We at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at some of the reasons that saw Arsenal beat Tottenham 2-0 in the North London Derby on Saturday.
Tottenham had gone into the match on Saturday with perhaps a slight edge over Arsenal. But, Arsene Wenger & co. handed their North London rivals a lesson on the pitch, with the Gunners bullying Spurs all over the pitch, a thought shared by many including Manchester United legend and now a pundit, Gary Neville.
Suffice to say, Arsenal achieved the win with minimal fuss and we at The Hard Tackle attempt to cite a few reasons for the same.
The Sanchez-Ozil-Lacazette trio
Arsenal had been crying for a world class striker and when Alexandre Lacazette arrived, there was some relief. However, it soon turned to frustration as the French superstar often found himself on the bench, especially in the big games. The call to start Lacazette with the Sanchez-Ozil duo behind him in big games was finally heard by Arsene Wenger on Saturday.
When Arsenal start Sanchez, Ozil and Lacazette, they win 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/12NU62eNV2
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 18, 2017
And as has been the case in earlier instances of the trio starting together, the attack looked smooth with the triad, in tandem. Spurs were unable to handle the swift exchanges and the regular movement of Lacazette from the centre to out-wide and vice versa.
The fact that each one from the trio made a direct contribution to the match only goes to prove that they must start in big games. The match also saw the trio maintain a 100% win ratio whenever starting together and Arsene Wenger will have to start taking a serious look at his selection policy in the big matches.
Pochettino’s 3-5-2 gamble backfires
The thought behind the formation was not poor – crowd the midfield and restrict Arsenal’s ability to string together passes. As often is the case in big games, it is coined that the team that wins the midfield battle gains a major upper-hand in the match.
That wasn’t the midfield for playing possession with.
Dembele ill-suited to playing as the 6. Sissoko can’t control the ball.
Should have sat off more and played on the break.
Oh and so much for Mike Dean bias.
— Nathan A Clark (@NathanAClark) November 18, 2017
However, the choice of personnel contributed massively to the failure. Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko both are instinctively attacking players, which left Mousa Dembele as the only player in pivot – a prospect which left a lot of gaping holes in midfield and made it unbalanced.
The Winks-Sissoko dilemma
Another weird tactical gamble by Pochettino was his decision to opt for Moussa Sissoko over Harry Winks in central midfield. While Sissoko is more experienced, the player was played out of position and his attacking nature led to isolation of Dembele, which was exploited by Arsenal with great effect.
Also, Pochettino is often seen as a manager who puts his faith in youth, irrespective of the stature of the opposition. Harry Winks had absolutely dominated the midfield in two matches against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. The player could have surely been able to hold his own against Arsenal.
Even if not, Winks’ presence would have made the midfield more balanced and provided some support to Dembele, who looked like a lost soul without a proper partner.
All in all, it was a very tepid performance from Spurs, with Mauricio Pochettino’s woeful away record against big teams continuing. The manager though, could have put more faith in the youngsters and players like Son Heung-Min in stead of playing a half-fit Harry Kane, who really looked out of pace.