Arteta needs to choose toughness over technique against Tottenham

Put Toughness Over Technique BY Dan Smith

Your best players are not necessarily the right players. If I asked you who you really rely on to roll up their sleeves today against Tottenham and fight for the shirt, I would insist that list is short?

Who can you honestly trust this week in training to be hurting, and who cares enough about the badge to insist to their teammates that they cannot let Tottenham rub our faces into the mud?

It’s a reminder yet again of the lack of leaders we have.

Talent-wise, of course you consider the finishing ability of a Aubameyang, or the set piece delivery of a Willian. Yet the North London Derby takes a certain characteristic. Arteta wouldn’t be brave enough to do it but I would give preference to the few mentally tough players over technique.

Not one player, even our captain, could complain if they were dropped for this fixture. Most teams who had produced the last three performances we did wouldn’t keep repeating the same line up.

Jose loves beating us more than anyone else and trust me his squad are not fearing us. Tottenham have just put out two vintage Jose masterclasses at home to Man City and at Chelsea, so they will confidently believe they can out-think us.

Therefore it might be worth something different just to keep them guessing…

Ironically, In terms of trusting individuals to fight for the shirt, a Torreira, Guendouzi and Sokratis would have been perfect for this occasion. If nothing else, you never doubt that any will give 100 percent. The trio, though, can’t be selected, a questionable decision given we are 14th.

Players who are often derided like Elneny, Mustafi and Kolasinac I would actually consider, as they don’t get intimidated easily and you can trust their work rate.

Xhaka is often an easy scapegoat but I have faith in him for these type of fixtures as he doesn’t shy away from things. Even if he gives away possession (which he often does), he will still demand the ball and attempt a Hollywood pass.

Obviously, our academy graduates should understand the depth of feeling against Tottenham and the meaning of this fixture, but in my opinion Willock and Nelson are yet to prove in the League they are good enough for this level.

In the semi Final and Final of the FA Cup, Maitland-Niles proved he can follow a specific tactical instruction. For a one off I would play him in front of Bellerin to protect our full back, who often gets targeted.

As for up front.

Lacazette is more important than Auba simply due to his work rate. Both have not been clinical in front of goal, but even when Laca is poor he guarantees a certain amount of graft. Our skipper on the other hand if he’s not scoring is invisible, like we are down to 10 men.

From last Christmas to the end of the season, Arteta had his striker pressing from the front and even tracking back.

Since his new contract we simply pick Auba on reputation, not based on anything he’s done this season.

When he got his pay rise, he spoke about following in the footsteps of a Adams, Wright or Henry (lines Adidas wrote for him). Why Auba will never be a legend is; those names, no matter the form of the team, you wouldn’t doubt if they would show up for the Tottenham Derby.

Arsene Wenger always said the sign of a great player was not what they did when the team were doing well, but what do you do when things are going wrong..

My XI (Assuming Partey is not fit)

Gabriel Luiz Tierney
Bellerin Kolasinac
Maitland-Niles Xhaka Elneny Auba

Who would you pick to play against Tottenham?


Tags tottenham


    1. I’ll go for

      Assuming partey isn’t fit.

    2. Think you make a lot of sense but cant just list defensive players and have a team or win games wich takes to score.

      Auba and laca alone wont be enough to stay in their half but 9 players defending.

      We would be under attack constantly, we must attack a’d gun them down, defend all together, harrasd them all game long, control game and pmay our speef & passing football. If Partey injuref:

      bellerin Gabriel Mustafi Tierny
      Elneny Niles
      Nelson – Auba – Saka

      Nelson Saka laca will defend harrass as Niles & Elneny. But also all rundown on Spurs.

      He id going to play Luiz, Ceballos, Willian but shojld not any. Once he does team is messed up.

  1. Admin Pat
    In your back three I’d reverse Gabriel & Luiz, Gabby being left footed & Luiz more effective on the right, and surely there must be an alternative to Kolasinac. I can just imagine if Spurs were to play Bale on that side…he’d make him his bitch. It’s one of those times I think Ainsley must play there instead of midfield.

      1. Can you just imagine it Sue?😱 A complete horror story, with bones, pieces of flesh & offal left on the Spurs pitch.

  2. Dan…

    Never a dull moment reading your articles!

    I would suggest a balance between technique and “toughness”, since different areas may require one above the other.

    First, I would stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation, and then I would prefer toughness in the midfield above all, thus suggesting AMN and Elneny in the absence of Partey. I totally agree that Xhaka and Cebalos is a recipe for failure on all accounts (my opinion). The three attackers ahead of them must all be ball holders and great passers, with strong ball-advancing capabilities.

    Summarily, my pick will be:

    Bellerin Holding Gabriel Tierney
    Elneny AMN
    Nelson Cebalos Saka

    I look forward to a great game, above all, attitude and whoever wants it more on the pitch will win the game.

    Stay safe!


  3. Could be a big score today. We need to park bus and do counter attach. Maitlan Niles has to play today. Gives defensive option and width going forward.

    If it were me, I’d pack the whole midfield, 4-4-1-1. Leave only two main attackers like Saka behind Auba, close together.
    Niles–Elneny–Partey (if fit)–Cedric

    This will give direct attack down the three channels, and give defensive cover. On the sides with Niles and Cedric.

