Ramsey critical in how Arsenal must line up to beat Spurs
The main thing Arsenal must look to avoid in the north London derby is getting overrun in midfield.
One of the main problems the Gunners suffered in the 1-1 draw at the Emirates earlier in the season was central midfield pair Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla getting outnumbered in midfield.
Not only did the pair have their direct battle against Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli to contend with, but Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela also worsened the problem by sneaking infield from the flanks to provide additional numbers.
Since Cazorla has been out injured, Arsene Wenger has called on Aaron Ramsey to return to his preferred central midfield position, having started the campaign as more of a wide right forward.
What he did from this position was to do as Eriksen and Lamela did against Arsenal, helping control the midfield tussle and provide another option for the deeper central players to feed the ball forwards.
Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott don’t provide this narrowness when used down the right and are far more focused on attacking industry over defensive diligence and ball retention. If either are selected in this role against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, Arsenal risk being overrun again.
Therefore, this is how we propose Wenger lines his team up if they are to have a chance of winning the derby. Arsenal are 21/10 to pick up the three points and end a run of three straight defeats in all competitions.
Not only will this formation allow Ramsey to add an extra body to the central battle, it will also bring in the energetic legs of Egyptian January signing Mohamed Elneny to partner Coquelin in screening the Arsenal back four from the frequent fluid interchanging of the Spurs attacking unit.
Without Cazorla, the obvious thing Arsenal lack is a ball player from the deep positions, capable of feeding the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez efficiently and quickly.
Arsenal can build too slowly without the Spaniard and Ramsey’s strength is more making untracked attacking runs from deep positions, rather than attempting to be the supplier of the passes that he would be keen to fasten onto.
This isn’t truly Elneny’s best attribute either, but his athleticism makes him a better choice than Mathieu Flamini to partner Coquelin. Meanwhile, by pushing Ramsey wide, it lessens the possibility of Arsenal getting outnumbered in central positions.
Arsenal’s big away games this season have generally all seen goals. Leicester were beaten 5-2, the trip to Liverpool ended 3-3 and 4-0 and 3-2 defeats were suffered at Southampton and Manchester United respectively.
Keeping things much tighter makes sense against Tottenham and how Wenger attempts to address the central midfield issues of the reverse fixture with Spurs could have a major bearing on the final result.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.