Jose Mourinho opens up on the switch to a 4-4-2 formation in win over Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Tottenham Hotspur switched to a 4-4-2 formation this evening against Arsenal in the North London Derby, eventually winning the game 2-1 to claim the bragging rights over their rivals.

Jose Mourinho had often opted for a 4-2-3-1 since arriving at Spurs in November 2019, but switched things up to partner Harry Kane and Heung-min Son up front against Arsenal.

Harry Winks and Giovani Lo Celso made up the central midfield pair, while both Moussa Sissoko and Lucas Moura worked as right and left midfielders respectively.

Lucas and Sissoko both enjoyed positive games on the flanks, offensively and defensively, while Son and Kane found far more opportunity to shoot this week.

Against relegation-threatened Bournemouth last time out, Spurs failed to register a single shot on goal over the 90 minutes.

On this occasion, Spurs managed nine shots on target, including the goals from Heung-min Son and Toby Alderweireld that proved pivotal in the victory.

After the final whistle, Jose Mourinho opened up on the change of formation (Football London): “Since Mikel changed and since they started playing with three plus the wing-backs, two midfield players plus the three attacking players who are all very good. I think they’re playing very well.

“I thought I needed to give the team a different shape and to control that we would be in a better position to try to win the game.

“They play with Bellerin and Tierney really wide and high, then they bring Aubameyang and Pepe or Saka to the inside. I wanted my back four to be focused on closing the central areas and jumping only to the wing-backs in special occasions. For that, I needed a sacrifice from Sissoko and Lucas.

“Even then we had two targets in attacking transitions and to go on to change the direction of the play. With Sonny close to Harry I felt that we could have both, one coming more for the ball and being more a target man and the other making the runs and attacking the space.

“So it was our strategy for the game but more important than that was the players. The mentality and the way they embraced the game and the rivalry with Arsenal.”

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