Excellent View From The Enemy – Why Tottenham will fear Arsenal’s new signings

This week’s View From The Enemy comes from the excellent SpursOdyssey website which has been going for even longer than JustArsenal and is well worth a visit if you want to know what’s going on with our biggest rival. So congrats to Paul Smith for his dedication. In this preview, he talks about Tottenham’s previous encounters with our new signings and the effect they have had on results, especially Aubameyang. Read on and enjoy…

Spurs know all about Aubameyang

Spurs know all about Arsenal’s January signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, having faced him and his goal scoring prowess four times in European competition in recent years. In March and April 2016, the Gabonese International (who will not be seen in Russia this summer) was part of the Dortmund side which destroyed us 3-0 at home and beat us 2-1 at White Hart Lane in the Europa League Round of 16. He scored once in the 3-0 and twice at The Lane. This season Aubameyang has still being scoring well for the German side, but he had his disagreements and had been suspended by the club for missing training before one of our games. Spurs also fared better despite his presence, winning at home and away this season in The Champions League. Aubameyang did score in our 2-1 away win.

Another high profile January signing, who came to Arsenal as part of the Sanchez move to Old Trafford, was Henrikh Mkhitaryan – another gifted International, who has the misfortune to play for a country (Armenia) who also haven’t made it to this summer’s World Cup. Mkhitaryan was generally given short shrift by Jose Mourinho, but he was also a prominent member of that 2015 Dortmund side which convincingly beat Spurs. Mkhitaryan did score the United goal in a 1-0 victory over Spurs at Old Trafford in December 2016. Hopefully Mauricio Pochettino and his team have learnt enough about both players to neutralise them tomorrow.

Arsenal were in good scoring form last week but hardly tested by an Everton side who lost 4-0 to us last month and 5-1 at The Emirates last Saturday. Arsene Wenger’s side might be in good scoring form at home at the moment, before and after the arrival of the former Dortmund stars, but their recent away Premier League form has been poor with two defeats and a draw, which has led to them losing ground on Spurs. Before their draw at West Brom just after Christmas the “Gooners” had been level on points with Spurs. Now they are four points behind and even a win will not improve their sixth place.

Arsenal have lost their last two away league games, and they were games they’d be expected to win against two sides (Bournemouth and Swansea) involved in the tight battle to avoid the drop this season.

This match has as high a profile as you could wish for from any “North” London Derby (Spurs fans should always put the “North” in inverted commas due to the origin of the opposition). A win would give us 7 points from three tough fixtures, and would put us in the top four at least until Monday and perhaps for longer. A win would make us odds on favourites to finish above our near rivals for a second successive season. Mr Wenger would then surely have to consider concentrating upon the Europa League path to the Champions League – just like Mourinho’s men last season.

Let’s not count chickens though, as anything could happen in such a hotly contested game. Whilst we seem to be in a cycle where both teams generally dominate in their respective home league games in these fixtures, it’s not that long since Arsenal won at The Lane. There was a league cup game in September 2015 and a home league defeat for Spurs in March 2014. It will be 8 years this year since we won the only game we have won at The Emirates with our previous Premier League away win as long ago as May 1993. Then, as now, Arsenal had a Cup Final to prepare for, although that was the FA Cup, and this year by beating Chelsea in the semi-final they have made it to a Wembley Carabao Cup Final meeting with Manchester City. There might be some away fans crowing about that, what with their three FA Cup wins in the last four seasons.

Harry Kane was on the bench on Wednesday night for the FA Cup replay against Newport, but was not used, so he – and most of those who will represent Spurs tomorrow – will be as fresh as any of the Arsenal players who have a had a full week off since their last game. Harry has scored 6 of his 100 Premier League goals against Arsenal, 4 of which have come in our last three home league games against our near rivals. Last year he converted a penalty after being fouled by Gabriel, after Dele Alli had put us into the lead in the 55th minute. They were two quick-fire goals which sealed victory AND a Premier League finish above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years.

Perhaps the most memorable Kane goal against Arsenal came two years ago after Dele had back-heeled a pass and Harry (sporting a mask to protect a facial injury) scored with a magnificent right foot curler. That game finished 2-2. The year before Harry had scored both our goals in a 2-1 win and he was well and truly established on the map as a high quality (and quantity!) goal scorer.

