Spurs Preview: Win At All Costs

This is it, the one game never to be lost. No peace, love and understanding in a match where bragging rights are secondary today. Win and Arsenal go top with the added sweetness of the misery it piles into the psyche of the Middlesex Pub Team. Lose and this will be the longest international break ever. Even though it will only be the usual fortnight.

Yesterday’s results should give the players a boost. No matter the performance didn’t merit a win, Middlesbrough’s draw at the Emirates can now be turned to a positive by Wenger and his phalanx of coaches and shrinks. Their draw at Manchester City opens up the prospect of being top going into November. Occupying that spot ought to imbue confidence in the players for the remainder of November which includes a trip to Old Trafford and PSG in the Champions League.

‘Ought’ is a powerful word. Today ‘ought’ to be a straightforward win for Arsenal. Unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the season, they face a team which has drawn four and lost two of their last six. Out of form, out of sorts and rushing their ‘star’ striker back from injury after an utterly abject performance in midweek.

But that’s out of the window. The footballing cliché has it that the form book doesn’t matter in a local derby, anything can happen. And with Tottenham is an enjoyably wretched state, there’s every reason to be confident of victory. As long as the players leave the complacency to the professionals, i.e. us, we’ll be in good shape.

Arsène has a number of selection choices today. Not headaches particularly but certainly decisions to make. At the back, I expect Nacho Monreal to return if fit. However, there’s no apparent rush in this one as Kieran Gibbs has done a good job as his deputy.

The biggest choice is midfield. Unless Arsène was being coy with the media on Thursday, Santi Cazorla is unlikely to be fit in time for today. The question of who replaces him ought to be straightforward: Mohammed Elneny. The Egyptian has played well at Sunderland and Ludogorets. Alongside him, I expect Francis Coquelin although Granit Xhaka is available following suspension.

The pair of them are alike in many respects. Temperamentally, Coquelin walks a tightrope and has a short fuse. Xhaka is prone to late tackles; the pair carry risks and you certainly wouldn’t want them side-by-side without a calming influence. I expect Arsène to keep faith in Coquelin today.

On the flanks, Alex Iwobi will most likely return on the left with Alexis leading the line. Tottenham struggled against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday with the Germans quick forwards and wide players exposing the hapless Walker and hopeless Davies. Rose isn’t much better than him so Walcott on the right seems the best option.

It’s harsh on Olivier Giroud but Spurs central pairing of Dier and Vertonghen would probably relish playing him. He’s more static than Alexis in terms of the areas he plays and the Chilean dropping deep to pick up the ball is a defender’s nightmare; if they follow they leave a gap, if they don’t the midfield is outnumbered.

Pace is going to be important today and having a Walcott and Iwobi wing pairing has the advantage of stifling the Tottenham full backs attacking instincts. Spurs have been Graham-esque in their play this season: tight at the back, unimaginative in attack.

That’s another motivation for winning today: ending their unbeaten. If there was ever a team which needed to be known as ‘the not-quite-invincibles’, it’s those from Middlesex.

All of which leaves the line-up:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal (Gibbs); Coquelin, Elneny; Walcott (Ramsey), Özil, Iwobi; Sanchez

The players and manager know what this means to supporters, that winning is all that matters. However much you want to look at the result in the context of a season, on the day winning is all that matters. The time for considering the impact of what the points gained or lost may mean has passed. The impact of dropped points mean is for a future day; today is all about winning.

A crushing win – sickening for them to endure – or a late winner which leaves them with a burning sense of injustice. Any win will do, even a rebound off the referee’s arsenal into the net. Winning is good and this fixture leaves no room for magnanimity.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

189 thoughts on “Spurs Preview: Win At All Costs

  1. C says:

    Ras,

    I think as he is still getting up to speed, he has a mistake in him but he is so good that you have to live with it, same with Kos.

  2. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    We’re just not at the races at the start. Sluggish and second best and then we come in to the game.

