A good win for Tottenham over their rivals and one that keeps up Arsenalai??i??s bad start to the season.

Here are a few tactical points from the game:

The Role of the Wide Players

 

Fielding Van Der Vaart on the right for Tottenham had both benefits and problems. The main benefit was his positioning when Tottenham had the ball. His central positioning caused a lot of problems partly because his runs were very high up the pitch, almost becoming a forward at points. Because of this, the centre backs, Mertesacker and Song struggled to cope with three players running around them (VDV and the two strikers) particularly as Defoe and Adebayor were often running between them and the full backs.

The problem with his position though was that he struggled to deal defensively with Gibbs at left back. Particularly in the second half, the overlapping runs were stretching Tottenham and Van Der Vaart either didnai??i??t deal with this particularly well or because of his attacking positions, he was often a long way away from that side if Spurs lost the ball in that area. This gave Gibbs the freedom to get forward quickly.

His positioning was in stark contrast to that of Gareth Baleai??i??s. The Welshmanai??i??s biggest strength is his turn of pace but this is often in straight lines and he struggles when angling his run inside. Indeed, when he did turn inside during the game he often looked short of ideas and Arsenal generally did well to contain him when this happened. Thatai??i??s why he spent most of the game in a very wide position on the left. He was at his best towards the end of the game when counter attack was becoming more prominent in the play of both teams, whereas Van Der Vaart was much more involved in the first half than he was in the second.

But it wasnai??i??t just Tottenhamai??i??s wingers that were interesting. Gervinho and Walcott in the wide positions for Arsenal initially looked on paper to be of a similar tactical nature to Tottenham. One cutting inside and getting involved centrally with the forward play and one staying wide and using their pace to run at the full back. In fact both cut inside a lot! This was partly to cause an overload in the final third and partly to create space for the full backs Gibbs and Sagna, who were both very high up the pitch for most parts of the game. Gervinho and Walcott also swapped positions 3 or 4 times during the match although Gervinho did better than Walcott on the left because his link up play with Van Persie was much better.

The Full Back Play for Arsenal

As already said, both Gibbs and Sagna were playing very attacking roles during the match. Both created overlaps and generally got very high up the pitch. In possession this was great for Arsenal. It meant that they could stretch Tottenhamai??i??s midfield, which they did very well, and therefore made much better use of their extra man in midfield. In truth their spreading of the play was very good and the fact that they created gaps to dominate Tottenhamai??i??s midfield area and circulate the ball well was promising for them throughout the game. The positioning of Gibbs and Sagna in this was key and it meant that Spurs couldnai??i??t go as compact as they would have liked in midfield and also meant that Gervinho and Walcott could try and link up with Van Persie while the full backs stretched the play.

The con for this was the amount of space it left for Spurs to exploit. Adebayor in particular was often running behind Gibbs and this meant that the centre backs had to come across to cover for this.

The first goal came because of this. Gibbs ended up tracking Van Der Vaartai??i??s central run, leaving Adebayor space to run into on the right hand side, dragging the centre back with him. He found Van Der Vaart who had made a diagonal run in behind the space left by Sagna who was slow getting back.

Arsene Wenger possibly could have done with dropping Coquelin in to make a back three in possession so that they had more cover and so the centre backs had license to move wider. However this never happened, although losing Coqeulin out of midfield would have affected the ability to dominate there.

Link Up Play from Midfield into Attack was Sloppy from Arsenal

When playing a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 itai??i??s always important that one of the central midfielders links up play with the main striker. You see this with Barcelonaai??i??s play with Iniesta generally the one from midfield speeding up the play between the lines and turning the possession phase into an attacking phase. Even looking at Valenciaai??i??s game with Chelsea on Wednesday, Canales put in a superb performance by linking the deep play from Banega and Albelda into the play higher up the pitch. This role is of vital tactical importance because if you canai??i??t link the play well, the midfield and attack either becomes separated or the circulation of the ball slows down or moves stop. The player with the license in this role has to perform it well.

In this game the player in this role was Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman was generally the furthest ahead of the centre midfield three and because Coquelin and Arteta excelled in their deeper, passing roles, his play was vital. Unfortunately his play was sloppier than it has previously been.

He didnai??i??t make many massively noticeable mistakes; his pass completion rate was 83%, fairly decent for an attacking midfielder. However his play was slightly laboured at points and though his movement was excellent his general link up play often slowed Arsenal down or broke down moves. This was especially noticeable in the first half when Arsenal had a lot of possession and dominated in midfield but couldnai??i??t create in the final third. Some of this was to do with the fact that Tottenhamai??i??s back four remained fairly compact and kept space tight around there. However as weai??i??ve seen with Man City this season, play between the lines is so key to creativity and if you can shut off that area then the opposition will struggle. Tottenham hadnai??i??t shut off that area; their midfield had been stretched and Arteta and Coquelin were dominating from deep. It was just that Ramseyai??i??s play was not as good as weai??i??ve come to expect.

The Article was written by Guest Author – Jonny Mullins, follow his blog here and his twitter account here.

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2 Responses to “Tottenham 2 – 1 Arsenal: Tactical Points From The North London Derby”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. k10 says:

    hahahahaha, Quite a straight forward with not much content in it.
    I wonder How can anyone write an article on yesterday’s Spurs-Arsenal match and not mention the role of Scott Parker even one bit?

  2. Mark says:

    @k10

    It was perfectly good article in my opinion, making a few sensible tactical observations.

    And because it’s a tactical article, it doesn’t need to say “oh look how good Parker was!” because that has no relevance in a tactical way.