Balogun, Eddie, Jesus, Trossard: 3-4-1-2 next season?

Before we focus on our next OGAAT battle with Everton, let’s talk about Folarin Balogun and what his return to the Home of Football next season could mean.

Jesus has already proven to be a great Arsenal CF, Eddie is doing a fabulous job right now and Balogun is making all the baguettes stand up with excitement in la douce France this season. We are blessed with three very fine CFs, and when were we last able to say this?

Having watched Folarin a few times on TV now, it’s not a fluke that he is the league’s topscorer. He is fluid and works the defence hard, he has a great ‘nose for a goal’ as the Dutch say (he sniffs chances) and he knows no nerves in front of goal. He can, be target man, play with his back towards goal and loves to come deep too! If he can do this with relatively limited service in the Stade Reims team, just imagine what it could be like when he plays with the likes of Ode, Xhaka and Saka around him!!

Surely, we cannot keep all three of our CFs happy next season if we can only play one at a time? And with Trossard in the team, we cannot simply say we’ll play Jesus on the left and one of Eddie or Balogun through the middle in most of our games.

We could say we effectively have four CFs, two who can play on the left and two who can play on the right. Could we therefore opt for two CFs next season, say in a 3-4-1-2?

Something like this:

Ramsdale

White-Saliba-Gab

Saka-Part-Xhaka-Zinch

Ode

Eddie-Jesus

Or

Turner

Tomi-Rob-Kiwi

Nelson-Jorginho-Zinch-Tiern

ESR

Balogun-Trossard

Mix and match as per your preferences. I don’t know about you but I quite like this set up for next season. There is also Martinelli and possibly Rice to squeeze into these lineups.

What do you think?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal Have 19 OGAAT Fences to Overcome: Yee-Haw!

Outside my kitchen window I can see, in the distance, two huge tower cranes operating over a large building project. After another successful transfer window I cannot help thinking of Mikel and Edu being the tower crane operators of our beloved Arsenal. They certainly operate with a great overview whilst having their feet firmly on the ground. They could see the (potential) gaps in our team and knew how to deal with them. I applaud them for the sensibility.

We needed cover for Big Gab and they found a left-footed CB in Kiwior. We needed extra, proven (ideally PL) goal scoring power and Trossard, who can play in a number of attacking roles, can just hit the ground running. An injury to either Ode or Partey would hurt our title chase significantly, so signing Jorginho, who is versatile, experienced and will feel at home among all our Brazilians, is a fine insurance policy by Mikel and Edu. Yes, they were after younger versions initially but their targets were hard to get in the mid-season transfer window. With a much coveted league title at stake Arsenal simply had to act, and we certainly have strengthened defence, midfield and attack with these three signings.

The Boehly boy of the Chavs reminds me of an old neighbour when I was still a boy. They were better off than my family but had no taste. Every time I got a new outside toy or an item of clothing, they would not waste any time before they got it as well, but better, more expensive and of course more showy. The Chavs have been splashing the money with huge desperation to stop the slippery slide into mediocrity. Boehly’s new toy is not giving him any joy so out comes to wallet and splash goes the cash. I wonder how much Potter was involved in all these purchases and how much of a plan there is… other then let’s buy what Arsenal want to buy; let’s snatch it away from them.

So now we have 19 PL battles to go and the next one up is against the Toffees. We are going to count down from now on with OGAAT in mind, and every victory will be celebrated like a cup final. This is a special season. Nobody, absolutely nobody, saw this coming. Every footie pundit had us outside the top-three, many outside the top-four. Let’s get back in the saddle BKers: 19 fences in front of us. Yee-Haw!!

And let’s finish this season as the wonderful Antonin Dvorak does in his Carnival Overture Op.92!

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TA

Arsenal Need a Beast of a Midfielder: Caicedo or Plan B(en)?

A day and a half to go before the transfer window shuts, and what will happen between now and then?

The signing of Trossard was just what we needed upfront. We saw on Friday that young Vieira is not first team material as yet, and with Emile and Ryan both so often injured, Leandro is that much needed January shot in the arms.