    Then interval and they come out like lions and we’re nowhere to be seen. It just baffles me every time.

  3. C says:

    Wavey,

    Tend to agree, Ramsey doesn’t do it for me, Ox would have been teh better sub coming on for Iwobi.

    Xhaka and Le Coq have been brilliant, hell the whole of our midfield has done well.

  4. C says:

    Theo and Iwobi off for Giroud and Ox.

    I like Giroud on for Iwobi but not sure why Theo coming off who is a much more threat to score than Ox.

  5. Ak says:

    C,

    Walcott been quiet plus he’s from injury

  6. C says:

    Remember when people would ask,where is Ozil, it feels like ages ago.

    Clattenburg has been lenient with Spuds today, no doubt about that.

  7. Wavey says:

    Spuds midfielders are serial foulers. No individual foul deserving of a yellow, but Clattenberg isn’t totting up.

  8. SV says:

    Thd second half really disappointing so far.

  9. C says:

    The one thing I want from Ox is to chase down balls more, those “almost lost causes” because of his blistering pace, he can get there.

  10. Wavey says:

    Alexis really isn’t very good at passing. So many of the balls he tries to thread go to the opposition.

  11. Wavey says:

    Can’t hide who he is with that mask. Can recognise him from his tattoos.

  12. C says:

    Wavey,

    Its why I don’t and NEVER will like him playing in the hole.

  13. Wavey says:

    Disappointing that we haven’t been able to maintain the energy of that 20 minute spell before half time.

  14. C says:

    Xhaka has been superb today!

    Not for nothing, but our subs havent made a single impact.

  15. SV says:

    post… would take a point right now, tbh.

  16. Wavey says:

    C,

    Just poor from him again. Can’t understand why his head drops so quickly. He doesn’t deserve to be playing if he can’t lift himself. Needs to go and reinvent himself elsewhere.

  17. C says:

    Problem now is that with Gioud and Ramsey on the pitch we simply can’t press.

  18. C says:

    Ox and Ramsey have added nothing. For all of Iwobi’s struggles with scoring goals, he still offers more than Ox because of his creativity.

  19. C says:

    Giroud should have done better, a free header in teh 6 yd box. that was fucking poor.

  20. C says:

    Wavey,

    Tend to agree, one poor pass and Ox’s confidence is gone. Shame because if h e can’t fight and stay up for it in a NLD then he never will.

  21. Ras says:

    There there there was OGs chance to ping against his fellow country man.

    Lack of width in this team has hamstrung us today. With OG Ramsey n Ox on the pitch we have no width.

    Sad to say it but look at Rosé and Walker before he went off. Have used the width of the pitch.

  22. mesutsleftfoot says:

    Ox and Ramsey are just not the quality needed….So many bad passes, too long in possession and bad shots from distance that didn’t need it….Ahh hate draws, Chelsea and Liverpool taking advantage this weekend.

  23. SV says:

    A draw. As predicted.

    Very average and disappointing. Wenger must have sung a lalabai during the break.

  24. C says:

    So a draw it is.

    Xhaka I thought was quality all match as was Ozil and Le Coq. Our FB’s were superb too and Theo cruelly hit the post.

    Shame that our subs made no difference in the match. We started the 2nd half poorly but the match clearly changed when Kos made that unnecessary tackle.

  25. Colts says:

    God Dam, shooting yourself in the foot is never a good look, disappointing.

    Still, tight game, didn’t lose.

  26. Wavey says:

    A point but really disappointed that we couldn’t keep the pressure on them. We looked dominant and should have turned the screw. They nicked a goal, but then probably had the better chances. The players on the pitch let themselves down and the manager would be wondering why they couldn’t lift themselves. I don’t think Wenger is the type to be able to lift players in that way though. It needs someone from the sidelines to be getting them going. If not Wenger then he needs a support staff who can do that job for him.

  27. C says:

    I would have preferred to have seen Sanchez/Giroud/Theo at least get 5-10 mins together before Arsene pulled off Theo.

