How the game was won – Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
After such an important and morale boosting victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday Tottenham simply let themselves down with a poor, uninventive performance bereft of defensive concentration at the Emirates this evening.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side, set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Theo Walcott the lone forward, played some fantastically fluid football in patches but there was always the feeling that the Gunners didn’t need to overly push themselves to force openings within the Spurs backline. Tim Sherwood who has taken the Spurs hot-seat championing exciting attacking football has every reason to be concerned with the lack of positional awareness shown by his back four this evening.
One of the crux points which contributed to Tottenham’s demise was the performance of Kyle Walker at right back. If you were to want to view a perfect example of how not to approach playing the right-back role, then this was it. Walker so often has been able to rely on his speed across the turf to recover mistakes and make up for his less than sound defensive awareness however today Arsenal in their movement and passing were just too clever for him.
Walker was all at sea in terms of positioning with the English right-back often drifting too central leaving a man open on the left-wing with Aaron Lennon doing next to no backtracking work. Just take for example Arsenal’s opening goal, a fantastic bursting run from Gnabry to create an opportunity for the hosts however Walker made up the teenager’s mind for him before the German had had a chance to do so himself by moving away from the right hand side to try and win the ball.
In the situation this was unnecessary and ill-advised as Michael Dawson was in fact shepherding Gnabry away from goal at an angle, if Walker had stayed with Cazorla on the left the pass would never have been on but in moving towards the ball a gap was created and Gnabry had no other option than to slot it in behind into the path of the Spaniard.
Whilst Spurs defensively were poor nothing can be taken away from the performance of Tomas Rosicky who was exceptional. If there was a performance which was to characterise the Czech’s resurgence over the past six months, then this was it. Rosicky covered so much ground, at an impressive pace.
He was centric to most of Arsenal’s attacks going forward often being the link-man between Walcott and Gnabry in the hole normally filled by Mesut Ozil. He also always made himself an option for Arteta to move the ball on which is always necessary when utilising such a flat and deep midfield pairing.
One of the more quietly important points to be made with regards to Rosicky’s movement and the broad distances covered by the former Dortmund man is that it gave Arsenal the fluidity to break forward and attack without Jack Wilshere having to roam too much from his deeper position in the centre.
Without Rosicky’s work across the midfield we would have more than likely seen Wilshere going too far forward, leaving Arteta too isolated in the middle and Arsenal overrun in midfield, just how Spurs actually were in the match as it turned out with Dembele and Bentaleb going too far forward out of position, leaving the back four little protection.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4
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