Kiwior seems good business too. A left footed CB to cover for Big Gab is Chopin to my ears.

What we also learned on Friday is our over-dependency on Partey and the threat to the season Elneny’s injury is causing. Sambi did not get the nod in our starting eleven and when he came on he offered little. As the whole team were playing with the handbrake on, I don’t feel we should judge his cameo too harshly, but it’s clear that we need to add steel in midfield before 1 February.

It’s such a shame Maitland-Niles just didn’t push himself into our first team, or indeed our best 18. The Partey role could have been ideal for him, but he has not made the grade. It’s not a position for an academy player, unless, like AMN, they have had a considerable time in the team already. AMN, Willock and maybe ESR should have become the Partey backup, but Mikel has to go to market instead.

Is Caicedo for an awful lot of money the answer? It looks like Brighton don’t want to let him go and I don’t blame them. I also have not seen enough of him to say whether he will be an instant success.

We need to do something, though. Partey is likely to get injured at some point and the gap could jeopardise our Leicester-esque chance to win the title this time round.

I know I am not the only one who believes Ben White could play well in the Partey position. Tomiyasu, Cedric and Holding are excellent cover for his current position. White reads the game well, is a decent passer of the ball, a good eye for interceptions and blocks and a good, calm communicator. The team love and trust him. Why not give it a try?

Of course if Mikel and Edu can do some excellent business before Wednesday then I will not be complaining. But we need a plan B(en)..

What do you think?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Man City FA Cup Preview and Line up. Sambi This is Your Moment!

Man City v Arsenal in the Forever Arsenal(‘s) Cup

My favourite Art Historian Kenneth Clarke once said that ‘Great men have a curious way of appearing in complementary pairs, there to keep human faculties in balance’. He was, as an example, speaking about the great ‘artists’ of the 18th century: George Frederic Handel and Johan Sebastian Bach. There is no doubt that Ferguson and Wenger needed each other to push themselves to the very best they could be; and it is clear that Klopp and Guardialo are similar ‘complementary pairs’.

But the big pair we will focus on for this game is the one of master and apprentice: Pep and Mikel. Nothing is more beneficial to a young career than being surrounded by a master or two. Mikel soaked it all up at Pep’s Citeh and it may well be that the two passionate Spaniards will become the two PL maestros for the current decade. Early days of course, and Klopp and possibly Ten Hag may have something to say about it too.

Guardiola is twelve years the senior of Arteta and it was a of course a very good choice by the former to ask Mikel to join him as soon as his playing career was over. Mikel’s English is much better (something that badly led down his Spanish Arsenal predecessor) and his focus on adherence to hard values and total football principles is much more Van Gaal-like than Cruijff and Wenger-like. Guardiola – more Cruijff or Wenger-like than Van Gaal-like – seems a bit more relaxed and philosophical these days; and there is certainly a bit of a calm master about him. I don’t like saying it but I have a lot of respect for the MC manager and the strategic decision making of the club’s owners.

It is ridiculous that we have played only half of our PL games and it is almost February. Our gap of five points plus a game in hand is surreal too. But tonight we are fighting Man City for a place in the next round of the FA Cup. It’s on ITV so a larger TV audience than usual will look forward to a great battle of the titans. Although Arsenal are of course the most successful FA Cup team in history, and we have to defend this honour every season, I wonder whether Arteta can afford to put out our strongest team with no hand-breaks on. The serious-looking Elneny injury is a significant setback to the team. Partey is of course key in any battle with MC but with MO injured we really are in a precarious situation. I don’t think we can risk Thomas tonight. So for me it is Lokonga time: put him in a strong team and show us what he is capable of. Now or maybe never, Sambi. Other than that I think we should start with many of the usual 11, with subs a bit earlier than usual. It is a big game and it never seems to work in these games to field a watered down starting eleven. We want to play well and put up a fight; there is more at stake here than reaching the next round in the FA Cup.