  28. C says:

    Ramsey for Le Coq, better be disciplined.

  29. SV says:

    Played 3 big games at home and got 4 points out of 9. Top four contenders.

  30. C says:

    I think Iwobi needs to get a goal, he seems to be overthinking it instead of playing on instincts when he tries to score.

  31. Orson Kaert says:

    Very, very disappointed. Poor passing, mostly terrible attempts at clearances, almost all of them going straight back to Spurs players. Very grateful for their generosity in giving us an own goal and thus a point.

  32. Ras says:

    No matter which way you look at its2 points dropped. AW alluded earlier in the week that irrespective of the opposition you have to win your Home Games.

    The Dembele goal should have been avoided.He should have been stopped before getting into the penalty area.

    OG as we know is about like marmite you either like or you don’t. For all his aerial ability his lack of pace in the modern game is a problem.

  33. HenryB says:

    The hoodoo of the ‘table-topping game’ has struck again.

    Whenever we can go top by winning a particular game — we do not win it. Bugger!

  34. HenryB says:

    Orson Kaert:
    Very, very disappointed. Poor passing, mostly terrible attempts at clearances, almost all of them going straight back to Spurs players.Very grateful for their generosity in giving us an own goal and thus a point.

    So true, oh, great one — that is how I saw it too — all of them, but especially Sanchez, simply lost the ability to pass to an Arsenal teammate, altho he made a couple of lovely crosses that should have led to goals. Oh, well.

    You are disappointed? Me too. 🙁

  35. C says:

    HenryB,

    My biggest disappointment is our bench to be honest. Their lack of impact when they have all been lauded and praised against the likes of Sunderland and Ludogorets, but while they were present, the drop in quality was actually noticeable.

  36. Bill says:

    Great preview Yogi

    Obviously a disappointing result to drop points at home against a struggling Spurs team. I thought we were underwhelming for the most part at the attacking end but we get a great break with the own goal and then our defense can’t keep a clean sheet.

    We got bailed out against a very poor Sunderland team but after a great run early in the season, its the 3rd league game in a row that our line up of pacey forwards has been underwhelming. Pace is a good thing but its usually a mistake to overthink tactics such as pace, width or interchangability etc etc etc. I understand the theory behind attacking spurs with pace on the wing but IMO its a mistake to build your strategy based on tactical theory if it means leaving players who are more likely to score or in better form on the bench.

  37. Bill says:

    C

    Not much of a surprise that you are most disappointed with Ramsey Ox and Giroud.

  38. Orson Kaert says:

    With Cazorla unavailable it was inevitable that Ramsey would play some part in today’s proceedings, in a positive sense his impact was negligible, jogging around the pitch laying the ball off either laterally or behind him and taking wildly inaccurate pot shots when a better option was available to a more aware player.

  39. YW says:

    I’m not sure what pisses me off more. The poverty of our performance or the fact that immediately the own goal went in, the headline of “The Wimmer Takes It All” went through my mind and now I can’t use it.

    Bastards.

  40. SV says:

    Fourth into the break. Mohrinho next.

    Progress? Which progress?

    Wenger out.

  41. Ras says:

    C,

    C

    This is not an idiotic question but what are the positives from today?

    We have dropped 2 points At home again. A point is better than nothing of course.

    The Spuds had a somewhat depleted lime up today and we did not best them. That is the 2nd occasion that we have had the chance to put down a marker and have not risen to the challenge.

    I repeat again the lack of a ‘real left footed winger’ with pace to give balance and equilibrium hampers our fluidity.

    Iwobi is not a’winger’. He can do a job as he did today defensively but a team of Arsenals stature needs more going forward.

    When Ransey came our width disappeared. Both Sanchez and Ramsey have thstbatural tendency to drift into the middle of the pitch. It then even becomes more convoluted.

    It was not Vardy but Mane we should have been pursuing.

