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Paulo Dybala nears Palermo exit as bidding war begins

Paulo Dybala has enjoyed a prolific season in Serie A and has attracted both Arsenal and Juventus.

Paulo Dybala has enjoyed a prolific season in Serie A and has attracted both Arsenal and Juventus.

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

Paulo Dybala is set to be the subject of an intense bidding war between Arsenal and Juventus with Palermo owner Maurizio Zamparini claiming a sale will take place in April with Dybala’s representatives having been given permission to travel to both London and Paris to seek offers for the 21-year-old forward.

We will sell Dybala by the end of April, Pierpaolo Triulzi has the green light from me and is going to Paris and London to listen to offers, then we’ll evaluate them together.

Dybala has enjoyed a prolific season in Serie A netting thirteen goals in twenty nine appearances attracting the interest of Arsene Wenger who may eventually be put off by Palermo’s £30million asking price.

Palermo have found the crux of their business model in identifying talented young players from South America and presenting them with a pressure free environment to begin their career in Europe before selling them to a major force for a sizable profit. The names Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani spring to mind as two of the more recent examples of Zamparini’s business model.

It is difficult to see just where Dybala would fit in at Arsenal given the wealth of attacking talent already at the club.

There is a real fear that Theo Walcott may leave the club sooner rather than later with the club’s hierarchy believed to be particularly unenthused at the prospect of dealing with the 26-year-old’s representatives in contract talks once more which would perhaps present an opening for Dybala.

The futures of Joel Campbell and Tomas Rosicky are also in doubt as we approach the summer transfer window with the Costa Rican World Cup star having been unable to impress at the Emirates before being loaned to Villarreal as part of the Gabriel Paulista transfer.

The move itself would represent a significant shift away from Arsenal’s prudent transfer policy over the past decade. Of course the London club have shown their ability to part with huge fees to attract the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez over the past two summers yet spending such a significant figure on a player with just two seasons of top-flight experience is a certain risk which doesn’t entirely fit with Arsene Wenger’s ethos.

The Frenchman has been known to take a chance of players over the course of his spell with Arsenal but never at such a sizable fee with only Francis Jeffers and Jose Antonio Reyes being expensive disappointments at the club. Wenger has often had much more success when taking players for very low fees and moulding them into first-team stars for example Alex Song and Kolo Toure.

It is believed that Juventus remains the player’s first choice with Dybala himself having publically spoken of his admiration for the Italian Serie A and its teams,

As I child I followed all championships, but always chose Italian teams on the PlayStation. I love all the championships for their diversity, but Italy remains the best choice for players from Argentina, especially because of the importance given to tactics.

AS Roma hold an interest in the player too but following last season’s expensive pursuit of Juan Iturbe it would be a surprise if the club were able to commit financially to Dybala and Palermo.

Juventus themselves may well be facing a summer of change with the club expected to reshuffle their forward line. The long pursuit of Fernando Llorente from Athletic Club has ended up being a disappointment with the Spaniard having not replicated the quality shown with the Basque club in Turin.

Carlos Tevez may also leave Juventus this summer with the former Manchester United and City striker believed to desire a return home to Argentina with former club Boca Juniors. Tevez’s contract in Turin runs until June 2016 however the Italian giants may well allow the 31-year-old to leave a year early especially given the quality he has provided in European competition with Juventus set to reach their first Champions League semi-final for over a decade.

If Juventus were to part with the £30million required to sign Dybala it could well be the deal which kick-starts the transfer market in earnest with the futures of Domenico Berardi and Simone Zaza then becoming an issue.

Berardi is currently on loan at Sassuolo from Juventus and with the 20-year-old forward having twenty six Serie A goals in his two seasons with Sassuolo it is expected the Italian champions will bring him back to the club. If Juventus were to sign Dybala then there would have to be numerous departures in the forward line to avoid a bloated squad.

Zaza on the other hand is a player who was sold to Sassuolo outright by Juventus on the condition that Juve could buy him back for £11million this summer. Zaza has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Sassuolo scoring eight league goals along with being handed his first Azzurri cap by Antonio Conte. If Dybala was signed it would make such a deal wholly unlikely and could bring Tottenham Hotspur back into play with the London club holding a strong interest in 23-year-old Zaza.

Paris Saint-Germain are a club on the periphery of the Dybala transfer saga with it seeming more likely that the player’s representatives are attempting to drum up interest from the French giants. PSG may wish to rejuvenate their forward line this summer with Zlatan Ibrahimovic approaching the end of his career and Edinson Cavani enduring a second straight difficult season in France.

