After the defeat to Liverpool, it was clear that the diamond formation is completely out of the question for Arsenal and Emery and the Spaniard will have a number of problems to solve. More of that later.
Come on, how else did you expect us to mark north London derby weekend? ?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 31, 2019
Spurs are the ‘nearly but not quite men’. It’s hard to really know what they are at present because they dazzle and disappoint in equal measure. Are they Mozart’s unfinished symphony, Rembrandts partially painted masterpiece or Lady GaGa’s coat made of bacon rashers – it’s hard to say which one is Spurs.
Some consider them to be the best team not to have won a trophy, while others just see a team that lets momentum slip away on the big stage, and to a degree that description is very apt.
Against Arsenal last season at the Emirates, Spurs had the advantage at half time leading 2-1 but managed to lose 4-2 in an epic contest full of incident, including a red card and a penalty.
Just more ammunition to throw at Pochettino’s men in a season that mysteriously unraveled week by week as the heat intensified. Arsenal suffered a similar outcome themselves but were never considered to be contenders, and that’s the difference.
At the time of writing this Monreal should be on his way, which will save the majority of Arsenal fans the effort of hiding their anxiety behind a clenched fist watching a defender scramble back as if tied to a train carriage.
Xhaka would probably be excluded for what was a timid, flappy, non committed display that wasn’t worthy of a regular Arsenal player, let alone an Arsenal captain. His time is surely at an end as Emery sieves through the remaining deadwood and no-hopers.
No room for Ozil either in Arsenal starting XI either. This is not a time to experiment or to see if the fragile German is mentally and physically up to the task. Last season Aaron Ramsey added bite but nothing similar will come from the boots of Ozil.
Aubameyang has nine goals in his last eight appearances in all competitions, and six goals in eight appearances vs Spurs. [Dortmund & Arsenal]
He's definitely scoring on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/nwfX2O0Pj9
— UberGunners (@UberGunners) August 30, 2019
Emery needs to keep Spurs’ foot off the accelerator and that would be easy just by including Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang up front. What’s the point of having that kind of fire power and not using it ?
Ceballos should be in the middle of Arsenal midfield and I’d play Torreira and Guendouzi due to lack of options. A flat back four would be my bet if Spurs turn up in the right frame of mind, looking to show their supposed ascendency over their North London rivals.
Yet Arsenal will fancy this one and a number of their homegrown and recently adopted overseas players will run on stumps to get a result, which in the context of the season will matter little but at present, will mean everything to both side.
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There will be a few key contests including Luiz vs Kane, with the Spurs man developing quite a resumé for diving or claiming fouls. If Luiz falls for the trap with the Spurs striker, Son or Alli, he may have another difficult afternoon but the Brazilian defender will be keen to make amends for his disastrous outing last week.
Lacazette, Pepe and Aubameyang will be the stuff of nightmares for Hugo Lloris, Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Sanchez and Rose. It could also be interesting to see if Ceballos can outsmart Sissoko, Dier, Winks and Ndombele. If the Spaniard wanted a full blooded baptism in the Premier League, here it is and despite a fairly indifferent game against Liverpool, he could make a huge difference here.
Kolasinac will probably make an appearance from the start as Tierney continues his recovery and Arsenal would almost have appeared a goal to the good if both he and Bellerin were match fit.
Guendouzi or Willock would be my big gesture to partner Torriera because of the heart and work rate, something Xhaka is bereft of. I suspect the first 45 minutes will be a high tempo affair which could end 0-0 but if one chance is buried, then who knows what will follow. Former Arsenal man Paul Merson was predicting an Arsenal avalanche but I think that’s a little extravagant.
When it's Friday… and north London derby weekend is here! ?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 30, 2019
Arsenal are trying to settle with their new additions and promoted academy players but it’s an ideal stage to make a name for someone. One feels that Pepe is due a blockbusting moment – could this be it?
Leno, Maitland Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Torreira, Guendouzi/Willock, Pepe, Ceballos, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Arsenal win 3-2.