Premier League Week 6 – Sunday 26 September 2021 – Emirates Stadium
Arsenal Match Preview
Three wins in a row, three clean sheets, the the squad is fully fit and it finally feels like some of the gloom from the early part of the season is starting to lift. Despite the positive string of results, Arsenal need to be wary as they head into the North London Derby against a Spurs side with a point to prove following their recent dip in form.
The recent Arsenal performances feel like this group of players are finding their feet and understanding their role in Mikel Arteta’s setup. There’s a sense of fluidity when you look at how players move around the pitch and cover in various positions, filling in for teammates that are pushing further up the field. The recent experiments with 4-3-3 have offered dominance against weaker opponents, while the 4-2-3-1 seems to be the go-to option when both Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka are fit as both play a key role in the coaches game-plan. Having Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka in the team allows Arteta a degree of flexibility in how the attack lines up and the trio are more than capable in switching flanks or operating from deep.
Heading into this match, there’s a sense of stability to the team, aided in large part by the return of Gabriel and the inclusion of Takehiro Tomiyasu to the lineup. Both players have been seamless in their recent defensive displays, Tomiyasu showing aerial dominance in the box while Gabriel has only improved his reading of the game. Ben White is seems to be finding his feet for the moment and had a few worrying moments against Burnley, but he and the Brazilian are the centre-back pairing of choice for Arteta and the more they feature, the better their understanding of one another’s game.
Derby games are always tough to predict as they stand in isolation to all other matches. We may be the more in-form team of the two sides, aided by home advantage, but Spurs will no-doubt be looking to cause an upset and will inevitably raise their game following a thumping at the hands of Chelsea last weekend. I’d expect us to have more of the ball with Spurs content to sit a little deeper, but we’ve been wasteful in recent games, especially the slender 1-0 wins over Burnley and Norwich. This is a game where we need to make our chances count.
Bernd Leno looks to have reclaimed his spot between the sticks for now and the back line picks itself: Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel and Kieran Tierney are all expected to start. Xhaka and Partey will likely play in midfield with Odegaard, Smith Rowe and Saka supporting Aubamayeng in attack.
Probable Arsenal lineup:
4-2-3-1: Leno; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Odegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang
Probable Tottenham Hotspur lineup:
4-3-2-1: Lloris; Royal, Romero, Dier, Regullion; Ndombele, Hojberj, Alli; Lo Celso, Son, Kane.
Sessegnon, Bergwijn, Moura