  4. What’s this three@ the back I am seeing here..The system causes confusion in the Arsenal set up. The likes of Tierney n Niles forgets their position when we revert to 433 in another match
    Line up for this MUST WIN match!!
    Bellerin Holding Gabriel Tierney
    Ceballos Maitland Miles
    Nelson Lacazette Aubameyang

    This Derby is gonna be won by wins the Midfield Royal rumble..Ndombele, Sissoko, Holberg, Harry-winks vs Elneny, Niles n Ceballos!!
    Also going to be won by who converts half chances!! Any Arsenal win for me FULLY DEPENDS on Lacazette!! We better pray dis French Lampost striker delivers today!!

  5. Fire, I cannot agree with “whoever wants it more” in THIS derby, as both will want it a great deal. It will come down to which is the better team and on that it does not look hopeful!

    1. Jon…

      I totally agree both teams want it a great deal, however, it is only on the pitch that such a desire can be truly shown. My statement was not just “whoever wants it more” from a derby perspective, but the ability to demonstrate such on the pitch.

      Again, you are correct in saying “it will come down to which is the better team..”, but I am not convinced that the opposition are outrightly superior. Undoubtedly, their twin attackers are clinical, and that has been the main difference between both teams.

      Jon, the opposition will definitely give us the ball and hope to spring counters, and for that reason, I would prefer ball holders in our attack.

      I have no doubt that if Son can be quieten by specifically keeping an AMN watch over him in the midfield, and a Gabriel to strap him in the defence, we will come out victorious!

      I am positive Jon! Are you?

      Stay blessed!


      1. FIRE NO I AM NOT POSITIVE, IF YOU MEAN HOPEFUL. I fear Spuds have the better all round team and as desire will likely be equal on thr poitch it comes down to which is thre better team My original post stands!

        As I actually post this is is hlftime , we are 2 -0 down and need a miracle, which I do not envisage. I remain, as ever, a realist. I do however agree with your tactical analysis but our forwards compared to theirs are a joke.

        1. Jon…

          Sad loss, and I can understand why you are not positive, nevertheless, being hopeful is worthwhile enough.

          I totally agree with you that our forwards are not compared to theirs, and it becomes difficult to build any momentum at the moment.

          Further, I must confess that the choice of certain players must be thoroughly reconsidered, particularly when it is clear that the opposition would adopt a low block. I hope Arteta learns and be ruthless going forward in the choice of his starting eleven.

          Its gloomy times, and it is difficult to convince anyone otherwise, however, we are where we are, and the best tonic remains to be positive, or in the least, remain hopeful!

          Do have a blessed week ahead!


  6. Your selection has some steel but not enough to outclass Spurs.

    Aubameyang, Lacazette,

    Kolasinac, Xhaka, Elneny, M-Niles, Bellerin,

    Tierney, Gabriel, Luiz,


    It is actually not a bad selection, though.

  7. If Arteta goes with a back 3 and we concede possession to them we’ll lose. I would go with a 4-2-1-3 live Wolves used against us.
    Bellerin. Luiz. Gabriel. Tierney
    AMN. Elneny
    Saka. Laca. Auba

    AMN and Elneny can battle for 90 minutes in midfield and Ceballos over Willian for me as a 10. Fingers cross and butt puckered; maybe we get 3 pts. Anything but getting played off the pitch again.

    1. Durand…

      I totally agree with you! In my analysis, a 3-4-3 is not necessary since I am convinced the opposition will not outplay us in terms of possessing the ball, and for that, it will be wasteful to apply a 3-4-3.

      I am so glad you also saw the need to play Cebalos down the middle of attacking three. It seems we share a similar philosophy in that regard *smiles*.

      I didn’t go for Auba down the wings as you did, because I would suggest we need extra width with Saka and Nelson down the wings. I would love to see Laca, but I am not confidence he can boss the opposition’s midfield playing from a deeper role, nevertheless, he can always be brought in when we have subdued the opposition.

      I am positive!


      1. Fire
        I enjoy your comments on the forum; you put thought into your opinions, debate others without insults or belittling them, and are one of the most open-minded people here.
        Glad we share similar opinion on Ceballos as a 10; he brings more steel and defending than any others. I’d love to see AMN and Partey behind him if all are available.

        1. Durand…

          Thanks so much for your kind compliments! I really appreciate it!

          It was a sad day again following the loss to Tottenham. It is difficult to argue for positivity, but we remain positive! We will turn the curve, though the evidences are weak, but we will!

          I was sure before the game that Spurs would submit possession to us and try to hit us on the counter and that was why I felt a 3-4-3 wasn’t necessary.

          I hope some athleticism returns to the midfield going forward, and that lies at the doorstep of Arteta. I trust he is a learning fellow, and I believe he will learn going forward.

          Sad night, but we won’t lose hope! Positivity will always win!!

          Stay safe!


    2. Arteta is too inexperienced and it is really showing. To cut out Guendouzi, Saliba, and Ozil through grudges, was hubris. There is ALWAYS a fall after hubris. Arteta was good under PEP, but Arteta cannot import PEPs style because our players are not good enough. If we don’t sort this out we will suffer more and more. We cannot leave it.

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