The North London Derby

Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham, this game had it all. It started with team selection, many questioned Pochettino’s use of the diamond in midfield and Davinson Sánchez at right back. However, Emery also got questioned for his team selection as Xhaka started and Ceballos was left on the bench and despite starting three defensive midfielders, Arsenal’s defence had no protection.

Out of the three midfielders, Xhaka grabbed the headlines but for the wrong reasons as he gave away a penalty and had a poor game. Torreira looked like he was struggling as Emery had him playing in a box-to-box role which the Uruguayan has always looked uncomfortable in. Matteo Guendouzi had a standout game as he did the running for his two midfield partners and grabbed an assist whilst completing 5 tackles and interceptions.

Whilst in Tottenham’s midfield, Harry Winks had a lack of defensive support from his teammates. Sissoko looked porous whilst Eriksen and Lamela know their strengths lie in the final third. This meant that Winks had to clean up for all of the midfield’s mistakes that led to Arsenal attacks, this is backed up by Harry’s 6 tackles. Whilst also mopping up, Winks kept play ticking over as he had a 94% pass accuracy which shows he had a quietly good game at the base of the midfield diamond.

Going back to Arsenal, Luiz and Sokratis. Out of the pair, Luiz gets more hate with some coming unfairly. Luiz got a lot of the blame for Tottenham’s opener, but it was Sokratis going for the ball and getting it wrong. After the ball bounces of Sokratis, Luiz should have the experience and knowledge that he should hold his position and stay in the back line as his partner has stepped out. As soon as Luiz steps out of the line, Son looked sure to bypass the Brazilian. This partnership at the back for Arsenal doesn’t work as both want to be the defender that steps out of the line to win the ball back. Bernd Leno is also to fault for the goal as he saved Son’s initial shot but parried the ball into the path of Eriksen for an easy tap in however after this, Leno did pull off some good saves.

Lacazette’s goal was another main talking point. The Frenchman’s work inside the box is exceptional whilst possessing the power to drop in between the lines to link up play and bring the wide players, Pépé and Aubameyang, into play like Firmino does for Liverpool. Like the Brazilian, Lacazette is also a good defensive forward which highlights his all-round game. The Frenchman took 6 shots with 5 coming from inside the area as he shows the benefit of him playing down the middle. The problem with the former Lyon striker playing down the middle is that Aubameyang can’t play there with Pépé in the team unless they play with a diamond in the midfield which would ask a lot from their full backs.  If Aubameyang played down the middle, he would probably score more goals than Lacazette but would mean the front three as a whole would suffer.

José Mourinho, when speaking for Sky Sports, said “I think Aubameyang probably he likes to play in the middle because he feel if he’s in the middle he can score more goals. But maybe he can score as many goals playing from the left. What happens at Liverpool is Firmino drops back, drops in between the lines, and then he gives more space for Salah and Mané to attack these diagonals. I would see Aubameyang playing on that left side of Liverpool and scoring a lot of goals.” the Portuguese got many talking with these comments. He is basically saying if Arsenal set their front three up like Liverpool with Lacazette in the Firmino role, Aubameyang will score as many as if he played centrally without the detriment of the other forwards.

Arsenal had more possession, 55% compared to Spurs’ 45%, this led to the Gunners taking twice as many shots as the Lily Whites. With their 26 shots, Emery’s side put eight on target compared to the nine Tottenham put on target from their 13 shots. This would suggest that although Arsenal created more chances, Tottenham were more diligent with the ball and created higher quality chances as they also hit the woodwork. However, with half of Arsenal’s shots coming from inside the area and five of Tottenham’s coming from inside the box, this would suggest Tottenham were just better at shooting on the day.

According to xG, the game ended 2.03 to 1.93 in favour of Arsenal, so a 2-2 draw was the fair result. Despite this, Tottenham fans will feel hard done by as they had a strong penalty shout towards the end of the game when Sokratis brought down Kane in the box and they were in complete control before Rose tried to take Luiz on instead of clearing the ball and losing it which led to Arsenal’s first goal just before half time.

No matter the result, this was a derby that was action packed with sparks flying as there were eight yellow cards. However, this is surley one to remember for Tottenham fans as Harry Kane became the equal all-time top goal scorer in this fixture along with Adebayor.

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