My Preferred Line-Up:

Ramsdale

Tomi-Saliba-Gab-Tierney

Sambi-Xhaka

Saka-Ode-Martinelli

Eddie

MC will push us back so Granit will sit deeper than usual which will be a good support to Sambi. Tomi and Tierney will be chomping at the bit for this one, and after 60 minutes or so we can bring on the likes of Zinchenko, White and Trossard, or even Partey to see out the game.

Alternatively, we can go wild and go with LeGall’s proposed starting 11:

Turner
Tomiyasu-Holding-Kiwior-Tierney

White-Zinchenko
Trossard-Vieira-Martinelli

Nketiah

What do you say fine fellow Gooners?!

By TotalArsenal.

Declan Rice in then Who Goes Out: Elneny, Xhaka or Partey?

There have been some strong speculations that Declan Rice will come to Arsenal this summer, or maybe even sooner than that. Who knows?!

The more serious sources in football, BBC and the Guardian, have both reported that Arsenal have had a meeting with Rice, including where and how they would see him fit into the team. Rice appears to want to move to Arsenal but money talks of course, and many a club will want the 24 year old English international to join them. Moreover, the way we are now playing, the very rich clubs with oil-deep pockets will want to stop Arsenal even getting better than we already are. But West Ham will want to help Rice to make the move he really wants such is the respect for him, a player who has played almost 200 games for them and is clearly too talented to hold on to. Arsenal can pay competitive wages so there should be no problem at all.

But the most appealing thing Arsenal will have to offer to him is to become part of the Arteta evolution; and boy is there a more exciting prospect in Europe right now?!

The big question is where would he play in our team: what did Arteta and Edu discuss with him? My short answer is he will play in Partey’s position and either Partey or Elneny will move on.

Thomas Partey has been very good recently and many believe he is making the biggest difference. He is positionally strong and has great presence on the pitch. There are two issues with Partey, however: prone to injury and not a great passer. The former is part of my prayers and the latter is an area where I cannot see him improve anymore. Thomas has three or four bad, unforced passes every game, and this is exactly where Rice will offer an upgrade. Arteta’s evolution is all to do with pressing (which TP does very well) and quick and accurate passing in tight spaces and under pressure. This is where we need to improve in the deeper midfield position imo.

Rice is mainly right footed and plays mainly on the right side of midfield. Xhaka is left footed and plays on the left. They would make a very strong couple in midfield. I believe that Zinchenko is Granit’s natural DM replacement and that Trossard and ESR will replace him in the more advanced position. Mikel rates and loves the almost always fit Xhaka and I cannot see him go anywhere. Finally, the fans have noticed this as well and he is getting the respect and love he truly deserves.

Comparison Partey/Rice:

Average number of passes: 65.1/61.3

% successful: 86.6/89.4

Key passes: 0.9/1.3

Tackles: 2.3/2.3

Interceptions: 1.2/1.6

Dribbles: 08/0.3

Who would leave if Rice becomes a Gunner?

Well, if Partey is happy to play less going forward – in the end he will become 30 this summer – then I would imagine Mo will move on. Maybe Mo has had enough of playing so little these days and will want to have a go somewhere else. A swap with West Ham maybe? However, Elneny seems very settled with his role at Arsenal and Arteta rates him highly. So my guess is that Thomas would move on if Rice joins us this year.

What do you think?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v MU Eight Observations: Great blossoming partnerships Left and Right, Zinch MOTM.

Arsenal 3 – 2 Manchester United

Gunners on ferocious fire for 90+ minutes and at last they sacked Ten Hags exhausted Mancs.

