Though Tottenham’s poor form is a real cause for concern going into the first north London derby of the season, there is an argument that Arsenal away is the ideal fixture for them. When confidence is low, the instinct of every football team is to retreat and play in a more circumspect fashion. This runs counter to the style Mauricio Pochettino has branded on Spurs over the last two years. In most of their games, Spurs are expected to make the running and dictate proceedings, which is a hard thing to do when you are struggling for form. At the Emirates on Sunday, Tottenham face a team who will happily do this for them, which might enable Pochettino’s side to focus on the basics of the game a little more. The visitors will be underdogs on Sunday, and there are numerous examples of this scenario allowing teams to play with greater freedom. We suggested three key tactical points for Spurs to focus against their fierce rivals.
Focus Attacks Down Arsenal’s Left Side
The left flank has been a troublesome area of Arsene Wenger’s team from a defensive perspective. On their teamsheet, Alex Iwobi is positioned as a left winger but he does not stay there when Arsenal have the ball. Wenger has always liked having a wideman in his team who operates more like a third midfielder; Robert Pires, Tomas Rosicky, Alexander Hleb and Samir Nasri notable examples. Iwobi isn’t always in a position to get back and support his left back, and when he does track back he isn’t always switched on in defensive situations; which is understandable for a 20-year-old.
Opposing teams have had joy down this side against Arsenal, starting with Nathaniel Clyne on the opening weekend as Arsenal were turned over by Liverpool. Sadio Mane’s runs from out to in attracted the attentions of Nacho Monreal, leaving acres of space for Clyne to exploit. PSG pulled of a similar trick with Angel di Maria playing quite narrow and Serge Aurier bombing on outside of him. Mo Barrow has a fruitful day against Monreal for Swansea, as the Spaniard was left isolated. Spurs operate with a similar set-up; Erik Lamela tucked in to encourage Kyle Walker to overlap. Wenger might opt for the added pace of Kieran Gibbs to cover this, but the right flank is one area where Spurs might be able to work an advantage.