Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Arsenal come from behind to draw in North London derby

Arsenal's far from convincing start to the season continued at home yesterday as they had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Spurs. It was a hotly contested North London derby which both sides could've won had they taken their chances. It was perhaps the most equal derby between the two in recent times but Tottenham will no doubt be more happier with the point than Arsenal. With Chelsea next week, winning this weekend would've given us a real platform to go forward. Especially with a Champions League game in the week too. In terms of the line-up, Sanchez weirdly dropped to the bench whilst Wilshere came back in from Villa in place of Cazorla.
Oxlade-Chamberlain rescued Arsenal by scoring the vital equaliser
Not beating a rival always throws up a fair amount of frustration amongst a fan base which is why I'll try and keep my moanings to a minimum this week. Many things could be found wrong with the way in which we drew to Spurs on Saturday evening. Those who watched the game will know too well of what went wrong. First things first, it felt like a loss, which immediately brings us into a depressed mood, especially when we've failed to beat our rivals at home. Four draws in our previous five Premier League games have led to a few becoming quite worried.

The continued draws have been because of numerous reasons, and I'm not trying to berate Wenger here because we are actually still unbeaten in the League. However, in order for us to kick on and start winning more games you feel as though the tactics have to be changed. The way we set up against Villa with the 4-2-3-1 formation worked perfectly and as a result we came out of the game with our most convincing performance this season. Therefore it was a bit bizarre to then turn our attentions back to the dreaded 4-1-4-1 formation that has very rarely worked this season, as proved against Spurs yesterday.

It meant that Mesut Ozil, despite his outstanding display with Danny Welbeck last week, was shunted back out wide in order to accommodate Wilshere in the middle. Playing with the four across the middle as we have done so often this season means the edge of the area gets very crowded and we have little space to work our creativity. Compare that to the Villa game, where we had a lot more time and space on the ball as a result of playing 4-2-3-1. I see it as an incredibly weird manoeuvre tactically from Wenger.

It goes without saying though that we did create our fair share of chances against Spurs and that was a positive. Most of them were restricted to being from outside the box but we did test Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal more often that not it seemed. Ramsey's and Arteta's injuries were massive blows but it did allow Ozil to play more centrally in the second half and that enhanced our performance massively.

The way in which we conceded was very much a negative. Mertesacker played the ball into Flamini who was muscled off the ball by Eriksen and then Lamela played in Chadli who fired home. It was further evidence of our need for a defensive midfielder, something that should without a doubt have been addressed in the transfer market. Wenger has said something about Diaby been tried in that role and it would be a role I'd love to see the Frenchman adapt too. It's just about keeping him fit now but I'd definitely start him against Chelsea next weekend.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was been pretty isolated on the right hand side throughout the game despite linking up well with Chambers. However, it was the Ox who popped up with the vital equaliser with about fifteen minutes left to play. Welbeck made a hash of Cazorla's ball into the box which allowed Chamberlain to follow up and smash the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal since February.

From an Arsenal point of view, our better performers came in the shape of Ozil, Koscielny, Gibbs and Chambers. The defence looked fairly comfortable throughout the game and Kieran Gibbs put in a brilliant display defensively and also did well going forward. The same goes for Calum Chambers who has adapted to life at Arsenal fantastically. He was very assured and confident for his first North London derby and seems to thrive under pressure. Before Wilshere went off he also had a very good game and his drive forward was something we lacked when he was substituted. It was precautionary after he had gone down with an ankle injury in the first half.

From what I've just said then, it is clear that we drew based on our tactics. There were enough good individual performances from the players which was encouraging. Especially when you consider many of our players have gone missing in the bigger games in recent times.

We don't necessarily have a solid platform to build on as of yet which could be a problem against Chelsea. Galatasaray will be a challenge in itself and then we'll look to go the Bridge and avenge for the thrashing we received last season!

The team's line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta(28), Ramsey(44), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere(62), Ozil, Welbeck.
Subs: Ospina, Coquelin, Flamini(28), Rosicky, Cazorla(44), Sanchez(62), Podolski. 

Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose(83), Capoue, Mason, Lamela, Chadli(80), Eriksen(62), Adebayor.
Subs: Vorm, Fazio, Dier(83), Bentaleb(80), Lennon(62), Townsend, Soldado. 

My man of the match: Kieran Gibbs.

Referee: Michael Oliver.
Attendance: 59,900  

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