Spurs Preview: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mesut?

Mike Dean’s appointment vexes many with his open bias in favour of Tottenham prepped as a reason for defeat. We’re unbeaten in the last three derbies he’s officiated; he isn’t getting enough credit for those results, is he? Of course not. Dean may impact the game but we won’t be the reason lose.

It’s not even the biggest problem facing Unai Emery. That is what to do with Mesut Özil. Last weekend, he wasn’t robust enough to deal with Bournemouth; God knows how he will cope with the North London derby.

Özil is one of English football’s most gifted technicians and ought to be an automatic choice. Unai Emery’s lack of ‘favourites’ is to be applauded; the team is selected for the job in hand and reputations count for nought. However, Özil is surely a player whose ability the team should be built around? 

When you questioned Özil’s commitment previously, a slew of stats appeared showing how far he ran. For Unai Emery, this isn’t enough. It’s where you run and what contribution that makes to the cause. Özil is learning some painful lessons in that respect.

But this is a match which cries out for his talent but he must turn up in the same way Henry, Pires and Nicholas did. To produce the performances of a lifetime and make fools of Tottenham. Winning a derby is satisfying enough but to do so with one play running rings around them is even better.

Does Özil fit that bill? He can do if he’s in the mood. There’s something of a flat-track bully in him which is no bad thing but today needs more than that. This is an occasion, beyond a mere football match. It’s a time when the result matters and winning is the only result in town.

A Quiet Jens Lehmann

Whether Özil plays depends more on the formation than anything else, however. He doesn’t fit with the back three we saw employed at Bournemouth. Given our propensity for defensive cock-ups, Emery may decide the best way to deal with Kane, Eriksen and co is to employ three centre-backs.

With Iwobi on the left ahead of Torreira and Xhaka, that leaves the right-side to be filled. Iwobi on the right, Özil on the left is possible given Mkhitaryan’s form. A partnership of Ramsey and Iwobi on the flanks seems unlikely but more probable than a narrow midfield which offers little protection to Kolasinac on the left.

The one thing which is apparent is that Emery possesses plenty of options and isn’t afraid to use them. At what point, however, does thinking too much about the opposition overrun your own game plan. It must an integral part of it, that’s for sure, but too much thinking causes more than just brainache.

While attention focuses on the outfield players, David Seaman is impressed with Bernd Leno:

So far he has been brilliant. I don’t know what footed he is because he is that good with both. The only way you can tell is if he takes a goal‑kick. I am impressed by his shot-stopping ability and the other thing I like about him is he gets on with the save. He doesn’t try to make it look flash.

A quiet Jens Lehmann? Like Cech, Leno is busier than he expected but he is going about his business quietly and efficiently.

And this is a back three/four which needs a confident goalkeeper behind it. Cech took time to adapt to Emery’s methods and his uncertainty undermined an already unsure defence. Who, it must be said, undermined Cech with their harum-scarum defending.

Random Thoughts

Things are, however, coming together. You don’t get to 18 games unbeaten by fluke. One or two games, yes, but double-digits? Not having it. While the eulogies fly around the back pages, there’s a sense that Emery’s work is being undervalued.

Tottenham can buy into that all they want but in their golden age, they only have a half-finished metal toilet bowl to show for it. And a three-point gap this morning which means nothing at this stage of the season.

If you believe the reports, all the swamp dwellers have to do is turn up today. Phrases like “I genuinely fear for Arsenal” are great soundbites but in the good old days, were pinned to the dressing room wall for inspiration. Forget psychologists, the only thing needed after words like that is the whistle for kick-off.

Which players will cross that line? I’m guessing we’ll revert to a back four:

Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Iwobi; Aubameyang

Lacazette from the bench to preserve Aubameyang for Wednesday night in a week where the fixture computer had a brainfart much to the delight of the television companies. Three derbies on the same weekend featuring teams in the top six? What are the odds of a random fixture generator coming up with that? Almost as much as a draw in a heavyweight title fight being seen as an honest assessment of the 12 rounds.

It’s the sort of coincidence which makes you wonder if we’ll draw Tottenham in the third round of the FA Cup later today…

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

150 thoughts on “Spurs Preview: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mesut?

  1. Tidy work YW.
    So does the blazing saddle refer to the new sheriff for the game, or the two fellas making fools of all the onlookers?
    I guess our transatlantic posters might be better placed to comment, seeing as I didn’t make it past 2.30… ran out of beer ,and gin! Gotta hand it to Fury, he really doesn’t give a flying ferk what people think.

  2. Lacazette not to start? That’s giving me brainache. Love it .just had a flashback to 1970s . Funny, but I didn’t hate the Spuds so much then. I hadn’t met many supporters tho tbf.
    COYG

  3. > Arsenal 3 -Tottenham 1 is how I see the game ending.

    I, on the other hand, will see the game ending through an alcoholic haze…

  4. YW,

    As you say, a day for a new hero to reveal himself. One who’s story is em branded into the drunken psych of all those watching. To be rejoiced as nauseum when suitably imbibed.
    I do hope it’s Ozil. For the reasons you refer. If he gets involved and shines, then we will be on fire as a team. And he needs to justify his Chant. Love to hear That bellowing around ushering the Spuds fans exit!

    Happy daze

  5. Yogi, I think that is the team we will see. I would probably go with a back three and even play Laca and Auba up top in 3421 with Ozil behind them if Laca is fit. But it does give us little on the bench to change.