However given the Financial Fair Play restrictions placed upon the club last year, they have to be very careful in monitoring their spending and with home-grown players regulations always a worry it could be the case that Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette would be their preferred option.

Palermo would welcome the cash injection from the sale of Dybala with it still as yet unclear as to whom may replace the skilful Argentine. Former Real Madrid youth prospect Alberto Bueno, now plying his trade with Rayo Vallecano, has been muted as one possible target for the Italian club who sit eleventh in Serie A, just three and four points behind Internazionale and AC Milan respectively, in their first season back in the top-flight.

Palermo may also have to contend with another departure this summer with Dybala’s partner in crime Franco Vazquez also muted to be heading towards the exit door at Renzo Barbera.

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Real Madrid stars look ahead to European Cup Final

Written by Chris Winterburn

Ahead of Saturday’s European Cup final between newly crowned La Liga Champions Atletico Madrid and fierce rivals Real Madrid a number of Carlo Ancelotti’s players have been speaking about the honour of finally playing in a European Cup final and just what it would mean to be able to complete Real’s pursuit of La Decima with a victory over their most unloved of adversaries.

Lisbon and Adidas prepares for Saturday's UEFA Champions League final. Photograph courtesy of Adidas.

Lisbon and Adidas prepares for Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final. (Photograph courtesy of Adidas)

Angel di Maria has really enjoyed a breakthrough season at the Bernabeu under Carlo Ancelotti. After reportedly being one of two names the former Milan boss had to choose from to be sold last summer, di Maria earned a stay of execution through Cristiano Ronaldo who reportedly asked for the Argentine not to be sold and the former Benfica winger has certainly delivered.

There was absolutely no question about his talent however during the Jose Mourinho era at Madrid it appeared as though di Maria struggled to play with a team ethos and often that contributed to rather unbalanced Real Madrid teams, particularly in the UEFA Champions League. This term however it has been a completely different story.

The arrival of Gareth Bale was expected to spell the end for di Maria however the Argentine has thrived. His overall game has improved and a willingness to work across the line to support either Marcelo or Fabio Coentrao and this has earned him a key place in Ancelotti’s team. The crowning moment was the display in the most recent La Liga Clasico in late March. Di Maria was arguably the best player on the pitch and was a key element in Madrid’s three goals.

Di Maria’s performances in Europe have been equally impressive and it is expected he will play a key part in Saturday’s Lisbon showpiece with the former Benfica suggesting it to be a dream to play in a European Cup final,

“The truth is that to be in the Champions League final is a dream come true. There have been a lot of seasons where I have only reached the semi-finals, and missing the opportunity of reaching the final. It’s a real joy to be part of this final.”

Angel di Maria is an adidas ambassador and wears the Predator Battlepack boots. For more information visit www.adidas.co.uk/worldcup or to join the conversation visit @adidasUK #allin or nothing

Asier Illarramendi has found first team opportunities rather limited since his £32million move to the Bernabeu last summer however the clever midfielder may well find himself thrust into action on Saturday evening courtesy of Xabi Alonso’s suspension.

Illarramendi was touted as the long-term successor to Xabi Alonso in the Real Madrid team although it appears this season has been rather more of a tool to get Illarramendi acclimatised to life with Los Blancos. When he has played he has impressed with a neat range of passing complementing the midfield tempo nicely and it is expected he will be more of a regular feature next season as Xabi Alonso enters his thirty third year

“We are fine. I think that during the season we have been up and down but now we are fine. We have the desire, the hope and above all the commitment to win it. Atletico will be a really difficult rival. This year they had an incredible season. But we are excited, motivated and we must win.”

A key point to pull out from that quote is the significance of the final three words, ‘we must win’. Defeat is not an option for Real Madrid on Saturday. After waiting twelve long years to reach another European Cup final since their triumph in Glasgow the club is finally in a position to complete La Decima, which according to former player Fernando Hierro has become ‘an obsession’.

Asier Illarramendi is an adidas ambassador and wears the Nitrocharge Battlepack boots. For more information visit www.adidas.co.uk/worldcup or to join the conversation visit @adidasUK #allin or nothing

Angel di Maria has enjoyed a phenomenal season under Ancelotti and claims it is a 'dream' to take part in a Champions League Final.

Angel di Maria has enjoyed a phenomenal season under Ancelotti and claims it is a ‘dream’ to take part in a Champions League Final. (Photograph courtesy of Adidas)

Twenty one year old centre forward Alvaro Morata has been another bright point to come out of Real Madrid’s campaign. Whilst he isn’t playing as much as perhaps he would at other clubs due to the performances of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, Morata has still contributed a healthy nine goals in all competitions and the home-grown talent is eagerly anticipating Saturday’s final and the positivity it will bring to Spanish football,

“I think it’s a tremendous joy for Spanish football and for the city of Madrid. I’m very proud. I was born here in Madrid and the truth is that this is something really great. It will be a hotly disputed final, two teams which have had a very good season, especially with this trophy. The best team will win, and we hope to win.”

