Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal: 5 Talking Points
North London Derby bragging rights went to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday as they beat Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley to move up to third in the Premier League table.
A Harry Kane goal (his 23rd in the league this season) proved to be the difference on an afternoon where Spurs could have easily won 4-0 or 5-0 had they been more clinical. The scoreline flatters Arsenal who were dire over the 90 minutes and the result sees them drift further away from the chasing pack.
Here are the major talking points from the game.
#1 Arsenal's narrow midfield was counter-productive
With Aaron Ramsey sidelined with a groin injury, Arsene Wenger was forced to make changes to the lineup and went with a midfield-heavy XI. The Gunners played with a back four but also a midfield five which consisted of Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Mesut Ozil.
However, it was more like a 4-3-2-1 formation instead of a 4-2-3-1 with Mkhitaryan occasionally going wide. Off the ball, it was a 4-5-1 to prevent Spurs from getting forward. It seemed like they were set up for a draw.
The problem with this formation for Arsenal was that it offered no width. Ozil drifted in and that pegged Hector Bellerin back, with the Spaniard rarely making forays forward.
Mkhitaryan had a poor game in this position. Although he did make a couple of crucial interceptions, he did not provide any impetus in attack and his final ball left a lot to be desired.