Even though Spurs suffered a shock defeat at the hand of Aston Villa last Sunday, they are still many people’s firm favourites to beat Arsenal this weekend. And yes, Arsenal also suffered a defeat and were beaten 3-1 away to Liverpool. However, Liverpool is a much stronger side than Aston Villa.
So, maybe the forecasters of doom for the Gunners when they play Tottenham in the forthcoming game at the Emirates could be overly pessimistic?
Arsenal’s performance at Anfield has come under heavy criticism. Ian Wright, for one, has said that he was mystified by the diamond formation that Unai Emery fielded. It allowed Liverpool far too much freedom in midfield.
The attempted stifling of the central midfield meant there was space on the flanks. The Reds took full advantage of that oversight. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson exploited the room that was left, and it led to all three Reds’ goals.
By the time that Emery reverted the formation with Alexander Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as his front three, the damage had already been done.
With the unsuccessful trialling of the diamond pattern, Emery will probably not use it again with the current squad. Certainly not against Spurs on Sunday. Their attacking full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker-Peters (if fit) would have a field day.
For all Tottenham’s claims to be the next best team to challenge Man City and Liverpool for the title this season, they are way off the pace. Uncertainty about Eriksen’s and Vertonghen’s future and Pochettino’s resultant reluctance to play them are only part of their problems.
As Paul Merson said in a recent interview, Mauricio Pochettino has been reported as saying that he has never seen such unrest at Tottenham. Even Pochettino himself is unhappy. His comments a few weeks ago about changing his job title because he has no authority on transfer matters says it all.
Tottenham Hotspur is a team in trouble. Furthermore, being five points behind the league leaders after only three matches surely rule them out of any title challenge.
It all means that Arsenal has a great chance this Sunday of putting Spurs back in their rightful place. Yes, they are a good team and have some excellent players. But are they better than Arsenal? Certainly not on both teams’ showings thus far.
As Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn said when interviewed earlier this month, this season is the time for Unai Emery to deliver. Last season he was given license to settle in. Now he has to prove himself. He has got off to a good start -third in the league table and just one point behind City and three behind current leaders, Liverpool.
It’s all to play for and what better time to prove it by getting one over on their North London rivals when they entertain them at the Emirates on Sunday.