In his press conference this week Arsene Wenger was asked a question about Dele Alli’s booking for simulation last week, and in a not particularly well disguised dig at both Dele and Kane (who was also accused of diving by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk), Wenger said, “I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.” This is all a bit rich coming from the man who employed Pires a few years ago, and of course Thierry Henry who clearly cheated The Republic of Ireland out of World Cup qualification with a handball in 2009.

Wenger does recognise and appreciate Harry Kane’s undoubted skill and quality, and this game is going to be a battle between two sides with fine attacking quality. The deciding factor could be the strength and quality of the defence, and I make Spurs superior in that regard, especially now that Toby Alderweireld is back. Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier are all rested, as is Davinson Sanchez. With his fully fit squad does Mauricio Pochettino play 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3? I have a feeling that with Juventus coming up on Tuesday, we will have 4 at the back, and either Alderweireld or Sanchez will be held back. We’ll see.

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech is a doubt for this game, due to a calf injury sustained last week, but otherwise Arsenal could also have a fully fit squad with the exception of the unfortunate Santi Cazorla, who has not been able to play since October 2016 as I reported in my preview of this season’s away game. Cazorla’s injury could be career-ending.

Despite Arsenal’s optimism about a trip to Wembley where they do have a good record, I am feeling optimistic about Spurs and have predicted a win by the same scoreline as we had in the first official meeting between the two sides at Wembley. That was the 1991 FA Cup semi-final, and famous 3-1 featuring Gazza, Lineker and more! Despite the lunchtime kick-off tomorrow’s game is actually on BT SPORT, so at least TV viewers will be spared the comments of Sky co-commentator Alan Smith who scored the Arsenal goal in that ’91 game. There will be a massive crowd tomorrow, but because of “restricted” general sale rules I doubt we will see a full house, or a new Premier League record. I’ll be there and I can’t wait!

Match referee Anthony Taylor is well established on the Premier League circuit these days and has had charge of 17 Premier League games out of the 26 played so far. These include two Spurs games – both defeats – at home to Chelsea and away to Leicester, so it is time for him to break this season’s “Spurs” duck! According to my records, this is Mr Taylor’s first “North” London Derby game.

Tottenham’s last six games at Wembley…..


  1. Phil says:

    Typical view from a Spud.Also says at the end he predicts a 3-1 win he didn’t sound that confident.We can go there and feel confident as Mikki and Auba give us a massive edge up front.

  2. gotanidea says:

    If Spurs allocate two defenders to mark Aubameyang, Lacazette and Mkhitaryan could benefit by playing behind him. I know Wenger would most likely not start Lacazette and most probably uses 3-4-2-1, but I hope he would try 4-3-3:

    Bellerin . Koscielny . Mustafi . Monreal
    ……………..Ozil . Wilshere
    Nelson ………………………….Mkhitaryan

    Or 4-1-3-2:

    Bellerin . Koscielny . Mustafi . Monreal
    ……Mkhitaryan . Ozil . Wilshere
    ……Aubameyang …. Lacazette

    1. Durand says:

      Wenger not dropping Ramsey; he’s healthy ( for now) and is coming off hat trick.
      I prefer your 4-3-3 formation. I’d have Ramsey and Wilshire in front of ElNeny or a 4-2-3-1
      Bellerin. Kos. Mustafi. Sead
      Ramsey. Wilshere
      Mhki. Ozil. Lacazette

      We would have advantage in attack, but our defense is suspect. Unfortunately defense is suspect anyway regardless. Pace hurts us no matter which defenders start. Sead or Monreal will get punished by spuds wingers and pace.

      Definitely consider AMN starting or coming on as sub to give def in midfield by tracking spuds runs

    2. Will says:

      Wenger never picking Nelson for (what I think) would be his full premier league debut in an away fixture to Spurs….

  3. So…about the thumbs up and down buttons Admin?

      1. Simon Williams says:

        Please find a fix. Simple website shouldn’t be too hard.

