Arsenal vs. Tottenham: How the Tactics Will Play out
The early kickoff this weekend in the English Premier League sees traditional North London rivalries resume.
Arsenal host arch-enemies Tottenham on Nov. 17 at 7:45 a.m. ET with both Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas-Boas likely feeling that a victory is vital.
It's not just about appeasing the fans this time, it's about establishing what your team is going to achieve this season.
With the Gunners down in eighth, anything but a win here could be an early sign that this will represent another disappointing season, while Spurs need to arrest a losing streak and show some consistency under AVB.
Wojciech Szczęsny should be set to relieve Vito Mannone of his duties in goal, while Theo Walcott's fitness looks promising. Jack Wilshere is back from his ban and should start, while Olivier Giroud is deserving of a place up front.
Jermain Defoe is subject to a late fitness test, but Emmanuel Adebayor has already put in a quality display against one of his former clubs this month. Aaron Lennon should be fine, but Moussa Dembele is definitely out.
Adebayor vs. Arsenal
Through the middle, this match has the making of a stalemate.
Santi Cazorla will likely be marked doggedly by Sandro and could well face the prospect of becoming a peripheral factor in this match, while Mikel Arteta may run out of killer pass options early on.
When Manchester City started to dominate at the Etihad last week, Spurs struggled to dig the ball out of their own defence.
Earlier in the game, Adebayor had served as a useful outlet and received 31 passes from his teammates. Defoe, who came on for a total of 16 minutes, received just four.
AVB could deploy Adebayor in a deeper role than normal whilst matching up against the Spaniard, giving him the physical advantage and bringing Gareth Bale into the game higher up the pitch.
This would negate Spurs' clear weaknesses in facing teams who out-possess them while stopping the service to Bale.
This is approaching what he did against City for 70 minutes, and the diagram gives an idea of Adebayor's role at the Etihad—little to no passes were directed his way in and around the City penalty area.
Attacking the wide areas
A game plan for Arsenal could be to attack the wide areas.
If Andre Santos plays, Arsenal will lose, but if Wenger continues with Thomas Vermaelen on the left side, it creates an intriguing but winnable battle between the Belgian and Lennon.
On the other side, Jan Vertonghen is still experiencing a learning curve in the left-back role AVB has asked him to deputise in, creating a potential mismatch against Walcott's pace.
If the two wide men can get Tom Huddlestone back-peddling, they've got a serious chance of overloading the midfield. Huddlestone is not mobile and doesn't really suit AVB's dynamic system, so dragging him all over the pitch is a certifiable option to win.
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