Spurs’ derby debutants will be key
LONDON — Barcelona’s mini maestros are living proof that size is not everything, but Tottenham do hold an obvious physical advantage over neighbours Arsenal in tomorrow’s north London derby.
Line up their bulky midfield trio of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Moussa Dembele alongside the diminutive Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, and you will see what I mean. And this has to be a tactical consideration for Andre Villas-Boas ahead of kick-off.
Returning to the Emirates Stadium on the back of successive 2-5 spankings — and still seething from Arsenal’s late-season surge which enabled them to pip Spurs for the final Champions League spot — it is the ideal opportunity for the Tottenham coach to urge his men to get aggressive with their rivals right from the word go. He will not confess it publicly — and it goes against his nature — but the Portuguese coach may even instruct his players to ‘rough up’ the Gunners. It makes complete sense for them to try and disrupt Arsenal’s technique and trickery through brute force.
Tottenham have begun the season in quietly impressive fashion.
They’re still waiting for their first Premier League goal from open play, but in two 1-0 victories, they’ve looked organised, balanced and in serene control of their game; even if Crystal Palace and Swansea City did not provide the stiffest of tests. This match will challenge them in an entirely different way.
The pace and intensity will be ratcheted up four-fold, as will the noise from the stands. How derby debutants Capoue and Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado and youngster Andros Townsend will cope with the occasion is unknown.
The Gunners will view that lack of experience as an advantage.
Knowing high-octane attacking performances have helped his side average almost four goals a game against Spurs on their last five visits, Arsene Wenger will demand more of the same.
Could a repeat be too much for the visitors’ new faces to cope with? Perhaps so — that is how the Arsenal dressing room will see it anyway.
While Wenger has received widespread criticism for his stagnancy in the transfer market, his first XI remains incredibly strong.