Arsenal were disappointing in defeat against Liverpool last weekend. There was a clear plan from Unai Emery, as he looked to counter with pace and exploit the wide spaces left vacant by the advancing Reds’ full-backs. It wasn’t a bad idea. In fact, if Nicolas Pepe had scored his one-on-one at 0-0, the Gunners may have gone on to get something from the game. However, the new signing was denied by Adrian and a predictable home win came to pass.
Although they have ambitions to challenge at the top of the league, supporters will understand an away defeat to Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s team are far more advanced in their journey than the Gunners. However, a similar result this weekend will not be easily forgiven. Tottenham come to the Emirates Stadium to contest the first North London derby of the campaign, following a poor defeat to Newcastle United.
Emery will have noticed an area that can be exploited in the Tottenham defence in Davinson Sanchez. The Colombian hasn’t been at his best during the opening weeks of the season and he struggled to deal with the physicality of Newcastle striker Joelinton. The visiting forwards had the better of the contests between the two, with the pace and power crucial in driving his team up the pitch.
For the Newcastle goal, Joelinton found space to get beyond Sanchez, with the Tottenham defender displaying a lack of tactical awareness. His positioning was poor and that has been the case throughout the first three matches on several occasions. Arsenal’s strengths lie in attack and they must look to exploit the struggling Spurs’ centre-back.
This is why Emery needs to be brave and field his three big-name attackers in the same starting eleven for the first time. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe started at Anfield, with Alexandre Lacazettte on the bench. All three need to play against Tottenham, with an open game expected.
There are often plenty of goals in the North London derby, with that trend likely to continue on Sunday. Both teams have vulnerabilities at the back. Emery will know that he can’t rely on his defenders to keep clean sheets on a regular basis. David Luiz showed his bad side against Liverpool, with two poor decisions that led to goals. Arsenal will need to back their attack to outscore the opposition if they are to triumph in matches against other top-six teams.
Lacazette is powerful and he provides a slightly different threat than his two forward partners. He could be the best player to capitalise on the vulnerabilities shown by Sanchez. Another reason to start with the Frenchman in a central position is the selection problem that Tottenham have at right-back. They are likely to start with either Moussa Sissoko or Eric Dier, neither of whom will inspire a lot of confidence. Aubameyang will be best deployed on the left-wing to take advantage of the injury problems in the Spurs’ back-line.
This will be an early indicator of how Arsenal compare with their local rivals. For the past few years, Tottenham have been the dominant side in North London. This is a chance for the Gunners to take bragging rights. An ambitious attacking line-up will be key to their success.