So here we are folks. A day I’ve been dreading for just under a week. The North London Derby. To say I’m not confident is an understatement.
We have no form. We have injuries. Some of the players have admitted they lack a bit of self belief at the moment. And we’re up against a side who before Wednesday had won six on the bounce in the league.
The Totts have a manager who is yet to lose a North London Derby in the league. He’s picked up two home wins, two away draws, which he’ll probably feel should have been three wins and a draw after the 1-1 draw earlier in the season. On that day the Spuds pressed us high, caught us cold and only a Kieren Gibbs goal after a Lloris mistake, saved our blushes.
The Spuds have added a consistency to their performances this season that has me worried. Pochettino has rotated his team to keep them fresh and the result is that they have been able to maintain their high intensity.
You don’t need to get up for a North London Derby, so I expect Tottenham will once again adopt the same tactic as they did at the Emirates and press us high. They will have also seen what United and Swansea did to us with a high press, as well as how the heads went down and the ideas ran out when Swansea got their second goal, so the Spuds are sure to absolutely come flying out of the blocks to get an early goal this lunchtime.
They rotated their full backs and rested Delli Alli on Wednesday, so will look to use that width and energy to get in behind our full backs, whilst the youngster in the middle of the park will look to exploit the inevitable massive gaps in our midfield to get some joy. If we are going to get anything from the game today, the keyword must be ‘discipline’, because if we lose our shape like we did against United, it’s going to get ugly and messy.
Arsène has to find something to get his players clicking. Wednesday was painful as soon as the second Swansea goal went in, so if/when we go behind, there has to be a reaction, a recognition from the players that the slim hopes of a title are fading away and they have to do something about it. Now. Ex-players have been saying all week that you shouldn’t need to be up for an NLD, but Arsène still has to prepare his team properly, he still has to look at ways of neutralising the opposition. Especially when our own strengths – so much a focus of Arsène when asked how he approaches a game – are so few and far between at the moment.
To win this game today, somethings gotta give, from a player form perspective. There are so many players who simply aren’t doing it at the moment, so if we’re to stand any chance of winning this game, one of Ramsey, Alexis, Giroud or dare I say it Theo, needs to have a great game. Mesut Özil alone won’t win today’s match. He needs others to step up.
I may be a bit doom and gloom right now, but come kick off, the hope will have set in and I’ll have everything crossed to see a good Arsenal performance. Surely there has to be one? We’ve been terrible pretty much throughout 2016 so far, so the law of averages says that at least one game has to go our way, no? Heh, look at me, I’m so deflated and devoid of confidence that I’m not looking at how we can win this match tactically, but how we can win a match based on chance.
Well, I think this truly is the team’s last chance, so maybe they will just go ‘all in’ and give it all to get the result. Stranger things have happened I suppose. Swansea beat us on Wednesday with only two shots on target. Maybe we could do that to the Spuds?
Come on Chris, snap out of this funk, because it doesn’t help anyone. We all need to get behind the team, shout in the stadium or on telly or wherever we’re watching, then hope for some sort of change in the tide.
Cross everything people. Everything.