Tottenham v Arsenal: How Arteta can unlock Conte’s dogged defence and where playmaker Kane can win it for Spurs

ARSENAL make the short trip to Tottenham on Thursday night for what is basically a Champions League playoff between the traditional rivals.

Both sides are capable of winning – but both sides are equally capable of delivering a shocker of a performance when the pressure is on.

What can we expect? Tottenham to be tight at the back and rapid on the break – but will Arsenal give them the opportunity to do so given that it is Spurs who need the win?

Last weekend we saw Antonio Conte’s Spurs side frustrate a previously dominant Liverpool side and hold them to a 1-1 draw.

While the match was relatively unremarkable the comments made afterwards by the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp were not.

Klopp was critical of the Spurs game plan and in particular the fact that they were willing to allow Liverpool to have the majority of possession as the North London side looked to sit deep and then attack Liverpool on the counter.

Read more football stories

Arsenal and Tottenham combined XI as rivals battle for Prem fourth spot

Gunners aim to secure Champions League football with vital win over Spurs

Naughty Tottenham, not just opening up and letting Liverpool get in behind.

Given that Spurs were able to hold Liverpool to a draw, however, there has to be some justification of the style of play that we saw from Conte’s side.

The former Serie A coach has shown himself once again to be a tactically intelligent and versatile coach.

The question now though is whether we will see the same approach or even something similar in the upcoming North London derby.

Most read in Football


Ajax legend Henk Groot dies aged 84 as club pay tribute


Liverpool & City may be forced into incredible title play-off – here's how


Atletico ace Suarez ‘wants shock Barca move and would slash pay to complete return’


Man Utd 'want Wan-Bissaka replacement but PSG join hunt for Leipzig's Mukiele'

Against Liverpool we saw Spurs defend in an extremely compact defensive shape. There was little or no effective space between the spurs defensive line and midfield and this made it hard for Liverpool to play into the final third

As Tottenham have to win and they are at home, you’d expect to see them be a little more proactive, wouldn’t you?

Will this make Conte and his coaching staff be more forward-thinking going into this game?

The truth is that there is danger in that as Arsenal have developed into one of the most interesting and effective attacking sides in the Premier League.

If Spurs sit off then Arsenal are more patient than Liverpool – but if they are more attacking then Arsenal also have the ability to attack quickly on the counter.

We think that Spurs will initially look to defend in a more compact shape – although they are likely to try to get on the ball more than they did against Liverpool – and turn it into a second-half smash and grab led by Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son with Dejan Kulusevski being the getaway driver.

Harry Kane & Son Heung-Min to combine for 5 or more shots on target – 7/1 CLAIM HERE


How will Spurs defend?

Well, in the first instance we already know that Spurs will look to play with a back three in this match although when they are defending the wing-backs are quick to drop back in and form a back five on the defensive line. 

With the back three system, we still tend to see Spurs avoid man-marking the opposition attacker.

Instead, the three central defenders will defend zonally and pass players on while maintaining their own position.

This, when combined with the wing-backs dropping back and the two midfielders sitting in front of the defence, makes it exceptionally difficult to break Spurs down when they are organised.

Arsenal have impressed recently with their flexibility in terms of the way that they attack and they will use movement from the midfield, and especially Martin Odegaard, to try to break through the Spurs defensive system.

This is why it is going to be important for Spurs to sit in a compact shape and not be attracted out towards the ball when Arsenal are in possession.

Harry Kane and Eddie Nketiah both to score 8/1 – CLAIM HERE


The January signing by Spurs of the Uruguayan international midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has been key in strengthening the middle of the pitch for Spurs.

While he is capable of passing and progressing the ball effectively he is also an extremely smart footballer who combines well with Hojbjerg in the centre of the midfield to stop the opposition from being able to comfortably play through the centre and into the feet of the defenders.

They block passing lanes extremely well and will make life difficult for the Arsenal midfield in this match.

Can Arsenal break Spurs down?

At the start of this season if we were asked whether Arsenal had the players or the system to break down teams who sat back and invited them to attack then the answer would have been a resounding no.

At that point under their coach Mikel Arteta, there is no doubt that Arsenal were more effective on the counter-attack and they were often accused of overplaying when they were trying to play out from the back.

Now, Arsenal are versatile in their approach and the patterns that they use when they are building the attack.

This is especially true when they have the Japanese international Takehiro Tomiyasu in their team. Tomiyasu plays at right-back but he is tactically intelligent.

He will hold deeper positions to give the central defenders options as they build out.

On the opposite side, the left back for Arsenal will typically go forward aggressively.

This different shape on either side of the pitch is difficult for teams who are extremely organised defensively to defend against as defenders will be pulled into areas that they are not supposed to be in.

When they are building out against a more structured defensive unit we can expect to see Arsenal use forward runs in possession to unbalance the opposition.

The likes of Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White are especially good when carrying the ball forward.

Watch out for the movement ahead of the ball of ex-Real Madrid player Martin Odegaard as the Norwegian international will read the positioning of the Spurs defensive players and find spaces around them in which he can receive the ball.

Spurs will look to attack on the counter

Given that Arsenal will look to push players forward in order to attack and break down Spurs defensive shape in this game they will be vulnerable to the counterattack.

Spurs are extremely dangerous when countering because of the skill sets of their three forward players.

Kulusevski, Son and Kane are all dangerous forward players in their own right but when they play together they go to another level.

One of the most important things for Spurs in this match will be finding Kane in space from where he can turn and affect the game.

Although he is a central striker his ability to drop deep to receive and his passing ability creates a huge amount of threat for his team.

Kane has become a dangerous playmaker and his willingness to drop deep allows the two central midfielders for Spurs to defend deep and not push forward and out of shape too early.

As he receives the ball in the midfield we tend to see the other attacking players from Spurs look to run immediately behind the defensive line as they know that the England skipper has the passing ability to find them.

The pace and movement of the South Korean striker Son will be particularly important in this match.

Expect to see him looking to come inside and play off the shoulder of the right-sided central defender for Arsenal consistently. 

How will it play out?

As much as the man on the street would say Tottenham need to go for this game, you suspect Conte will approach it with a lot more caution.

If they go too gung-ho from the start, Arsenal have the ability to take advantage of the spaces and pick them off. 

Read More on The Sun

How to stop your paddling pool filling with bugs, and killing the grass

I work two jobs but can’t afford to eat – I’ve lost half a stone in six weeks

However, if Arsenal also approach the game with plenty of caution given that they’ll take a point from this all day long then we could see a frustrating stalemate that the Gunners will treat as a win.

Something has to give but we believe nothing will – we can see this finishing a draw and it being as they were at kick-off, with Arsenal one step closer to achieving Champions League qualification.

For more tactical analysis, scouting and stunning data visuals head over to Total Football Analysis – check out their monthly digital magazine which features 22 top articles in the May edition.

*New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy's Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply. 18+


Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply.

Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare –
  • Gamble Aware –

For help with a gambling problem, call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or go to to be excluded from all UK-regulated gambling websites.

*18+. Play Safe. New customers using EPS40 or EPA50. Applies to bets placed from 17:00 on 5 May 2022 until 19:45 on 12 May 2022. £1 must be staked at Spurs to win at 40/1 or Arsenal to win at 50/1. Returns paid as 4 x £10 or 5 x £10 in free bets (30 day expiry). Player & currency restrictions & terms apply.

    Source: Read Full Article