Saturday September 27th
5:30pm Kick Off
Arsenal V Spurs
So with the Capital Cup over for another season it`s back to the serious work in the league. I thought despite a fairly cagey opening twenty minutes against Villa where the entire 1-to-11 looked nervous, we settled well into the game and gave an assured performance. It was great to see Ozil back in the middle of the park where he belongs and he reminded us all of just what a talent he is with an excellently taken goal and also a great cross that allowed Welbeck to open his Arsenal account.
Two further positives from Ozil last week was first the stories going around the interweb that he asked Wenger to play him centrally against Villa. And secondly he came out very forcibly in his praise for the movement of Welbeck and how having a fast, mobile and willing centre forward makes his job a lot easier. While that`s a bit of a kick in the teeth to Giroud (let`s be honest with ourselves here fast and mobile he aint) I think it`s important that Ozil becomes more vocal both on and off the pitch. And if it takes a few awful performances on the left wing for him to assert himself with Wenger and with the team in general than I`m happy with that. Ozil needs to remember that Wenger turned down re-signing Fabregras because of his faith in Ozil`s ability. The fans have, in general, been quite patient with him but I think we are at the stage that he needs to not only up his performances but start actually leading the team. Arguably he`s the best #10 in world football so the entire team should be dancing to his beat. Becoming more vocal is a step in the right direction, but if he wants to be the orchestra leader than he needs to take up the baton!
Spurs come to the Emirates on Saturday evening on the back of some average to poor displays in the league of late. Five games in have harvested seven points which finds that just above the halfway mark in ninth. After winning their opening two games (a somewhat lucky win away to West Ham and a hammering of the hapless QPR at home) they`ve struggled losing heavily at home to Liverpool, throwing away 3 points by drawing at Sunderland and then last Saturday putting in a simply awful performance in the 0-1 home loss to bottom club WBA. While it`s not a critical factor it`s worth noting that they last won in the league over a month ago (24th August). But we should also note that they are only two points behind us. At this early stage of the season a win or a loss can make a huge difference in outlook!
Lloris will continue in to impress in goal for them. I was surprised that no big team came in for him during the summer and even more surprised that he signed a contract extension at the club. He`s a good keeper but he`s overworked at Spurs. He deserves to be playing CL football so I can`t see him at Spurs beyond the end of this season. He can be a tad erratic on crosses and does have a tendency to sometimes charge out of his goal but he`s an excellent shop stopper and has great reflexes.
In front of him things get a bit tricky. Kaboul is club captain so you`d imagine he will start but as to who starts alongside him is anyone`s guess. I suppose it`s a take your pick between Chririches, Vertonghen or new signings Fazio and Dier. Selection wise Pochettino has been chopping and changing it a bit at the back I presume trying to limit the impact the Europa league has on his squad or maybe he is simply trying to find his best first eleven. All these changes had made for an unsettled back line that has been giving up chances. Appointing Kaboul as club captain for me was an odd choice, as highly as I rate Kaboul he has two factors that make him unsuited for the role; first of all he misses a lot of games thru injury and secondly he`s never been the most vocal of players. I think him getting the nod was a slap in the face to Vertonghen who may have expected to get the armband (despite his quite frankly appalling lack of effort and desire last season). I`ve a feeling that Vertonghen will start. With Walker currently out injured Poc has been favouring playing Dier out of position on the right instead of the more obvious Naughton. Naughton has a lot of flaws as a top class right back but he`s still better than Dier, who`s positional sense and lack of pace is brutally exposed so I can only assume that the manager is trying to make a point here. Rose or possibly Davis will make up the left back position. Davis still looks like he`s finding his feet at his new club but it`s fair to say that for ten million pounds or so the fans have a right to expect more from him. Despite letting in only 6 goals in 5 league games their defence is all over the place. They lack pace at the back, are undisciplined from a positional aspect and despite the club captain playing there they lack leadership and organization. If Alexis starts he will have a field day cutting in from either wing. I simply cannot see them keeping a clean sheet.
Midfield wise they play (like Pochettino did at Southampton) a holding 2 supporting an attacking 1 in a 4-2-3-1 type formation. Capoue will most certainly be one of the holding two with quite possible Dembele alongside him. Capoue is a strong holding midfielder but has zero pace, and I mean quite literally zero. Dembele is a frustrating footballer in that he has the talent and does produce on occasion but simply doesn`t produce enough and is a player that hides when the going gets tough. I`m not sold on him in the middle of the park and feel if you want to play him then you simply have to push him further forward. Paulinho is an option but his total lack of fight would be a worry in a local derby. Erikson currently occupies the attacking midfield role and while he`s been a big disappointment for me this season I still feel that he has immense ability. His lack of pace is a problem and questions are starting to be asked as to whether he has it in him to succeed in the frantic PL or if maybe football in Spain or Italy might suit him better. Give him time on the ball and he`ll kill you, but put pressure on him and he`ll shrink, force him out on the wings and he`ll disappear completely. As a middle 3 they are pretty underwhelming and really there is nothing there that we should be too worried over.
Up front they play the unpredictable Ade supported on either side by Lamella and probably Chaldi. Both Chaldi and Lamella are more naturally #10s and like to play behind the striker so both like to come inside. This leaves them exposed on the wings and also makes them very narrow as a team and easy to defend against. Ade, (thankfully for us), seems to be in the middle of one of his “I don`t particularly care” phases. As we well know these can last for months at a time during which Ade will contribute pretty much nothing to the team. The problem for Spurs is that they have no one to replace him with. Soldado looks less and less like a professional footballer with each game and Kane is too young (admittedly with potential) to really be effective. Lennon is an option for either Lamella or Chaldi and while Lennon would certainly stay wide and would offer a great deal more protection for the left/right back he`s not exactly known for his end product. The less said about Townsend as an option the better.
You look at that Spurs team and take Erikson out of it and you really struggle to see them creating much. Both Lamella and Chaldi have looked bright in spots but neither offer consistency and seem to have the fight taken out of them all too easily. In times past you could always argue for a few Spurs players that would take their place in a combined Arsenal/Spurs eleven but not anymore. Lloris is the only one I`d take now. I think that the constant change of managers at the club combined with the near mythical levels of players sold/bought has taken the heart out of the club. Too many players have no ties to the club and the manager and the players seem to play as if they know that they won`t be there in twelve months time. While change can be a good thing there is a lot to be said for stability in a club, Spurs are living proof of what happens when you are in a constant state of flux.
I look at the game and I can only see one outcome and that`s a convincing Arsenal win. The two clubs are poles apart and the gap is widening each year. I predicted Spurs to come 6th when the season started and so far it`s only the abject performances from Liverpool, Everton and United that have stopped me adjusting that to 7th or 8th. Something is not right at the heart of their club and if I was a Spurs fan, I`d be worried about some very dark times ahead.
Our pace in the middle of the park and at the front will simply tear them apart and local derby or not they have nothing on us.
Convincing and dominate Arsenal win 3-0.
Scout Report: Spurs
Saturday September 27th