Premier League Match Abstract: Arsenal 2, Spurs 2

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Premier League Match Abstract: Arsenal 2, Spurs 2 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Tue Sep 3, 2019 9:14 pm

  1. The infamous number is 15: that’s how many points Tottenham have taken in their last 15 matches. Mauricio Pochettino blamed the early close of the Premier League transfer window and speculation surrounding Christian Eriksen for unsettling the dressing room. After all, this was a side that relied upon chemistry and togetherness to overcome two transfer windows without any additions last season.
  2. Both teams are coming off of losses from the previous week, but under different circumstances. Arsenal’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool was expected, while Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle was portrayed as another example of a side running out of options and magic.
  3. Much of the unresolved nature surrounding the team revolves around Pochettino himself. In the buildup to the match, he discussed how he’s turned down numerous offers to remain at Tottenham, patting himself on the back for displaying loyalty that is “more than what is normal.” He differentiated himself from his peers, highlighting the “circumstances” at Tottenham as compared to Liverpool or Arsenal. While many managers have their tactics in deflecting attention before important matches, Pochettino’s strategy is to go back to Tottenham’s lack of spending as a way to purposefully make his side the underdog and relieve pressure.
  4. The buildup to big matches always have a way to reveal the temperature behind the scenes. Unai Emery’s Arsenal are stable by comparison.
  5. Arsenal are going for a hardened, battling midfield with Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, and Matteo Guendouzi replacing Dani Ceballos’ nuances. With Tanguy Ndombele injured and Giovani Lo Celso on the bench, Pochettino heads into this match without either of his two big summer signings.
  6. Arsenal open the match immediately attacking Davidson Sanchez, who’s being played out of position at right back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang versus Sanchez is an obvious mismatch in speed.
  7. Arsenal continue to overload the left side with Sead Kolasinac forcing Moussa Sissoko to track back and help Sanchez.
  8. In addition to attacking down the left, Arsenal are settling into a mid-block when Tottenham are in possession to give their front attacking three of Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, and Alexandre Lacazette space to attack once they win the ball.
  9. But of course, with the rumors and controversy swirling, it had to be Eriksen who opens the scoring off of nothing. With Arsenal pressing high up the field off a Tottenham goal kick, Erik Lamela found enough space behind Arsenal’s backline to hit a weak shot that Bernd Leno fumbled right into Eriksen’s stride. Leno will rightly get the blame for the goal, but that sequence shows how much open space a disorganized press can leave behind.
  10. Looking at the replay, Sokratis’ positioning in losing out on a midfield header forced Ainsley Maitland-Niles to move from right back all the way across the field to cover Lamela. To double up on his mistake, Sokratis was too slow in tracking Eriksen’s run. Luiz also failed to slow down Son Heung-min’s dribble in the buildup. One mistake in positioning can throw an entire backline in disarray, opening up holes for late runners to exploit. Luiz and Sokratis were each reckless in trying to win a ball instead of covering space.
  11. Son gets free again on a counter, but his time, his shot is saved by Leno. That’s more like it from the Arsenal keeper, but again, Son had a ton of room to get off a shot once he cut inside.
  12. Tottenham are dominating possession in the minutes following the goal. The nature of the match - with Arsenal focusing on the wings and Tottenham quickly counter attacking - is completely bypassing both center midfields. Torreira is finally getting involved into the match 25 minutes in. And I also can’t remember Harry Winks or Sissoko contributing anything in attack.
  13. Danny Rose gets a yellow card off a goal kick sequence that involved Tottenham hurriedly passing the ball out of the box due to Pepe’s pressing. Pepe’s free kick ability is also a bonus to his playmaking and goalscoring.
  14. In comparing Arsenal’s counter attacks to Tottenham, Arsenal are sending hopeful, inaccurate passes to Lacazette or Pepe. Meanwhile, Tottenham have an extra link with Eriksen connecting play up the middle, a role that Ceballos could play in accurately unlocking Arsenal’s width in transition.
  15. Leno fails to fully push Harry Kane’s shot wide, putting Arsenal’s backline under pressure again. Minutes later, Leno punches Eriksen’s free kick away from danger. This is quite a wide range of goalkeeping technique on display.
  16. Tottenham win a penalty after Xhaka is late on a tackle on Son for no reason. Arsenal’s defending up the middle is too aggressive for its own good.
  17. Kane buries the penalty to go up 2-0. What crisis?
  18. Pepe gets off a shot just before half. And for all of their emphasis on the left side, Arsenal have found space through Maitland-Niles and Pepe on the right.
  19. Lacazette gets one back for Arsenal in injury time out of chaos. Guendouzi clears a 50-50 challenge straight to Pepe, catching Tottenham’s backline off guard. Pepe’s outside of the foot ball finds Lacazette, who finds just enough space to blast a left footed shot. That was obviously a much-needed goal to turn momentum right before half.
  20. And while we’ve focused on Leno’s weaknesses in punching the ball, Hugo Lloris has had some nervy moments in playing out of the back as the second half opens. Tottenham’s goal kick routine, featuring a short pass inside the box, are an adventure in themselves.
  21. In contrast to the first half, all Arsenal attacks are going through Pepe on the right wing, who’s then cutting in onto his left foot. They create a good chance with Torreira and Guendouzi moving up and exchanging passes inside Tottenham’s box.
  22. Ceballos comes on for Torreira, who grew into the match after a quiet start. Ceballos makes an instant impact forcing a save from Lloris. Emery again reinforces Arsenal’s midfield by subbing on Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Lacazette, who picked up an injury.
  23. Aubameyang redirects Guendouzi’s cross into the net to even the match. The goal came from a relatively safe situation with Arsenal playing the ball in front of Tottenham’s midfield. With that said, that Arsenal looked comfortable in possession is a result of putting two ball-playing midfielders into the match, so we must credit Emery for the structure of the goal. On Tottenham’s end, Jan Vertonghen just lost sight of Aubameyang’s diagonal run. Guendouzi played a good ball, but Tottenham had Arsenal in front of them the entire time during their buildup in what was a quiet, innocuous bout of possession.
  24. Through 70 minutes, Guendouzi is my Man of the Match. He’s winning challenges, tackling, passing, and driving Arsenal forward, all at age 20.
  25. Considering how it started, Sanchez not getting a yellow card for 77 minutes may be the most impressive part of this match.
  26. Pochettino reinforces his midfield by swapping Lo Celso for Son. Immediately after, Arsenal’s potential match-winning goal gets called back for offsides. And whether it be from Lo Celso’s structure or just a usual swap in momentum, Tottenham finally get to breathe with some possession.
  27. The game ends with both sides going end-to-end, with Sissoko blasting a loose ball high above net. Sissoko misses late in matches are becoming a thing.
  28. That makes 16 points in Tottenham’s last 16 matches. And although they blew a two-goal lead, this feels like a point earned for Pochettino’s side as they were able to hold off immense Arsenal pressure throughout the second half. As for Arsenal, they probably could have snuck in a third goal somewhere. Yet the lack of discipline from their centerback pairing and Leno’s flubs may end of costing the team a Champions League position this season - that is, if Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea are able to recover from their slow starts.

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