Tottenham have now been competing on a similar level to their North London rivals for a few years now, but they have yet to secure a convincing victory in a league game. In fact Arsenal have often come into these games as the team under pressure and left with a sizable victory. The last two league meetings, both at the Emirates, are excellent examples – Tottenham taking an early lead and looking exert their authority before capitulating and losing both games 5-2. Ultimately, while performances have led to many declaring Tottenham as having usurped Arsenal as North London’s best, the derby matches often show Arsene Wenger’s side as being better equipped to perform under pressure.
This match is no different to previous encounters. Before the reverse fixture in November Arsenal were being written off whilst Tottenham under Andre Villas-Boas were gaining momentum, but an early red card for Emmanuel Adebayor ruined a gameplan and chances of victory. Tottenham, led by the increasingly brilliant Gareth Bale, continue to impress, whilst Arsenal continue to confound, although it is telling that such contrasting fortunes are only separated by four points and two places in the league… (Read more)
European competition is often used as a measure of a league’s strength. Champions Manchester City’s early exit in the Champions League didn’t bode well for the Premier League’s claim to be the world’s best, and other clubs have done little to dispel this as anything other than a myth. Manchester United defied doubters to avoid defeat away to Real Madrid and Tottenham secured the draw required to seal an aggregate victory against a competitive Lyon side, but Newcastle and Chelsea laboured against moderate opposition. Liverpool fought in vain to overturn a first leg deficit against Zenit St. Petersburg, whilst Arsenal were utterly outclassed by Bayern Munich… (Read more)
Arsenal’s demise from a European force to a club hanging on to European qualification via the Premier League has been well documented. Much of the blame is attributed to the quality of the players and manager Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy. Both are entirely reasonable assessments, but they ignore an important feature of the club’s evolution in recent years. Arsenal’s trophy-winning years seemingly dried up after the departures of stars like Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, but Wenger’s tactical changes have been just as damaging… (Read more)
The two teams come into this game with vastly differing fortunes. Arsenal’s defeat in the FA Cup to Championship side Blackburn leaves the Champions league as their only viable option of silverware, while Bayern have a fifteen point lead at the top of the Bundesliga have a 100% competitive record in 2013 with a goal difference of 13-0.
Arsene Wenger has rarely ventured too far from his favoured 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3 formation, and has the opportunity to select his first choice front six following the return of Mikel Arteta from injury. Wenger has the option of moving Jack Wilshere into the advanced midfield position in place of Santi Cazorla to offer more solidity, but given that Arsenal are at home it is more likely the Spaniard will continue as the central playmaker. With Kieran Gibbs injured and Nacho Monreal cup-tied Thomas Vermaelen is likely to play at left full back. Jupp Heynckes also has few selection problems, and can pick his first choice XI. With Bayern Munich flying in the Bundesliga Heynckes can select his usual 4-2-1-3, with Toni Kroos’ positioning in central midfield determining the away side’s ambition.
The tactical match-up is likely to centre on the respective midfield triangles and the positioning of the wide forwards… (Read more)
Two teams desperate for some form with only one league victory between them in 2013. Arsenal will face a completely different challenge to the midweek draw with Liverpool, who pressed intelligently and counter attacked with purpose. They will also be short at left back, with Kieran Gibbs injured, Andre Santos seemingly departing and new signing Nachos Monreal unlikely to be thrown straight in, so Thomas Vermaelen may move across from centre back with Laurent Koscielny coming in. In contrast Stoke face another opponent with a contrasting style of play, but are unlikely to reuse the 3-5-2 system that was implemented against Wigan. Tony Pulis likes his team to be aggressive against the top sides, but their recent record against Arsenal suggests a defensive gameplan aimed at denying the home side space… (Read more)
Two managers committed to strongly held tactical preferences that is likely to result in a 4-2-1-3 vs a 4-1-2-3, meaning parity in midfield and a spare man for both defences. Both managers have options – Wenger could take a defensive approach by moving Cazorla from midfield, Rodgers could be aggressive and play Suarez in an advanced midfield role – but both are likely to stick to what they know… (Read more)
Everybody knows that Arsenal’s season will largely be defined by whether Robin Van Persie stays at the club. Despite Arsene Wenger’s early forays in the transfer market – bringing in Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and, more recently, Santi Cazorla – the level of influence Van Persie has had on Arsenal’s results over the last couple of seasons make it difficult to see how the forward can be adequately replaced. Van Persie’s importance to the side isn’t merely his ability or his goals, but his effectiveness as mobile target-man in Wenger’s 433 system… (Read more)