Alvaro Morata is an adidas ambassador and wears the Adizero F50 Battlepack boots. For more information visit www.adidas.co.uk/worldcup or to join the conversation visit @adidasUK #allin or nothing

Much has been made of the impact Carlo Ancelotti has made at Real Madrid. After going through ten coaches since the 2002 final it finally appears as if the club has found the man to guide the team in Europe.

He is a coach who can keep control of the squad without being too divisive. Ancelotti’s experience as this level is well documented and both Alvaro Morata and Asier Illarramendi are keen to publicise the impact he has had on a team who finally looks to be reaching its undoubted potential,

AI: “He [Ancelotti] is a man that generates confidence. He is a quiet man and all the football players feel comfortable with him. He is helpful and the coaching staff in general is very good.”

AM: “The coach brought maturity most importantly he was a football player. He knows the players’ way of thinking, their behaviour and that’s important. If a player is not ok or needs help from the coaching staff, the coach knows it: he has been in the same situation as a football player.”

Alvaro Morata, Angel di Maria and Asier Illarramendi have all been speaking to Adidas this week in order to promote the newly released ‘World Cup Battle Pack’ boot range.

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

My appearance on WorldFootballDaily talking Premier League transfers and midweek fixtures. 28.01.2014

Hi Guys,

Just a quick update today, I was a featured guest on the acclaimed WorldFootballDaily  show (http://www.worldfootballdaily.com/) to talk about all things Premier League in a week with a full midweek fixture card. I am delighted to say the link to my interview is now live and you can listen to it by clicking the following:

http://www.worldfootballdaily.com/pg/jsp/charts/audioMaster.jsp?dispid=307&pid=20434

 

Be sure to let me know what you think.

 

Thanks Guys!

How the game was won – Chelsea vs Stoke City

January 26, 2014 1 comment

Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City

Stoke City yet again set up in a formation which catered for three midfield players in a central position. Whilst slightly different to the 4-3-3 utilised against Liverpool a number of weeks ago in the sense Stephen Ireland pushed slightly further up, Stoke City were again far too flat in midfield and made it a comfortable afternoon for Chelsea without Jose Mourinho’s side having to get out of second gear.

This shows how Geoff Cameron stood off Eden Hazard this afternoon. The black circle indicates the gap between the two players and whilst it may not seem significant it opens up numerous other avenues for Hazard as indicated by the yellow arrows. He has the time to make a decision and the quick feet to leave a back tracking Cameron behind. This was systematic of Stoke's approach and the visitors really let Chelsea play and dictate terms.

This shows how Geoff Cameron stood off Eden Hazard this afternoon. The black circle indicates the gap between the two players and whilst it may not seem significant it opens up numerous other avenues for Hazard as indicated by the yellow arrows. He has the time to make a decision and the quick feet to leave a back tracking Cameron behind. This was systematic of Stoke’s approach and the visitors really let Chelsea play and dictate terms.

Stoke’s midfield trio of N’Zonzi, Ireland and Palacios did not entertain the idea of pressing, Lampard and more importantly Matic, on debut, were both given time on the ball and Stoke invited pressure upon their defence. With Lampard and Matic not closed down it was easy for either of those two players to make a small amount of ground going forward and then move the ball onto either Schurrle on the right or Hazard on the left.

Hazard was a real handful all afternoon long, right from the first five minutes where the Belgian got a measure of Stoke’s Geoff Cameron at right back, beating him at pace with consummate ease.

Chelsea’s comfort in possession through Stoke’s lack of pressing was made evident by the movement of Frank Lampard. The experienced  midfielder was afforded such time and space when in possession that he could move ahead of Matic and stay roundabout in that position just behind Eto’o, level with Oscar. Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 system was fluidly changing into a 4-1-4-1 as Stoke allowed it to. This is a formation that is very effective when used by a team who controls possession as we have seen with Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich side this season and Chelsea in this shape gave Stoke barely any chance of getting back into the tie.

Stoke did make some attempt at pressing Chelsea but in both the wrong areas and in the wrong way. Stoke’s midfield would allow Matic and Lampard to bypass them with passes into the attacking midfielders but then Stoke’s defence would rush forward and try to win the ball through the back of a Chelsea player. This proved to be a problem as it put several of Stoke’s defenders on a card and led to the host’s goal with Oscar dispatching a resulting free-kick.

