Giroud Too Much For Spurs To Handle – Match Preview
Match Preview – Tottenham vs Arsenal – Premier League – 07.02.15
Arsenal and Spurs enter the North London derby with identical league form records. Each have won 6, lost 1 and drew 1 of their last 8 league games and claimed a scalp from Chelsea and Man City a piece along the way. Both sides also won their last league outing with comfortable to nil scores against floundering teams from the West Midlands.
On paper it is wonderfully balanced and for the neutral promises to be a thrilling encounter. History suggests the games are at their most entertaining and explosive when one team is leagues behind the other heading into the match, see 2-2, 5-4, 5-2, 5-2.
That said, North London Derbies are notoriously difficult to call and whilst my gut is telling me it’s going to be a tense game with few to no goals between the teams my heart is telling my we’ll smash them for all they’re worth and my head is telling me it will be a reasonably high-scoring draw with the potential for either side to nick it by one goal.
Channelling the essence of Andy Gray here – goals ultimately decide games and who scores first will determine the tempo of the match. Arsenal are without Alexis who has scored 18 goals for the Gunners in his début season, however, Arsenal have scored ten goals in the three matches since the Chilean’s brace against Stoke.
Giroud is starting to show the rest of the world what his staunchest supporters have known since his first season here – he has the talent to lead and shine in a team peppered with world-class talent and has an eye for goal. Olivier seems to have put his personal issues from last season behind him and has shown great technique or astute positioning and tactical awareness in his goals since returning – he will be a threat to Spurs’ defence in too many ways to nullify completely.
Our handsome French target man is not your typical rabbit out of a hat striker but he has shown flashes of something from nothing and wonder-goal-getting ability since returning from injury and his hold up play, in my opinion, is unrivalled in the Premier League. Those assets teamed with his aerial ability, brute strength (can someone that handsome even have “brute” strength?), near post timing and ever improving accuracy he is one of the most complete centre-forwards in our game.
Keeping him quiet is almost impossible as he finds a way to be an influence be it goals, assists, creating space, generally being a nuisance or distracting the opposition with his pulchritudinous visage. He will be our key man today.
Arsenal also recently welcomed back Walcott and Özil who are both available and in scoring/assisting form – Alexis is a big game player and will rightly be missed but you have to feel Arsenal have enough quality in reserve to cope without the presence of Alexis.
Cazorla too is on fire and looking like a man reborn playing back in the middle. Many felt, and said, that he was not effective out wide and whilst statistically that was not true it is true that he is involved in the game more in middle which allows him to express himself better. Santi was a career winger before he joined Malaga so to suggest he cannot play out wide is plain stupidity but certainly he looks happier in the thick of it and has revelled in his new box-to-box-lite role.
His defensive contribution is easy to overlook with his fantastic offensive offerings but it should not be downplayed at all. He has been a revelation in recent weeks and his form has taken a lot of pressure off the returning Özil who, unencumbered by expectation and bulked up, is playing with comfort and ease. Ultimately, a fully settled and operational Özil, of whom we are catching glimpses so expect it to click very soon, will always trump Cazorla in the middle so our diminutive Spanish magician will probably be manoeuvred sideways again. The growing confidence and physique of his German colleague may see them interchange positions much more effectively than last season so we should see the best of both players in whatever position they start in or occupy.
Welbeck has been passed fit and could feature from the bench which will also host Gabriel, Rosicky and the eager figure of Chuba Akpom – all in all, not a bad bench to look at.
As always the atmosphere is bound to be palpably electric and will only intensify once the first goal goes in. I love and hate these derbies in equal measure before kick-off, hate them during play until we are winning, and love them after the fact when we emerge victorious (which thankfully happens more often than not).
The atmosphere will once again be electric as two teams that like to attack and are in buoyant mood go head to head. These games are impossible to enjoy if you are emotionally attached, but it certainly has the potential to be a great game for a neutral.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Ospina, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin. Flamini, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ramsey, Özil, Giroud, Walcott, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Cazorla, Campbell.
Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Walcott, Ramsey, Coquelin, Özil, Cazorla, Giroud
I expect to see substitute appearances from Rosicky, Welbeck and Flamini
“There was a big question mark above the team, about our ability to do it in the big games. We knew we could do it in the Champions League but to do it as well in the Premier League certainly was a big hurdle for us. I’m confident it will help us to deal well with the rest of the season’s big games.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham (27.09.2014)
- Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal (16.03.2014)
- Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham (04.01.2014)
Arsenal Last 5
Tottenham Last 5
Spurs have a respectable amount of goals for this stage of the season (35) but have conceded 30 already giving them a paltry difference of +5 – the lowest of any team in the top 6 and indeed in positive figures in the league. This suggests, defensively speaking, they are not as strong as their league standing implies. They can be got at but it requires patience tempered with the oxymoron of fastidious urgency.
Sloppy opponents who attempt to break Spurs down too quickly are hit on the counter and often punished by the elegant passing of Eriksen and Harry Kane’s incisive running from deep. Arsenal are an incredibly fit team who often benefit from flagging opponents struggling to muster the fight to defend after 80 minutes of onslaught but that won’t fly against Spurs and that is where the urgency comes into it. We must be meticulous with our attacking strategy but incisive and swift to secure the points by the final quarter of the game.
Spurs have developed a marathon level of conditioning often pushing opponents to the limit and then using their superior fitness to win games late on and turn over deficits so we’ll be well matched in that area and therefore must secure the points early .
In Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane they have the two players who have won the most points for their team in the league – in fact, Spurs have not won a game since late August where one of those two players hasn’t been on the scoresheet, keeping them quiet a la David Silva should see the Gunners emerge victorious from yet another North London Derby.
It won’t be easy keeping them both quiet though. Eriksen in particular is a threat from direct set-pieces whilst Kane will want to tattoo “he’s one of our own” in history by obliterating any doubts of where his true loyalty lies after pictures of his one youthful season in an Arsenal kit. For what it is worth, as much as I enjoy spud baiting, he isn’t one of ours and is most definitely one of theirs. Sol Campbell on the other hand, he’s one of our own….
- Spurs have kept only 1 clean sheet in their last 32 league games against Arsenal
- Arsenal’s 1-0 victory last season was their first at WHL since September 2007
- Walcott has scored 4 and assisted 3 goals in his last 6 Premier League appearances against Spurs
- Spurs have conceded the most penalties in the Premier League (6), Arsenal have won the most (6)
- Arsenal have not conceded in three league games
- Spurs have scored 20 goals in all competitions in 2015 – the most of any side
- This will be Wenger’s 45th NLD – he has only lost 6
- Eriksen is the highest scoring midfielder in the league with 9
- Arsenal are yet to win back to back away games in the league this season
- This is the 156th league meeting between these clubs – it is the most drawn fixture with 18
Arsenal are in good form, scoring goals, and generally keeping clean sheets (FA Cup aside) whereas away from the league Spurs are a bit up and down. As I said, these games are notoriously hard to call but I’ll be optimistic and go with my heart.
3-1 to Arsenal with goals from Giroud, Cazorla and Walcott.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .