bale, Sigurdsson and substitute Jermain Defoe wasted three great chances to bed the game once and for all.
Ramsey and Walcott came close to secure an equalizer but Tottenham defended the their fort well to seal three crucial points. Wenger showed some tactical surprises when he moved Ramsey to RB and played Mertasacker as CF during the later stages. But other than that nothing much tactics can be talked here.
Tottenham surrendered a 10-point lead to Arsenal last year, but will that happen again? I don’t think so. Let’s wait and see anyway!
Verdict: North London is Lilly White for now!