Arteta - Arsenal manager
| |

Tottenham vs. Arsenal: Tactical Analysis From the Gunners 3-2 Win

We are witnessing the last days of the 2023–24 season of the Premier League. Liverpool are systematically out of the race after their draw with the Hammers, which means the title is between Arsenal and Manchester City. The Gunners’ visit to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium resulted in a 3-2 win for them and the league lead temporarily until the citizens play the same number of matches, hoping for a gift from Manchester City’s opponents.

Arteta kept the same line-up that secured a 5-0 win against Chelsea. Whereas, Ange Postecoglou switched three players who were starters at St. James’ Park. Ben Davies replaced Destiny Udogie, who picked up an injury to his left quadriceps in training. Yves Bissouma made way for Emile Hojbjerg in the midfield, and Kulusevski came in for Brennan Johnson.

Arsenal in Possession

In the beginning, Arsenal looked to go long, targeting Kai Havertz and relying on his ability to win the first ball and head it down to one of the runners.

Arsenal built their attacks by Declan Rice dropping next to Gabriel and William Saliba while the two fullbacks held the width on the same line vertically with Saka and Trossard. Kai Havertz and Ødegaard were in half spaces, while Thomas Partey operated in the central corridor.

Arsenal in Possession

Spurs 4-2-3-1 out of possession closed down any possibility of progressing centrally or around their press. That left one option for Declan Rice: play a long ball to Bukayo Saka.

Spurs formation

When Raya was involved in the construction phase, Declan Rice and Thomas Partey formed double pivots on different heights. In the first phase, Arsenal midfielders showed their technical abilities to bypass Tottenham’s high press.

See also  Youssouf Fofana: The Answer to Manchester United Midfield Woes?
Arsenal on goal kicks

Here, Bentancur went up to back up the press with Maddison. The duo is man-marking Arsenal double-pivots, while the centre-backs and the full-backs maintain the same positions as in the aforementioned paragraph. Maddison is closing down the option pass from Partey to Saliba, forgetting the possibility of the Ghanaian professional receiving the ball, turning with it, and carrying it up to find Saka in open body shape, ready to cut inside.

Arsenal setup

Tottenham’s press wasn’t perfect, as the front players didn’t time their runs to close down the passing lanes, which provided Arsenal defenders with time and distance to find the spare man. For instance, here, Son Heung-Min was late to prevent Raya from passing the ball to Gabriel. Tottenham players adopted a man-marking approach, which generated a central gap where Odegaard was free to receive and picked Bukayo Sala as always on the wing.

Tottenham's press

Arsenal Out of Possession

The visitors were settled in a usual 4-4-2 mid-block with a narrow and compact shape. Arsenal’s second line man-marked Spurs ‘key players between the lines, forcing them to go wide where their wingers get doubled up or to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper where the Gunners could apply their high-press.

Arsenal Out of Possession

Here, Thomas Partey is taking charge of Ben Davies; Trossard and Declan Rice are man-marking Maddison and Bentancur, respectively, whereas Saka is ready to go for Hojbjerg if the ball is on its way to him. Havertz and Odegaard are jumping over Romero and Van de Ven, which obligates Spurs’ players to play the ball backwards.

Arsenal setup out of possession

In Tottenham’s half, Arsenal left Van de Ven as the only option for the hosts to build their attacks. Once the ball is played, Odegaard runs towards him. However, the Dutch centre-back had time and distance to work out a way to progress with the ball.

See also  EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea Have Not Contacted Roberto De Zerbi Since He Left Brighton
Arsenal setup out of possession

Ange Postecoglou instructed Hojbjerg to drop between his two centre-backs, and the fullbacks to invert, which offers Tottenham the spare-man: Mickey Van de Ven. Arteta reacted quickly to edit the pressing shape and ordered Bukayo Saka to leave Ben Davies to Partey and go to press Van de Ven, Rice to back up and pursue Bentancur. The tweak made Arsenal ambush Spurs near the touchline and drive the Dutch centre-back to launch a mis-pass to make Arsenal turn over.

Arsenal setup out of possession

Tottenham were building up with a 2+1 shape. Arsenal’s front two, Odegaard and Havertz, were overloading Hojbjerg, which nullified any probability of progressing through him.

Arsenal setup out of possession

However, the inversion of the fullbacks and their runs down the channels were an outlet for Spurs to arrive into the Gunners’ box.

For instance, here Arsenal’s second-line players are in numerical match with Tottenham players (Porro, Bentancur, Maddison, and Davies). Maddison dragged Willian Saliba out of his position, and Davies made a diagonal run towards the vacated space to receive the long ball from Van de Ven. However, Saliba changed his mind in the middle of the action and pursued the Tottenham left-back instead of letting Maddison trap him.

Arsenal setup out of possession
Arsenal setup out of possession

The same pattern gets repeated on the other side of the pitch. Arsenal shift their block across, keeping a 4-4-2 mid-block, Romero finds Kulusevski on the right flank; Bentancur and Porro initiate the run down the right inside channel to receive the ball and look for the cross.

Arsenal setup out of possession

The inversion of the fullbacks helped Spurs put their wingers in 1v1 situations on the flanks. When Pedro Porro initiated his run to drag Tomiyasu with him to free Kulusevski on the touchline, Arteta instructed Trossard to go deep, forming a back line with five men to neutralise the hosts’ threat.

See also  Does Erik ten Hag Deserve a Chance Under INEOS Leadership?
Arsenal setup out of possession

Tottenham’s involvement in the final third played in the Gunners’ favour and allowed them to hurt their rivals on the counter. As Arteta said in his postmatch interview, ”The scoreline has an impact, but we looked like a real threat as well on the counter. They commit so many players forward.”

Arsenal scored their goal in a similar situation. Tottenham attacks with the most players and Arsenal’s counter-press allows them to cut the ball off and find ample empty spaces to attack. The process resulted in 8 players from the hosts’ side being out of the game. Rice passes the ball to Saka, who plays it instantly to Havertz and runs towards the free area in the Tottenham half.

Arsenal setup out of possession

The German professional launches a long ball to Bukayo Saka, who will deal successfully with Ben Davies and find the back of the net.

Arsenal setup out of possession

Despite Arsenal’s problems with the high press, they managed to take a win from the Spurs stadium by being compact in the mid-block, hurting them on the counter, and taking advantage of set-pieces. Three points keep them in the race with Manchester City until we see what happens in the next few weeks.

About The Author

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply