Whether he is the manager of Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United or the Tiny Totts, against the fellow top teams the approach is always the same: make sure the team is defensively as tight as possible and hope for a goal from a counter or set piece. Arsene mostly tried to play attacking football against the self-adoring one and we paid for it every time. Once or twice the Frenchman decided to mirror the approach and that led to a draw on a few occasions.
Mourinho loves nothing more than teams that want to attack and push up, and Pep Guardiola’s Man City were his latest victims. Of course the Catalan carries the highest flag for free attacking, total football and he would not dream of mirroring JM’s tactics in any game. Mikel Arteta will be fully aware that his team is nowhere near Man City is currently when it comes to the fine arts of total football, and he certainly knows how much the NLD means to us Arsenal supporters.
So I am sure Arteta will have no intentions to fall into Mourinho’s only party trick, and I would not be surprised if he will set up in such a way that even the Portuguese will have no other option than to order his players forward in front of 2000 or so Spuddies. Let’s do a Mourinho on Mourinho: sit back, absorb pressure and create turnovers and counter attacks. It is our best chance for taking something away from the toilet bowl tomorrow, and anything else is asking for trouble.
Yet when we do go forward we need a bit of the spirit of Rosicky tomorrow:
How to line up then? I go for 4-3-3, assuming that Luiz is not FULLY fit to play – if he is we should play him in a 3-5-2 formation, between two capable and committed CBs (Xhaka or Elneny would then give way).
I have a feeling that Partey has been prepped for this game all along, but if not then we might see a start for AMN or Joe, and I think they are both ready for a NLD. With such a midfield and quality defenders the Spuds will find it hard to create something meaningful, yet we have the attacking players who can create quick turnovers and get in front of their goal. I am pretty sure it will be a poor game to watch, other than from a tactical point of view. But for once I don’t care. As long as we don’t walk into Mourinho’s only trap, give our all and take one or two of our chances Arsenal have a good chance to get something from this game.
Song before the players leave the dressing room: