A North London Derby with More than Pride at Stake

This upcoming weekend could paint one of two very distinct pictures for Arsenal. The North London Derby could not have come at a better time for the Gunners. Coming off of a rather impressive display on Wednesday against a struggling Bournemouth side, accompanied by a fledging Tottenham side, presents the unique opportunity to come within a point of third in the Premier League table. For all intents and purposes, Arsenal have shown an ability to cope with their deficiencies in defense through an attacking force that on a good day can challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. Unfortunately, the consistency has simply not been there, but Emery’s men have the opportunity to continue to prove the critics wrong this weekend.

Arsenal have not been very successful against Spurs away with only one win in their previous ten meetings. Recent history is not on Arsenal’s side to come out with an all important three points. This match’s importance is further enhanced with the recent success of Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while Chelsea have been able muster together a few recent victories, including one against Tottenham. The race for the final two Champions League positions is quite narrow. Even the smallest slip up could conceivably cost a team millions of dollars and the opportunity to sign world class talent.

Emery must enter this North London Derby with conviction and intensity. He must be aggressive in his tactical approach. Tottenham will have chances against the weak Arsenal back line no matter if they play with three central defenders or two. Personally, Arsenal should employ a 4 back formation so as to not diminish the attacking opportunities. Arsenal need to play to their strength, which is in the final third. They need to utilize in form Mkhitaryan along with Iwobi and either Lacazette or Aubameyang . Emery will need Lucas Torreira to be the stop gap for any Tottenham threats through the middle of the park. He will be crucial in assisting Koscielny and Sokratis if either find themselves caught on the break. Ozil, is the interesting piece to the puzzle. He has shown time and again that he is unable to perform in big matches, but his ability to create opportunities out of nowhere are greatly needed to break down the Tottenham back line. As such, he needs to start on Saturday. He has played well since being cautiously welcomed back into the side by Emery. He must capitalize on Ozil’s recent run of form.

Arsenal have only two wins out of eight matches against top six sides this season. With a remaining fixture list that is quite friendly to Arsenal, the Gunners need to secure victory this weekend. It is obvious that Arsenal need to win, but the impact of a win on the mentality surrounding the club could bolster the squad to finish the season out strong. Their only big test after Tottenham in the Premier League is Manchester United at home. They only lost 1-0 in their last meeting at Wembley where Arsenal fans call a second home. If Arsenal can secure victory against Spurs, then the future seems incredibly bright to gain a top four finish and the chance to finish above Spurs in Emery’s first season at the helm.

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