After some time to reflect on the match yesterday (and a chance to rewatch as well) I have a few takeaways from our 0-2 defeat yesterday to our bitter north London rivals.
Beat us at our own game
From the start they pressed us and we looked like a team that couldn’t handle it. They pressed high up the pitch and left Lloris/Dier/Vertonghen needing to play quickly in tight spaces with Alexis and Lacazette hounding then. Our players can hold their own against other goalkeepers and defenders when it comes to on-the-ball skills but that’s a tall ask of anyone. We seemed to be lacking the ability to get the ball through to the next level and make them pay for pressing so high. The defense to a high press is to burn them the other way, and we didn’t seem to be able to do that.
Injuries and team selection
The next point has to do with team selection, and part of it comes down to who was healthy and available. Don’t overlook Alderweireld being out and Dier dropping into a CB role – on top of missing your best defender another thing we were missing was Dier sitting at the base of the midfield and moving the ball around while hounding any opposing threats. Yesterday we needed Dier sitting next to Dembele and I believe we would have controlled the game better. Dembele put in a fine shift but looked out of his depths at times trying to be the offensive spark and also the defensive anchor. Both the Dier shift and the missing Wanyama proved costly as Sissoko was exposed on the day for what he is; a big bruiser capable of stretching the defense down the channels at times but not technical in tight space and not a savvy enough defender to anchor the midfield. Arsenal seemed to pay special attention when he received the ball as even a little bit of pressure on him and he is likely to trip over his own feet. Several counter-attacks were killed off when Sissoko was in possession and couldn’t do anything with it. He also didn’t seem to be on the same page with Trippier down the right and that stalled several attacking possessions that ended with nothing.
Mediocre days for several
Davies, Alli, and Kane all had days to forget; against a lesser opponent maybe we squeak out a win but not against a top-6 club. Rose on his good days would have been a welcome addition to the match but again, hampered by injuries and getting up to fully fit. I thought Poch got the substitutions right, albeit too late. The introduction of Winks was pleasant to watch him dictate the match for the last half hour but would have preferred it to be for Sissoko and would have liked to see Son come on sooner and given a chance to play with Kane before removing him. In a 0-2 game you might as well replace a defender like Dier with Llorente in that situation and let Kane and Llorente chase a late goal (or two).
a few bright notes
Davinson Sanchez continues to shine and looked incredible on the day, keeping pace with Alexis and Lacazette and overpowering them at times when needed. The penalty given for the challenge in the first half was incredibly soft, I dont fault him for that challenge. Trippier also had a good day and put several good runs in and could have supplied an assist or two had the ball bounced differently. Winks as solid, per usual, and did exactly what was asked of him.
Not the result we wanted but still a long ways to go this season. Unfortunately it’s looking more and more like 5 teams playing for spots 2-4, and there’s a lot of matches left to be played.
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