Eight Observations:

  1. The Zinch and Granit have found their collective groove. Both were excellent and the left flank was ours all game long. It’s taken a while for the Ukrainian and Swiss wizard to figure each other out, but wow they were brilliant. Despite all that support I thought Martinelli was a bit underwhelming with his final ball.
  2. Zinchenko has a fantastic motor with fine excelleration. He had no fear of the Mancs’ high press and went through their lines like a Bentley. This made a crucial difference. Great positioning and interceptions too, and he had Anthony in his boot and rattled him all day long. His big game experience and enthusiasm was clear to see. Love those meaty underarms. MOTM.
  3. Gary Neville, I have time for you mate but don’t have a go at Mikel for his enthusiasm. Ben White got a card straight away but Shaw could commit foul after foul and get away with it. THAT’S what Mikel was pointing out to the ref when he put four fingers in the air, not the severity of Shaw’s last foul. That was poor commentary.
  4. Eddie played again for the team and was a constant threat. Two goals including the winner and we all love you, Eddie. Very close to MOTM.
  5. Bukayo was once again a class act. Superb goal and almost a second from a similar effort. Bukayo left Luke ‘Shaw of the Dead’ all game. The partnership with Ode is one of the most beautiful ones to watch in Europe right now. It doesn’t get any better than that.
  6. The midfield was ace again. Zinch and the strong substitute, Tomiyasu, really helped Partey a lot in the second half, and it made all the difference. Our full backs are Mikel’s greatest managerial invention, and we have great double cover there as well.
  7. Did you feel that shot in the arms too when Trossard came on?! It was like all of a sudden revealing the last siege engine to finally crack the Mancs medieval castle. It was too much for them. The crowd was electric and the pressure was so intense. PB wrote in his match preview that our opponent are a fit team that often plays best in the latter part of the game. They did however play midweek and we didn’t, and it showed. Bringing on Trossard was a great psychological move by Arteta.
  8. I cannot believe Arsenal only played half of its games and we are almost in February. Whatever happens next, these have been the most exhilarating set of games in the last 18 years or so. Great, lasting positive change happens when a leader – from Charlemagne to Alfred the Great and Herbert Chapman to Arsene Wenger – has a great vision and plan, focuses hard on non-negotiable values and norms, knows how to get the best out of people who have pride in what they do, operate with a long term plan of reform, AND put their heart and soul into it. Mikel I salute you (and please look after yourself!).

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Manchester United: A Close Look at Our Opponent and How to Claim Victory

Time for revenge? (22/01/23) – Game preview

New signings are always exciting, but life moves on, and we are facing another important game on Sunday. So far, the only team that defeated Arsenal in the Premier League is returning the visit, so regardless of their current position it’s a matter of pride to win against Manchester United.

Last season we had Man City and Liverpool taking all 6 points from our 2-2 encounters, plus we had Crystal Palace and Brighton taking 4 points each. So if we defeat the Mancs tomorrow then we have reduced the number of teams taking more points from the 2 meetings than us to a hypothetical 2, which might be further decreased if we don’t lose against Newcastle and stand our ground against the defending champions. This would be something to brag about…

Let’s start the preview with the notable absentees. Besides the long-term injuries of Jesus and Nelson we have to add Elneny to the list, as he had a knock. Normally I wouldn’t be concerned about that, but Elneny’s best games were against Manchester United (and Chelsea), so I’ll miss him from the bench, and will be worried if he will play against Southampton or Nottingham, where he shouldn’t. United has a longer list of players missing the game that used to be the highlight of the league for a decade: Jones, Dalot, Martial, Tuanzabe and van de Beek are injured, Sancho is in a bad place (officially he has ‘personal reasons’, but I don’t know the difference), and Casemiro got his 5th booking in the 80th minute of their last game.

By the way, yellow cards. The rules state that whoever accumulates 5 warnings in the first 19 round will be suspended for a PL match. This is our 19th game, and we have 4 players on 4 yellow cards. Jesus won’t collect his 5th, but Saliba, Saka and Gabriel Magalhães might. I know that the Everton game on the 4th of February is not a season definer to say the least, but it would be nice to avoid suspension nevertheless. The 19th round does not literally reset the card count, but almost: the next milestone is collecting 10 yellows in 32 rounds, which is less likely if the guys start the 20th game with less than 5.

According to TransferMarkt their top-6 players with the highest market values are Fernandes, Antony, Sancho, Rashford, Casemiro and L. Martinez. Anthony, Sancho and Martinez worth so much because of their inflated transfer price, but indeed we do have to take care of Rashford and Fernandes, as they are strong and in-form players that can seriously influence a game. If we can switch them off, we are expected to keep all 3 points at home.