It is very difficult as a team of Stoke’s stature to go to a Stamford Bridge or an Old Trafford and try and force yourself upon the game. It is very easy to sit back and hope to catch the hosts on the break, however Stoke’s management of Hazard on the left hand side was poor. You can’t let a player of Hazard’s quality and quick feet run at you, you have to make it difficult for him by close marking and restricting movement, as soon as you invite Hazard to run at you, he’s gone by you as Geoff Cameron found out too many times this afternoon.

Look how different the situation would have been had Geoff Cameron not stood off Hazard, yet had actually pressed the Belgian and stuck close too him. Hazard's options would have been reduced as Cameron would have been close enough to him to track his movements, from this position it would have taken a real moment of brilliance from Hazard to escape Cameron and create a chance for Eto'o.

Look how different the situation would have been had Geoff Cameron not stood off Hazard, yet had actually pressed the Belgian and stuck close too him. Hazard’s options would have been reduced as Cameron would have been close enough to him to track his movements, from this position it would have taken a real moment of brilliance from Hazard to escape Cameron and create a chance for Eto’o.

Chelsea’s attacking midfield trio of Hazard, Schurrle and Oscar were fantastic, although their afternoons were made easier by Stoke’s timid approach. The movement of those aforementioned players was fantastic with the three interchanging positions throughout the match making it difficult for Stoke’s defenders to stick to a single man in terms of marking. Had it not been for Chelsea’s worryingly characteristic profligacy in front of goal, Stoke could have found themselves on the end of a sizably bigger defeat.

Marko Arnautovic has been picked out as Stoke’s best player this season and has at times shown this to be true with some outstanding individual displays however Jose Mourinho’s former player at Internazionale was poor this afternoon. Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic both were given easy afternoons with Arnautovic not really testing either of them with a direct run. In fairness Stoke seldom had the ball in a position to provide Arnautovic good service.

This is not a massive disaster for Stoke, there was very little expectation upon Mark Hughes’ side to get a result, as there wasn’t against Liverpool earlier this month however if Stoke are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle, Mark Hughes will have to come up with a different way of playing against teams around them as the flat three man midfield who don’t press the opposition will not win the club matches.

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

How the game was won – Stoke City vs Liverpool

Stoke City 3-5 Liverpool

Stoke City opted for a team selection which should have given them a great versatility in midfield, in selecting Whelan, N’Zonzi and Adam as three central midfielders the potential to play a 4-2-3-1 system which easily formed a 4-3-3 system should the situation require it was in evidence. However Stoke simply played with a flat three in midfield with Charlie Adam occasionally venturing forward and this is what led to the host’s consistent downfall throughout the match.

We can see here the flatness of Stoke's midfield three. The yellow arrows indicate how easy it was for the deeper Liverpool midfielders to pass through them and take them out of the game due to Stoke's flat line. This then put immense pressure on Shawcross and Wilson who had been offered no support from the midfield. The two black lines also indicate Stoke's further midfield failing as it illustrates the gap between Stoke's midfield and Liverpool's. There was no pressing from Stoke and Liverpool could keep possession and think about the killer pass which would take the Stoke midfield out of the move completely.

We can see here the flatness of Stoke’s midfield three. The yellow arrows indicate how easy it was for the deeper Liverpool midfielders to pass through them and take them out of the game due to Stoke’s flat line. This then put immense pressure on Shawcross and Wilson who had been offered no support from the midfield. The two black lines also indicate Stoke’s further midfield failing as it illustrates the gap between Stoke’s midfield and Liverpool’s. There was no pressing from Stoke and Liverpool could keep possession and think about the killer pass which would take the Stoke midfield out of the move completely.

Liverpool did not put in a great performance worthy of the five goals they scored, in fact aside from Luis Suarez there is an argument to suggest nobody on the Liverpool side had better than a ‘good’ game. However one thing Liverpool did excellently was retain the ball in the midfield and inside their own half, the midfield duo of Steven Gerrard and Lucas held things together solidly and we even some glimpses of movement from Lucas into an attacking midfield position just like he had played at Gremio with Henderson dropping deeper to cover the gap.

With Stoke’s flat midfield three there was very little pressing of Liverpool when the visitors had the ball inside their own half and as such ball retention was relatively straightforward for the Liverpool midfield. Furthermore with Stoke’s flat three man midfield there was little thoughtful movement and Liverpool could easily pass through and beyond them and take three Stoke players out of the game completely which put Shawcross and Wilson under significant pressure from Suarez’s excellent pressing game.