    Bless his cotton socks but with OG as one of striking options we are on a road to mediocrity. He has the occasional flashes that we all know. However his lack of pace in a modern game where you defend from the front hampers us severely in my opinion.

  42. Bill says:

    I agree with 2 of the subs. Giroud should have started instead of Iwobe and bringing him on made sense. I understand theory behind Ramsey for Le Coq. However, if the objective was to give us the best chance to score the winning goal then I don’t know why you bring on Ox and pull Theo. Arsene has often said he thinks Ox could be a midfielder and Arsene seems like he always wants someone with a midfieder skill set one wing. However, even if he is not having much impact in the game, Theo would clearly have been the more likely of those 2 players to score the winner.

  43. Bill says:

    On the other hand Theo had been injured so may be he was struggling more then we thought. If that was the case then bringing in Ox made sense

  44. SV says:

    Our results are a function of the opposition being not bothered/bothered to play.

    Today was a copy of the Sunderland away fixture. We get a goal in the first half, our CB makes a mistake and gives away a penalty in the second half. Even the following subs were similar. The difference was that Sunderland did not care, whereas the Tots stayed organized.

    Are ManU going to be bothered to play in 2 weeks? My guess is they think they will not have a better chance to turn around their season.

  45. Bill says:

    If mourinho gets manU on a roll this could be the toughest fight for the top 4 in this decade. Arsenal Man City ManU Chelsea Liverpool and perhaps even Spurs are in the mix.

  46. C says:

    Bill,

    It wasn’t because of their lack of impact, more the way it happened. Trust, I was disappointed in some of the mistakes Kos and Mustafi made, the fact Sanchez struggled to make a 5 yd pass but made a couple of brilliant plays to set up others and the fact Iwobi is overthinking his finishing.

    But with the subs, there was no impact that they should have had. With Giroud its always, we never put crosses in and how brilliant he is at headers, yet an inform Giroud with a completely free header hits it straight to Lloris. For all the chatter about Ramsey’s positive play over Elneny, it seemed Ramsey only knew how to pass it backwards or sideways to Xhaka and Ox, well lets just say I hoped and posted he should come on several times during the match and when he did, he wanted to played centrally instead of running at Rose who is at best a shit defender.

    We all want them to make an impact especially on the back of some of what those 3 have done recently but with them we don’t press and their impact didn’t do anything.

  47. C says:

    Ras,

    I thought Nacho was back to his best, Xhaka was really good, Ozil for all the shit he takes tried to drive us forward. Le Coq was active even though he was the one that should of done better against Dembele prior to Kos’ tackle.

    I agree about Mane and I even said numeroud times that Wjandum should have been ours.

    It makes you really wonder if Perez wasn’t injured, if he was that left footed player that would have started.

    Disappointing, absolutely and while Giroud, Ox and Ramsey are all good players, to get where we want they either step up or ship put. I know it might sound crazy, but I would have brought on Elneny for Le Coq to give us a passer and a plauer that would habe continued to press. People will probably give me shit for that but Elneny is a player that looks to play a pass and has them all in his locker.

    Its funny, we all discussed the impact of Ramsey and Giroud on our line-up upon their return and sure Sunderland and Ludogorets they looked good, but against contenders for top 6 places, they leave much to be desired.

    See good and bad 😉

  48. Bill says:

    C

    We all see what we expect to see and we tend to search for positives from our favorite players and find the less positive things for the ones that we don’t like as much. I do the same.

  49. C says:

    More on Giroud’s lack of impact…..just look at the difference between Janssen and Giroud, one came on and forced Cech into a really good save and made other impactful plays and Giroud head a tame shot at Lloris.

