Will the Arsenal players step up to the occasion? by Konstantin Mitov
This game is massive for us. Not just in terms of the north London bragging rights. This game could give us belief for the top 4 or slash every slim hope of getting there. We’ve had years and years where we just had the better team and this game wasn’t as big with the targets we had back in the day.
Now though it’s massive, because Tottenham are a team on the up, with a squad full of good young players and a good young manager, and on top of that, they are in front of us in the table. They have had two good results in a row against United and Liverpool, so we’ll need to put out everything we have to ruin their day.
We’ve been the masters of our downfall this season. We’ve lost 15 points from winning positions, more than any other top 6 team and recent away games like Swansea and Bournemouth don’t help our cause on the road. It’s not obvious to pin-point our defensive record as the major weakness in the squad.
In the reverse fixture we took them down 2:0 and it was the best performance we’ve put this season in my opinion. We were disciplined, we pressed them, we were first to every ball, strong in our tackles and we isolated Kane from the game which made them look toothless. Will we do this again?
Our away form suggests different, and if you look back at our away games, you see how our midfield hardly ever protects the back 3 or 4 which leads to teams creating lots of chances – and with a lot of players having somewhat of a free midfield role, who will take the responsibility to drag the team back when it has to?
Granit Xhaka’s form has been awful and I think he should be dropped for Ramsey and Wilshere to start, but I hardly see Wenger doing this. Xhaka and Cech are the two people who’ve made the most individual errors leading to a goal in our net, and Wenger will likely start both if Petr is available.
Another person I’m desperate for us to drop is Iwobi, who will most likely start this game too. The formation will be interesting, but I think we should go with 4 at the back because as we see this season, it’s not just the formation that is the problem to our defence.
We’ve shown incredibly poor match management in games where we’ve taken the lead, as well as not that much character to come back from going behind. I am most afraid of conceding early and completely abandoning our game plan. I’d rather let them have the ball and hit them on the counter.
Up front we have pace, and Mkhi and Ozil will be loving the opportunity to play Aubameyang through and remember Wembley is huge, so we can use the pitch to our advantage. Also the Gabon striker has a good record against Spurs and I’m hoping it will continue.
I wonder if the players will rise up to the occasion, because far too often away from home we’ve looked like we don’t care and our away results at the big 6 aren’t all that pretty. We beat Chelsea over 2 legs when a cup final was on the line, but this game is a bit like a top 4 final, as it will be for every other league game with our position and points deficit.
It’s business time of the season. After Spurs we have the Europa League and 2 games against City and if we lose tomorrow it’ll easily erase all the positivity Auba and Mkhi have given us so far. I don’t really feel too confident, because I don’t know which Arsenal will turn up and I can’t see our defence keeping a clean sheet, so we’ll have to score. Hopefully we’ll do it more times than them!