United is famous to protect their lead, so it would help if we could score first. Fortunately, we can rely on the brilliance of captain Odegaard, the dangerous dribbles of our wingers, and we can hurt Manchester in set pieces. Even though both Varane and Maguire are tall defenders, they will most likely mark our attacking outlets, so Saliba and Gabriel – the twin towers of North-London – could carve themselves a few openings after a corner or a free-kick.

They play in the same formation as Arsenal: 4-2-3-1, where Weghorst will play up front supported by Anthony and Rashford on the wings and Bruno from attacking midfield. The dual pivot behind them will be Eriksen with either Fred or McTominay. This will be one of their weaknesses as Eriksen – a former world class AM – has limited defensive contributions, and neither Fred nor Scott are on the level of Partey or Xhaka. I expect them to realize they will not win the possession battle, therefore resort to counterattacks; and that should decide the outcome as our central defenders are superior to theirs, but both William and Gabriel are capable of individual errors (If they could remove that from their game, both of them would be top-5 defenders in the PL). Their other weakness is that we have better players in 1-2-1 comparison for the majority of the positions.

What the boys should further take into consideration is the superior stamina of the opponent. Manchester United scored most of the goals in the final 15 minutes and conceded the least in the last half an hour. They will not get tired as easy as other teams, thus can be still dangerous even when trailing by 2 in the 80th minute.

Our only loss this season in the Premier League came against our current guests, when we lost 3-1 at Old Trafford back in September. Since then Arsenal have drawn two and won the other ten of our league games. In fact I think we shouldn’t have lost that game either; you might remember that Martinelli’s opening goals was chalked off due to a bullsh*t fault Odegaard allegedly committed several seconds earlier. We were chasing the game after Anthony’s debut goal and after equalizing we were punished by 2 swift counterattacks (both scored by Rashford); let’s hope it will not happen this afternoon. The game official is no good news, though: the professional W⚓, Anthony Taylor.

Statistics suggest that neither teams should lose: Arsenal kept 5 clean sheets in the last 7 games (winning 6), while United is undefeated for 6 games suggesting a 0:0 result. Yet, I predict a 2:1 victory, especially as the red devils should only be proud of the scalp of their city rival, while defeating Nottingham, Wolves or Bournemouth is less of an achievement (no offense intended). There is a good chance that by the time the game starts we will be only 2 points ahead of Manchester City, with 2 games in hand to be fair. Let us win this one, and visit City on Friday in an FA Cup fixture full of confidence.

By Peter Barany.

Leandro, Welcome to The Arsenal

All main sports news outlets are telling us that Trossard has signed for Arsenal. We needed like for like cover for our LW position for a long time, and the Belgian Seagull seems just the man.

Martinelli and Trossard both have scored 7 and assisted two goals so far this season, with our new signing doing it in two games fewer. With around 25 games to play Arsenal just could not risk not signing proper cover. No doubt ‘rods trod Arsenal’ (an anagram of Leandro Trossard) will want to become the Nr1 on the left. There will be healthy competition between the two, and his arrrival will also allow Arsenal to sell Martinelli if he pushes for a move in the next two or three years (which I for one predict to happen).

Emile can also play on the left but but he is injury prone and a different type of player to Trossard or Martinelli. ESR can play in Xhaka’s and Odegaard’s positions, where I think he will flourish more.

Nelson should be cover and competition for Saka, but he is injury prone and it just feels he is probably not going to make it. Marquinos may usurp him soon.

I would imagine Trossard can play on both wings, and maybe also in Xhaka’s more advanced position these days.

He is relatively cheap for an experienced and proven PL player. For example, the gorgeously carved Jack Grealish was about four times more expensive and his impact has been minimum since his arrival.

It remains to be seen whether this move will work out for both parties. It’s not without risk of course. Willian and Mkhitaryan for example did not work out for us at all.

But we need extra firepower and a proven PL LW for £21-25m is worth the gamble IMHO.