  50. nicky says:

    Dear me. As forecast in most local derbies, the game finished in a draw.
    Spurs remain unbeaten and Arsenal continue a similar run.
    And all the Wenger Out brigade, coupled with those supporters of a somewhat fickle disposition, launch into a doom and gloom mode.
    Arsenal didn’t lose and overall the team played well against Spurs, the masters of drawn games this season.
    Our attack didn’t quite blunt the Spurs defence as it did earlier against Chelsea.
    And a soft penalty plus a poor referee didn’t help.
    Those who follow Arsenal FC should always accept that our performance each game, will invariably depend on that of our opponents on the day. Sometimes we will prevail, other times we will not. 😉

  51. Bill says:

    Plan A be the player is in better form and has the higher upside irregardless of the tactical considerations. Plan B is everyone else.

  52. SV says:

    >>> Arsenal didn’t lose and overall the team played well against Spurs…

    I saw a different game. The team played well only in a short spell before the break. The second half was depressing. We were closer to conceding the second than to scoring. That’s how I saw it.

  53. Sam says:

    thought it was a poor game and very disappointed in the performance, although this is always what we serve up when there’s a chance to go top. The fact that it took at least 20 mins to come to terms with their back 3 set up is incredible, especially given as the team sheet was released and Wenger should’ve seen it coming. (Had a vision of whirlwind Conté changing the set up within 2 mins of the game starting if this had been his team).
    Have a horrible feeling that Ramsey will be first choice even when Santi is back fit again.

  54. Bill says:

    There are a few exception but Not many players do well consistently as impact subs.

  55. andy1886 says:

    Come on Santori, cheer me up. Tell me again what a terrible coach Klopp is and how he’s going to get fired before the end of the season. I could do with a laugh 😉

  56. C says:

    Bill,

    Problem is, Ramsey is set to either be an impact sub or be should be sold because Santi is a better player, Theo on the RW is so much better and with Arsene showing and talking about playing Xhaka as a box-to-box next to either Elneny or Le Coq, its his lot in this Arsenal side. Giroud, sorry after 4 years hot streak or not he has had his chance and wasn’t good enough, name another so called big squad that would even have Giroud let alone give him 4 years? Ox, sure he has great potential but nope.

  57. Dukey says:

    Well…That was as flat as Micheal Flatley in his flat watching flatliners.

  58. Dukey says:

    The spuds turned up to a boxing fight with one hand and we still couldn’t knock em out….the worry is is that we are on our good run here, and we’re 4th.

  59. SV says:

    Unbeaten runs are overrated. A loss and a win are better than 2 draws.

    Re. The good away form: we had relatively easy away games. We’ll know more in 2 weeks (don’t see a win over there).

  60. Bill says:

    Dukey @ 8:53

    5 points we dropped in the first 2 games when Arsene gave several of our important players the extra time off this summer look important now. Points in the first 2 games count just as much . Do you see any evidence to suggest that the extra long vacation our players had is helping them now? You can’t put rest in the bank and save it up for later.

  61. Bill says:

    C

    I agree about Ramsey. That is why I was campaigning for us to sell him when his value was so high last summer. $50M fo a squad player would have gone a long way towards the cost of another goal that we need. If we had bought a better player then we would not need to be talking about Giroud.

  62. Bill says:

    C

    We should have bought another scorer last summer. we need goal scorers if we had someone better it would be different but without Giroud scoring we don’t have enough firepower on the team. We are very unlikely to challenge for a title this season with only Walcott and Sanchez scoring in double figures in league goals. I know you don’t like Giroud but he would have given us a better chance to win if he had started today. Every point is important and the head has to over rule the heart when Arsene decides who to use.

  63. Orson Kaert says:

    Bill,

    Ramsey is going nowhere, for some reason Wenger rates him highly and wouldn’t countenance selling him. Sadly no other club is even talking up the idea that might like to play for them. His position in the Welsh squad is not in danger even if he doesn’t get regular starts in the Arsenal team. He’s on good money and comfortable where he is. Why would he leave of his own accord? It seems we’ve got him for the foreseeable future.