        Good luck – hope to see thumbs back soon

  4. tatgooner says:

    why would they fear them when none of the new signins would get in their starting xi

  5. JJPawn says:

    The key to winning against the Spurs is to take control of the middle and force them outside, thus buying valuable seconds to form the defensive wall. Song and Alli have to contained and frustrated to stop the passes to Kane. Mustafi can keep tabs on Kane. So that it is sort of a back three with Mustafi mobile in shadowing Kane. Kane is deadly with time on the ball, thus not only must his feeders be harassed, but when he get the ball, Mustafi should be right there. (That is why Wenger made those comments about diving…)

    I suppose Wenger has to play Ramsay and Wilshere, as contracts matter. That is just too bad. Arsenal’s British players think too much of themselves, and the British fans also think too much of especially Wilshere, who is a defensive liability due to the simple lack of speed. Wilshere will not be able to contain any of the front-men of the Spurs and his time on the ball weakens Arsenal’s attacks, but worse than ball hogger Alexis. (Too many touches allow seconds for the other side to organise, and we cannot afford to time to the Spurs defense to adjust.)

    On the other hand, the faster Ramsay has the capability of staying with the Spurs players, but he needs to think defensively, which at times escapes him as he looking for the glory days of one season, long ago. Ramsay also a tendency to hog the ball, without however not being good enough to organize the attack, the way Ozil does with is time on the ball. When Ozil dribbles, he is trying pull people off their line or position.

    I would have Elneny on there to nullify Alli and harass the young man who can have temper tantrums. Eleneny is also tireless and will run the entire game for Wenger and can also stay with the ball to also harass Song.

    An aggressive 442 Diamond would allow the two forwards to force the Spurs their back line to the wall, and thus break the link play in the middle that they are capable of. Elneny at the base of the diamond can act as an extra forward central defender in protecting the back lines from being overrun, while as a DMF he can link and play commanding the middle.

    The top of the Diamond is for the Ozil to roam and create. They cannot mark Ozil, Auba and Laca given their movement off the ball. Yes, play Laca and Auba. Not playing Arsenal’s best sniper in Laca is a mistake. Laca also runs his heart out, and can be useful to start the game.

    The sides of the Diamond are Mkhi and Ramsay, and they can change sides, defend some and help the front three, but also take the rare shot when no one is thinking of them, as what happened with Everton. Both are good for some goals, but Ramsay needs to cerebral, I hope he is watching Mkhi, who was a steal from United, worth a lot more than the measley 35M we were asking for Alexis.

    I did not mentions Bellerin and Monreal. For me there two Spaniards the best in their positions on forms. They will defend first. When the attack, Monreal is deadly as we know, and can pop-up from no where. Bellerin’s speed means that he can cover for someone on occasion, but he will make attacks by the Spurs on his side falter, while Monreal is a worry, given that he is not as fast, but that is where Elneny’s speedy cover will count.

    Here is my team for the Spurs:

    Bellerin . Koscielny . Mustafi . Monreal

    1. Midkemma says:

      I feel you are a bit harsh on Wilshere, he is willing to stay back more than Rambo and he is better at carrying the ball out from deep. Wilshere will look to draw a foul or make a forward pass while Rambo is to willing to pass back and allow the CBs to receive the pressure.

      Wilshere may not win a 100 meter sprint but he has a good initial bit of acceleration which he uses well to position himself in the way.

      Rambo has a tendency to position himself ahead of play ready to receive the ball, this works as a AM but a CM I feel it is too much of a gap making issue, if we lose the ball then he is the wrong side of it to press and win back without coming from behind which is likely to draw a foul.

      I like your formation though 😉

      1. JJPawn says:

        Sorry! (And, thank you.)

        I like Wilshere. Even when he smoked.

        But, he cannot keep up. Do re-watch some of the games he played. Once the ball got away from him, he could not keep up. There is a picture somewhere with Auba and Wishere striding… it is funny, as Auba at full stretch is nearly twice Wilshere at full stretch.

        The other reason Wilshere is hurt often is that he keeps the ball seconds too long. Thus, taking knocks on the ankle. He is done for. Santi also had the problem… though he was cleverer than Jack.

        1. Midkemma says:

          I think Wilshere has improved this year with his decision making, he looks to drive the team forward and doesn’t pass back to the CBs as often as someone like ElNeny while being able to not get injured. Think I read or heard he got Flu and that was why he hasn’t played, dunno if it is true, it isn’t an ankle issue or physical injury if so.