Welcome to the Arsenal, Leandro.

What do you think, fellow Gooners.

By TotalArsenal

45 minutes of mashing the Spuddies: Ooh to, Ooh to be, Ooh to be A Gooner!

Spuds 0 – 2 Arsenal

I could do my usual eight Observations but I think I would be repeating myself from previous summations. There is a pattern in our play now based around Mikel’s values, style of play, tactics and a settled first eleven players.

When Xhaka, Partey and the Ode are playing we have steel and panache in midfield. This is probably the strongest midfield in the PL right now. They bossed the Spuds in all aspects of the game.

In attack we have two very strong wingers who are also great support to their colleagues on their wings. The Guardian’s view is that we have the strongest wingers in the PL right now. I have said in the past that the arrival of Jesus has given us two great players; the other one being Martinelli. This mentor-apprentice relationship was electric at the start of the season. Marti is learning to shine without GJ9 on the pitch, and I liked how he went about his game yesterday.

Saka is at another level right now. He oozes control and unpredictability. The opponents fear him like thunder and lightning in an open field. 21 years old and having such an impact on the game. Wow.

I am loving Eddie now too. I had my doubts but he creates such fear in defenders with his unpredictable play, movement and choices he makes. Just like Jesus he misses chances as a result of fatigue from the way he is asked to play. He should have scored one perhaps, but I rather have a hard working CF creating space for others than the wait and pounce one that filled the position not so long ago.

The defence is just great. What a masterstroke by Arteta to move White to right back and play the Zinch on the left. They look so mature, and fearless and Ramsdale is great to make it an awesome five.

The first half was embarrassingly good. The Spuds were pealed, rinsed, boiled and mashed for 45 minutes. The face of Conte said it all. It was saying Mamma Mia please wake me up from this Gunners nightmare.

We are truly spoiled that we can rewatch a half like that eternally and never get sick of it.

The second half was full of grit and organisational excellence. And Ramsdale probably had his strongest game yet with exquisite saves and real presence in his area. That clean sheet deserves the biggest celebration. Aaron will be England’s Nr1 soon.

Oh what a glorious victory. All our opponents still have to reach the forty points mark while Arsenal can get to fifty with a win against the Hag men. On Sunday. I think Arteta’s motivational speech can be very short for that encounter: he just has to write in big letters ’50’ on the flip chart.

Ooh to, Ooh to be, Ooh to be A Gooner. 🙂

By TotalArsenal

Spuds v Arsenal Preview: A Close Look at Our Opponent and How to Mash Them

Is it the time for an away win in the North-London Derby? (15/01/23) – Game preview

There are many clubs based in London. In fact, there are 7 this season in the PL; in alphabetical order: Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. So literally we have a $h*tload of London derbies in a year (in fact there are 42, but who’s counting?), however only one – technically 2 – of them have the traditions, emotions and passion and prestige to rule them all. On Sunday we visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to fight for 3 points and the bragging rights.

I wish I could say that we are the favorites to win that game, because we sit 11 points ahead of Tottenham. However, that would be misleading. The ‘good ole days’ when we defeated Spurs by 5:2 back to back games are far in the past. Nowadays the tradition of the derby is that the hosts keep all 3 points, irrespective of the squad quality, the current form or the table position. That happened in the last 7 encounters, and Spurs will do their ugliest best to keep the tradition alive. Let’s collect the good and bad omens before the game, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses and the style of play of the infamous opposition. Nevertheless, the winning streak of the hosts is the worst sign of them all.

Bad omen II: Harry Kane is in an exquisite form. He is their talisman players – as well as the record scorer in NLDs – and he is in a fine form. Except for England’s 0:0 draw against the USA and their 01/01 home loss against Emery’s Aston villa, Kane has made (at least) a goal contribution in every game he played since mid-November. We are talking about 8 games here with 7 goals and 3 assists, and in his last 2 encounters he was awarded MotM. While I do not particularly like the guy, this is a performance worth admiration.