  64. Dukey says:

    An interesting stat I have found out about concerning our goals conceded, We have conceded 7 of our 11 goals in the proceeding 30 mins after half time, someone noted above about wenger singing a lullaby at half time. that might not be far from the truth. maybe he puts on his edith piaff lp’s. I mean what the hell do they do at HT? we sure do come out cold and on the back foot for the next 15 to 30 mins , then we finish the game very strong just like we start the game strong. its that spell directly after ht that is the problem it seems.

  65. Dukey says:

    I think the Ramsey criticism is overboard, He is a fine player that brings something different, just because he doesn’t run at 100 miles an hour with the ball at his feet, or has ocd when it comes to his passing stats.

  66. nicky says:

    @Andy 1886,
    If you want to laugh or at least smile, think of (a) what we are certain to inflict on Man Utd at OT on the 19th……OR (b) marvel about your new grandchild…….. 😉

  67. Dukey says:

    I agree with Bill, Giroud should have started, it’s not hindsight either, we use him whilst his tail is up.

  68. consolsbob says:

    Something wrong with your thinking there, Nicky. Surely our defence should be blunting their attack while our attack pierces their defence.

    For a respected elder your grammar in that instance rivals that of my grandchildren and the BBC.

  69. Dukey says:

    I also agree with bronco Bill again, certain people have their favorites and they have players (bloggers)they don’t like. and they will see things to fit their own narrative.

  70. Bill says:

    Orson

    I agree with Dukey. The criticism of Ramsey is over the top. He does not hurt us. However, I don’t think he has shown any signficant upside since 13/14. . He can fill slots when we have injuries or suspensions but he does not do much that helps to improve our chance to win. Unless he can somehow regain some of his form from 13/14 his ceiling is squad player.

  71. C says:

    Bill,

    We should have bought a goal scorer, like it or not, I think Perez was the player Arsene counted on and he was showing good before he got injured. We need another one make no mistake. Giroud, well, he does it against small teams and not so much to my mind against contenders.

  72. C says:

    Dukey,

    Tend to agree with Bill, and its what I have said; Ramsey is a good player, the problem is our starting XI has gotten stronger and he hasn’t continued to develop or accept his Milner type role of fitting in everywhere but holding down a particular spot the problem is, unlike Milner he isn’t impactful unless the team plays to his strengths. People that judge Ramsey based on what he did for Wales might need to remember that their team is built around and for he and Bale; that will NEVER happen at Arsenal because the role he wants to play is occupied by Ozil and then Santi.

  73. Bill says:

    Perez was a low cost punt who had a one career season at age 27 or 28. He scored a couple goals in an early round league cup game but that is no more meaningful then Ox scoring twice against Reading. I am not sure what Perez has done to make you think he was showing good. Not buying a goal scorer this summer means we need to use Giroud and hope we can catch his hot spell.

  74. Dukey says:

    Ramsey was our player of the season in 2014. but its almost a stick with which to beat him with now isn’t it. he is shit now because he can’t produce what he did then. ..I see the opposite, if a player has gone to that level once then their is no reason why he cant show it again and it is obviously in their locker. Someone like denilson could never perform well and would even be outperformed in midfield against a bunch of slow old defenders, now that is a player who you could write off.

  75. C says:

    Bill,

    He was but he wasn’t just showing in goals(goals against anybody count my friend), but the workrate and that left footed LW that we want but also he could play CF(he was showing a physical side) and have Sanchez at LW.

  76. nicky says:

    @consolsbob,
    In my day we first blunted the rival defence until it cracked, to allow our attack to prosper unheeded.
    And we had very few ankle injuries because our boots were designed to protect that area. Something which appears to be forgotten today.
    My respectful regards to your grandchildren. Cherish them now because they grow up far too fast. 😉

  77. C says:

    Dukey,

    Denilson put in quite a few good performances and scored some quality goals. His biggest mistake was that he never found consistency. Problem with Ramsey is that Ozil, Santi, Xhaka are in front of him so he is no longer guaranteed a starting berth and if he can’t perform as an impact sub, he won’t see regular match time.

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