Ten-man Arsenal fought back to thwart Tottenham, but, until Francis Coquelin’s sending off, they looked equipped to register their second win at White Hart Lane this season. Though they will surely rue the lost points despite the adverse circumstances, there were many a positive that could be pivotal between now and the end of the season.
The Olivier Giroud replacement
Olivier Giroud’s biggest criticism continues to be his inability to take defenders on, but Danny Welbeck, who started ahead of him on Saturday afternoon, addressed the same issue as he seemingly enjoyed much ease dribbling down the channels. His penultimate pass for the Aaron Ramsey goal underlined what Arsenal have lately been missing up front – a composed centre-forward.
In addition, his readiness to play across the frontline helped Arsene Wenger tweak his tactics in accordance with the demands of the game. With Giroud struggling to discover his goal-scoring mojo, Welbeck gives hope.
No Cech? No problem.
More than Petr Cech’s four-week layoff, it was the prospect of watching David Ospina guard the Arsenal net that gave Arsenal faithful sleepless nights, thanks to his Olympiakos nightmares, but the Colombian custodian’s performance seduced the away end into chanting his name as loud as they used to when he displaced Wojciech Szczesny as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper last season.
Nine saves, including an incredible reflex save to deny Erik Lamela, meant he registered the most number of saves from an Arsenal goalkeeper since Lukasz Fabianski’s heroics in the 4-4 draw with Liverpool seven years ago.
Ospina proved that Arsenal can still launch an attack on the Premier League title without Cech, provided the back four are not caught sleeping repeatedly.
Tactically weak, really?
To counteract Tottenham’s imposing midfield trio of Moussa Dembele, Eric Dier and Dele Alli, Wenger named both Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny, moving Ramsey out wide. Elneny bossed the midfield, intercepting Tottenham’s buildup whilst Ramsey made amends for his horrible run as Arsenal’s central midfielder.
Against a side, whose success wholly relies on the system, Wenger produced a result though his personnel could have taken two more points home. Given the discipline and structure showcased by the new-looking Arsenal side, Wenger may deploy the same tactics in the forthcoming weeks.
However, with Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott waiting to be called upon, Wenger has one too many tactical options to choose from.
Rekindled passion and stupidity
Arsenal had clearly been lacking the spine and desire to make things work, but against the Lilywhites, they showed passion and a modicum of aggression – something that the Arsenal of the recent years were devoid of. Though it can be argued that the long-standing rivalry played its part, that was the perfect response to losing three consecutive games.
Gabriel Paulista’s heart and commitment stood out in particular, though Coquelin’s dented Arsenal’s chances of leapfrogging Tottenham in the Premier League table. However, their passion should transform into results, and ending their winless run of five games at KC Stadium in the midweek FA Cup game would be a major boost with the season entering the closing stages.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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