Bad omen III: Tottenham has an annoying tendency of coming back from losing positions. Out of their 37 goals, 10 have been scored in the first half, and 27 in the second. This could help them turn the game around if they concede early, but also shows that Conte has serious skills in making proper mid-game changes both from tactical perspective and also formation-wise, deviating from their preferred 3-4-2-1.

Bad omen IV: they are motivated. The North-London Derby is a huge motivation on its own accord, but taking into consideration that the top 4 places seem to have sailed away from Tottenham (should be allocated among Arsenal, Newcastle and the 2 Manchester teams), they have this game as a minor cup final. And I’m not sure it is the same for us, but even so, it’s a smaller final. Plus they have to get us back for the earlier defeat, so they won’t have to dig deep to find their cojones.

Good omen I: They have a long injury list, that includes quite a few (half-)decent players. According to the latest team news, they will be missing the services of Richarlison, Bentancur (their 2nd best in form player), Kulusevski (#5), Moura and Bissouma. On the other hand our match-day squad only lacks Jesus and Nelson, and while the former is indeed a big blow, he is seemed to be properly substituted by Eddie Nketiah, who scored 5 goals in his last 5 starts.

Good omen II: they are error-prone. Tottenham is not only known for making individual errors, but also for struggling when defending against skillful players. Now all 4 attackers are in great form, especially if we disregard our streak-ending draw against Newcastle. There is a good chance that Odegaard, Martinelli or Saka could open them up, and even though Romero is a fresh World Cup winner, his performance hardly reminds of that this season. Son doesn’t resemble the hitman he used to be, so if we focus on neutralizing Kane, we have good chances for a decent result, and even decent chances of a good result.

Good omen III: referee Craig Pawson. He is among the more reliable officials in the PL. Our only game with him this season was our 0:3 victory at Bournemouth (got a single yellow only). I’m not looking for favors here, but Tottenham is known to play the referees and diving, and I hope Craig will not be too susceptible with those tomorrow. And let’s not forget, VAR might help us with offside and handball, but when there is a minimal contact, everything will be up to the official’s interpretation.

Good omen IV: their strong and weak suits fit ours. Tottenham’s goals came from open play (25), corners (10!) and penalties. Arsenal only a single goal from corner, and none from direct free kicks or set pieces. Despite their really tall squad, Saliba and Gabriel M will fight off their aerial threats, while our creative players can cause problems to their robust, yet not too technical CBs, Davies and Dier.

Tomorrow’s game is not simply the clash of two antagonistic neighbours. It is also the fight of 2 different footballing philosophies. Tottenham represents the clubs where they bought their best players for big money (Romero, Richarlison), and they demand established, decorated managers to coach them (Mourinho, Conte). On the other hand, Arsenal prefers the smart purchases of undervalued players (Odegaard, Saliba, and all 3 Gabis), plus we pick our coaches based on long-term strategy and club DNA. Arsenal is known for their strong academy and giving chances to the young starlets (Saka, ESR, Nketiah), however this might be changing with Arteta (And the upcoming Mudryk-transfer is putting our smart transfer tradition in a different perspective, but this is a topic to be discussed under a different post.)

So we need to have Harry Kane disengaged, concentrate and focus while defending corners, disregard the intimidating atmosphere, and avoid situations where Tottenham players can appeal for penalties, free kicks and cards. I don’t think we need to have a preferred wing or particular tactics to score goals, as Spurs are not really good defensively, and without Bentancur they will struggle at midfield too. But they do have a lethal force, and even with 3 injuries Son and Kane are to be taken seriously.

Not surprisingly, I expect Tottenham to play in 3-4-2-1 (with Perisic and Royal on the flanks, and Gil + Son supporting Kane from the middle), while – even less surprisingly – we will be keeping our standard 4-2-3-1 with the usual starting line-up. I think even back-to-back NLD victories are on the table, but to be realistic I predict an enjoyable draw of 2:2 or maybe even 3:3.

What do you think of North London? Is it red? Is it blue? Or purple maybe? Be kind in the comments, but mostly to yours truly, not with Tottenham. 😛

By Peter Barany.