It’s North London Derby this weekend. What we’d all give to be present at The Emirates for this one.
Last time out, we killed ourselves early. Spurs had 5 attempts at our goal, put 3 on target, and scored 1. Their first goal was a 30-yard screamer after we let Son run at us on the counter. Their second came as part of a double whammy in which Thomas Partey broke down in midfield and Kane scored off the bar down our end.
It took Arsenal 5 games after that to register a win in the Premier League. Truly a miserable time for the ages.
So what will we have learned this time?
Well, the team we played was pretty strong last time out. We’ll likely have Xhaka and Partey pivoting again. Attack will be something different. I doubt we’ll see Auba and Lacazette starting together. I suspect we’ll see the two new additions that have changed the way we play for the better.
Emile Smith Rowe has to start. The question is whether he’s shunted out to the left again. I think he’s the better player there. I really like Odegaard, but I’m not sure he’s quite up to the speed of the league as it stands. He’s given away hospital passes in his last two games because of casual play and I don’t think he was what you’d call present to the levels we need… especially in a game like tomorrow. Thing is, he is more than competent playing as a wide attacker, and he generally boasts high levels of control… which tomorrow, is going to be absolutely vital, because Spurs are absolute vultures…
I’d love to see Nico start the game, but I have my doubts. Last time out at the toilet bowl we were mauled from 3 shots on target despite dominating possession. It was a typical Mourinho game. He’s going to let us do our thing tomorrow because he knows the odds are stacked against us not bringing pain upon ourselves. 7 of our 14 goals conceded this year have been of our own making. With a strong side on Thursday, we still managed to gift the Greeks 3 big chances unforced.
I think we’ll see Saka, Odegaard, ESR and WiIlian in attack. Jose will have a special plan for Saka… Spurs will be taking it in turns to smash him over in transition. Olympiacos did a great job brutalising him the other night, though I’m not sure I’d say they nullified him. The key tomorrow is getting him on the ball a bit higher up the pitch… though that’ll be hard to manage if we’re trying to keep our defensive structure strong.
Spurs are quite a simple unit. They depend on 3 exceptional players to put lipstick on an old pig of a system. When it works, everyone calls Jose a genius, when it fails, he’s a fraud.
Arsenal are not a simple unit. We’re better coached, have more interesting ideas, and we’re going further than them longterm. However, what our squad has that theirs does not is the self-destruct button.
When you build in the correct fundamentals, it’s only a matter of time before the correct outputs happen. The fundamentals are in place. The balance between and attack and defence is there. We are creating good chances. We’re limiting our opponents. The biggest problem we’re dealing with is unforced errors. Our players need to concentrate. They need to make better decisions. They need to leave every ounce of brainpower on the pitch tomorrow.
NLD is a toss of a coin. It’s usually fine margins, it’s usually an emotional wreck of a day, the winner will be crowned by who makes the least mistakes.
Arsenal FCs coaching staff have had this game pinned in the priority board for the last 6 weeks. Make no mistake, everything has been building to this game because it’s the Premier League Cup Final. Let’s be honest, it’s a huge deal for both managers as they look to extract positives from underwhelming campaigns. If Arteta wins this, and the whole project gets a huge lift and you’re looking at the Europa League with a different eye.
Lose? Not an option I’m afraid.
I genuinely can’t wait for this game. Two rivals with their best players on show going toe-to-toe. Should be an immense 90 minutes. Let’s hope we’re the fans crowing on the group chats.
Sorry there was no pod this Thursday. I don’t think I’ve ever been worked to hard in my life or more consequential things (first world consequential, I’m not distributing vaccines). It’ll be a patchy few weeks, but I’ll do my best.
P.S. I am on the warpath in the comments. Any of that ‘modern internet’ anti-Arsenal rhetoric on an Arsenal blog will be met by the full force of the law. I don’t care if you rate Mourinho, I don’t care if you’d like to see Arsenal lose to move on Arteta, this is a NLD and you’ll be treated like you would if you were spouting off against Arsenal in The Twelve Pins pre-game. This is an Arsenal paradise for the next 48 hours or so. See you there.