Stoke’s flatness in midfield was the cause of their downfall not only defensively but also going forward, it invited pressure from Henderson, Gerrard and Lucas. Stoke were not afforded the same time on the ball that Liverpool were in midfield and this is why we saw Stoke giving the ball away in poor areas and thus making Liverpool’s afternoon a lot easier than it should have been.

Stoke held arguably their only real good spell of the match between the thirty seventh and forty seventh minute of play and even then their first goal came out of nothing after some good work from Arnautovic on the left before finding Peter Crouch in the middle unmarked courtesy of some poor Kolo Toure defending. Stoke’s second goal then came from a mistake with Liverpool giving the ball away from a goal kick.

Jack Butland received one of his few opportunities to start in the Stoke goal yesterday and impressed, making particularly good saves to deny Luis Suarez and later Daniel Sturridge but was let down by the lack of protection his defence was given by the midfield as well as the individual errors made by members of the defence. You hope this is recognised by Mark Hughes and the young goalkeeper isn’t dropped for the next fixture despite seeing five goals put past him at home.

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

How the game was won – Manchester City vs West Ham United

Manchester City 6-0 West Ham United

West Ham United set out in a 4-3-3 formation for the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final this evening in the hope that the three man midfield would be able to withstand the likely barrage it would face from City’s potent attack. Sam Allardyce veered away from his usual 4-2-3-1 system used at West Ham due to the sizeable gaps that get created in between the lines with such a flat two man midfield as anybody who has watched Swansea City regularly this season can confirm.

Manchester City's fifth goal illustrates West Ham's defensive frailties perfectly. The two red circles indicate mistakes by the relevant defender, for example the first is Guy Demel being out of position and not tracking the run of Gael Clichy. The second is the initial positioning of Andy O'Brien in the box, he is too far away from Dzeko and as a result is not able to get close to the Bosnian as he was on the end of the cross.

Manchester City’s fifth goal illustrates West Ham’s defensive frailties perfectly. The two red circles indicate mistakes by the relevant defender, for example the first is Guy Demel being out of position and not tracking the run of Gael Clichy. The second is the initial positioning of Andy O’Brien in the box, he is too far away from Dzeko and as a result is not able to get close to the Bosnian as he was on the end of the cross.

Throughout the evening Manchester City perfectly illustrated the art of impressing without actually trying too hard, almost every single goal was gifted to them by a woeful defensive performance from the visitors. Take nothing away however from the performances of Alvaro Negredo who scored his second hat-trick for the Eastlands club and David Silva who pulled the strings effortlessly from just behind the two forwards.

The key factor of how the 6-0 result came to be was West Ham’s simply awful defending. Admittedly it was the first time the central defensive partnership of Roger Johnson and Joey O’Brien had played together yet it evidently looked like it on the pitch. The first goal was a prime example of the slack concentration in the minds of the two West Ham centre halves, a route one pass from the middle of midfield somehow caught O’Brien and Johnson both flat-footed and Negredo had ultimately no offside trap to beat in order to get into the position to score an excellent opening goal.

Things didn’t get any better for West Ham at the back, there were no lessons learned throughout the ninety minutes with Joey O’Brien monumentally out of position for Yaya Toure’s goal and Manchester City’s third, leaving Roger Johnson too much to do on his own with Guy Demel unaware of the situation and the need to move across and cover for the absent O’Brien.

Manchester City passed the ball around well, especially in the middle of midfield with Javi Garcia putting in a quiet yet impressive shift alongside Yaya Toure and later Martin Demichelis however West Ham’s defensive movement far too often created a huge gap particularly on the left wing which made up the mind of a City player before he had chance to make it himself.

Guy Demel was caught out of position too often at right-back and one of David Silva or Samir Nasri made a run into the space and put several good crosses into the box and it was only courtesy of West Ham’s man of the match, goalkeeper Adrian that the scoreline didn’t move into double figures.

The fifth and penultimate goal added final insult to injury for West Ham when Joey O’Brien was caught completely lost inside his own penalty area and allowed Edin Dzeko to get a run on him and then slot the ball into the back of the net with O’Brien scrambling to reach the Bosnian, the lack of awareness that was evident throughout the night was illustrated perfectly in that one goal.

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4

How the game was won – Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur

Cazorla goal, Walker error with arrows

The solid yellow arrows illustrate Michael Dawson’s movement pattern and how it was forcing Gnabry away from the Spurs goal and as such, any danger. Walker’s move inside left Cazorla on his own and the blue dashed arrow shows the gap that was created for the pass to go through and Cazorla to run in behind and latch onto. The red circle illustrates where Walker should have remained instead of being dragged into a poor position due to ball watching.

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