  6. Top post Yogi! Where is Bob with my trip down memory lane?!?!?

    I think people are reading WAY to much into the Bournemouth match regarding Ozil, he did start and play the full 90 against Liverpool which is a WAY bigger more high intensity match than Bournemouth everr will be.

    I think a 4 at the back and its a funny one but Mustafi has shown he plays better against big sides, guess we will see what happens.

  7. Leno and Torriera have been nothing short of brilliant and when you look at the spine of our team, it was once a problem area and now is one of the best in the PL.

  8. Leno
    Mustafi—Sokaritis—–Holding
    Bellerin—Torriera—Xhaka—Sead
    Mhkitaryan—-Aubameyang—Iwobi

    Subs: Cech, Lichtsteine, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Ramsey, Lacazette

  9. C,

    Severe case of dandruff? Ingrown toenail? Back spasm from sitting on the bench? I wish he was playing but perhaps Emery doesn’t. We’ll see what happens.

  10. LSG,

    Back problem is what I saw. We will see what happens moving forward, he was dropped against Bournemouth so lets see what happens against Manure.

    Need the boys in the squad today to do thr job and be the focus, especially Mhkitaryan.

  11. YW,

    After Sanchez it’s probably once bitten twice shy and all that. Can’t see anyone willing to pay the sort of money we’ve given him so all parties are probably stuck with it. Unless we loan him out (Turkey?) and subsidise his wages.

  12. Should Mhkitaryan struggle again, I would love to see Aubameyang/Lacazette/Iwobi getting after that Spuds defense who can be got it.

  13. Is Aubameyang the least talked about goal scorer leading(or joint leading) their league in all of world futbol?

  14. Great post yogi.

    Biggest game of the year. I thought I would check in. I think we win 2-1

    Interesting what will happen to ozil. Work ethic has never been his strong suit and he has always been a clear liability on the defensive side of the pitch. However no one really cared about that as long as he had enough positive influence on the attacking end. Unfortunately either his ability or desire to consistently provide that positive influence has really faded in the last 2 years. Without ozil providing a consistent positive influence on the attacking end he is definitely not an asset to the team and it makes sense to drop him

    A manager can’t do much to motivate a player with as many miles on his tread as Mesut. I think Emery has given him 1/3 of a season to try and renergize himself but it hasn’t worked. Now it’s time for Emery to play his trump card and send the strongest possible message short of selling him. I am skeptical that it will work but we can only hope. We have put together the unbeaten string without much help from Mesut so dropping him does not hurt our chances of getting a result. My respect for Emery has gone up several notches

  15. Mickis gotta run til he bleeds. Then Laca comes on for him and beasts them.
    Shame no ESR on the bench aswell. But our legs should be fresh anyhow
    COYG.

    Only saw last 10 of the Fulham game. I agree C. Looks like he enjoys it. Might get a sheckle back for him now.

  16. Penalty and yellow for Vertoghen who is playing against Aubameyang which means he could see red.

    Aubameyang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Top scorer and 1-0!!!

  17. Sokaritis sometimes is a bit overaggressive and we all know Spuds will immediately go down every chance they get

  18. And Ramsey and Alli going at it!!!!!

    Spuds went to celebrate infront of our subs and they didn’t like it.

    Leno should of saved that.

  19. Though why did nobody cover Dier at the front post?!?!??!?!

    Why the FUCK DID HOLDING SLIDE, THAT IS VERY POOR DEFENDING BECAUSE BELLERIN IS RIGHT THERE!!!

  20. We’re getting so many opportunities off the wings but we need an extra man running into the box. Bring on Laca for Mkhi? Or even Ramsey?

  21. Noon Gunner,

    I would bring Lacazette on for Mhkitaryan especially with Vertoghen on a yellow and their other CB looking shaky at best.

    Lacazette and Ramsey on at half for Mhkitaryan and Iwobi it looks.

  22. Somebody has to explain how Xhaka got a yellow for his tackle but Dier and Sissoko did the same against Torriera and neither were shown yellow….

  23. Unai’s pep talk doesn’t seem to have registered. We’re fouling as though we’re short of confidence that we can get back into this

  24. That ball from Bellerin to break the lines was sublimeas was rhe touch by Ramsey but that fucking finish from Aubameyang is WORLD CLASS!!!!!

    Aubameyang is World Class and sits atop the PL goal scoring table!!!!!

  25. Wish i hadn’t used up all my 2018 teleporting vouchers – I SO want to be in the stadium right now!

  26. Earlier in the week there were several pundits who said they would take Kane over Aubameyang or Lacazette….bit of humble pie being eaten so far

  27. Auba is like a man possessed the last ten minutes. I suspect having Laca next to him inspires him to push the limits.

  28. I fucking called it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Full credit to Ramsey for pressing and seeing Lacazette who had it all to do and WHAT A FUCKING FINISH with a bit of deflection!!!!!!!!!

  29. Just think Aunameyang, Lacazette, Sead, and Torriera have made the difference!!!

    Emery needed to take a seat because he has kicked, tackled and ran every mile with the players today

  30. Torriera has been MOTM but its by the absolute slightest of margins over Aubameyang who has been brilliant and a man possessed.

  31. Lacazette beat Vertoghen and off you go with a RED VERTOGHEN!!!!!

    That is a fucking nasty tackle with studs showing!!!

    Haha, Emery literally owns Pochettino even back to their days in La Liga. I think its something like 5 wins and 2 losses.

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