Opposition View: Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

We have our own reasons for not feeling entirely optimistic about tomorrow’s big game but it’s been a bit of a hot and cold start to the season over in N5 as well. I asked Kevin Whitcher, editor of Online Gooner a few questions to assess the mood in the opposition camp.

So, how has your season gone so far? 

Mixed. The results have been just about ok, but the performances have left a lot of questions, especially about the lack of variation in tactics, and the defensive vulnerability.

Has there been a change in mood/optimism since the cup win in May?

There was certainly a buzz during the summer, especially when four players were signed in July, including Alexis Sanchez. However, the displays so far this season have led to doubts Arsenal can push on as we had hoped.

Alexis Sanchez looks a decent player as does Chambers. Were you hoping for more new blood in the transfer window? The press keep banging on about a holding midfield player. Do you need one?

Undoubtedly. The central defence needs more protection than either Arteta or Flamini can provide. Someone with more physical presence is required.

And how about the Welbeck deal? A panic buy because of Giroud’s injury or a smart piece of business? 

Well, initially the former, but by coincidence, it should turn out to be the latter. The general view is that he will suit Arsenal’s style and score more than at United through being played regularly at centre forward.

Mesut Ozil is getting a fair amount of stick in the press, does that reflect the view from the stands?

Yes. There is a perception that he does very little sometimes, and when Arsenal do not have the ball, that is probably true. However, he does get involved when the team are in possession and is rarely wasteful. Because Arsenal do not always win, as a £42 million signing, he becomes an easy scapegoat if he has not provided an assist or a goal.

How are you feeling about Saturday’s game? There’s not much optimism in N17 after the performance against West Brom.

Arsenal tend to win at home v Spurs in recent years. I think, with the Villa away win and the playing of Ozil in his correct position, the team have hit their stride just in time for the derby.

Are there any particular weaknesses in the Arsenal side we should be looking to exploit? Mertesacker’s mobility? Chambers rawness? Arteta’s age?

If Spurs get the chance to run at the central defenders, they should take it. Mertesacker is slow and Koscielny often concedes free kicks. Arteta can’t cope with pace, so speed of movement is a weak area for the Gunners, as is defending at set pieces.

Any views on Spurs this season? Pochettino? The new ground shenanigans?

I rate Pochettino as a manager and am a bit mystified by the drop in form. Maybe he just needs a couple more games to get his ideas across properly. As for the new stadium, it gives me a little chuckle that we may be calling you Bucks arrivistes if you do spend a season at MK Dons, what with all the stick Arsenal get for the move from South London. However, Spurs do need a bigger stadium if they are going to compete. It’s a no brainer. Their only problem could be that the corporate market for boxes and premium seats might only stretch so far – The Emirates, the Olympic Stadium and Wembley all have excellent facilities for the business buck. Is there enough to go round?

And finally, you know the way these things work, a score prediction please.

I’ll say 2-1 to Arsenal on this one. Spurs will certainly score.

Cheers and many thanks for your time.

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