          We know our CBs are not the best when it comes to organisation so we don’t want to put them under undue pressure, having a deep lying playmaker who will pass forward would aid by giving less chances for mistakes to happen at the very back. ElNeny makes too many safe passes, side or back which gives the opposition time to press further up the field more.

          If the CM ahead of him had the pace and power to defend and when unable to win the ball back, put enough pressure on the player so Wilshere can step in and get ‘control’ of the ball before the attacker bundles him over.

          Ramsey has this capability, I do fondly remember his few months of excellence alongside Arteta before getting injured, he was putting in over 4 tackles a game if I recall correctly, one of the highest for the team in that period.

          If we can get that Ramsey who knew how to defend and when to attack then he is a top player, he isn’t that consistently enough (in my opinion) and that is what lets him down. I don’t know which Ramsey is going to turn up and it is infuriating to the point I would be happier for a prospect to be given the chance to step up.

          If Wenger chooses Ramsey (which he will) then I hope we get the good Ramsey as he can be a match winner.

  6. Midkemma says:

    I hate to think this but I do think Ramsey will be the deciding factor, if he starts and plays well then we stand a very good chance but if he is too attack minded and leaves gaps like he can then we are going to pay for it.

    I don’t want Ramsey to start because of this and I don’t believe Wenger will drop him after the last game.

    I would much prefer AMN and Wilshere or swap AMN to ElNeny who puts in a lot of effort and is mobile, willing to stay back and defend alongside Wilshere.

    My team would be 442 Diamond CM.


    I put AMN pushed up as he could be a tough tackling B2B/ Def B2B type pressing from high up and using his pace to get back and help defend, like Vieira did.

    Having Wilshere sit behind, Mkhi partnering him and Ozil ahead means he has good players to pass to if he wins the ball back. Mkhi and Ozil could rotate as Mkhi drives forward and links up CM to attack, leapfrogging Ozil type of concept. Mkhi also put in a nice number of tackles last time out and if he can build on that then he could replace Cazorla in the middle… maybe?

    Wilshere can be told to just sit back and be the deep lying playmaker who always makes himself available for the pass and able to start an attack from deep. To always be ready so if the spuds are pressing our attack hard then they can pass back to him and trust that he will not pass it back to the CB…

    I hope that whatever team is picked will turn up and use their heads to adapt to situations as that is what Wenger likes his players to do over drilling them with tactics, the players are good enough if they turn up… That is what I am realistically hoping for.

  7. JJPawn says:

    Who is going to contain the fast Alli? Song? Not Jack! The base of the diamond has to be someone able to move fast and tackle, with defense as their first responsibility. I see Jack drifting too high with a dribble (the Spurs will be instructed to let him come up) and then being unable to get back to shield the back line.

    When Wenger mentions the correct balance between attack and defense what he means is the right player to carry this out.

    I think if Wenger uses a 442 diamond, it is Xhaka at the base. And, he can tackle, but he is slow to turn and harass from behind. However, as a provider to the front, Xhaka is the best from that position, and that is why Wenger likes him. But, I think it might change with Mkhi also there, now Wenger can put someone dedicated to defend… that is why my vote is for Elneny!

  8. Simon Williams says:

    I’d play Elneny too, with Jack ahead of back 4.

    Play Ramsey further forward replacing Iwobi

  9. Simon Williams says:

    Anyone else worried we have zero cover for Bellerine! ?

    1. JJPawn says:

      Me. I fear an injury to Bellerin…

      But, we do have some younger players who are fast. The nice thing about younger players is that they listen to the coaches better!

    2. Midkemma says:

      I have thought the same as well.

      I read that AFC is looking at Napoli manager, Sarri, to replace Wenger.
      Hysaj is playing for Napoli now and is a rumored target of AFC.
      Other rumors also indicate that some of the players would want to follow Sarri, Koulibaly as well?

      Napoli are currently 2nd behind Juve.
      2 points behind with 1 game in hand.
      Conceded the least goals in Serie A(at time of writing).

      Maybe that is AFC plan to continue the changes, sorted the attack out in Jan which is nice and steal Sarri along with half of Napoli def to stop letting in so many.

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