Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger highlighted the importance of the upcoming North London Derby against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur (via Arsenal.com). The Gunners head into the game on the back of a 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich; and the manager believes that a strong performance against the Spurs will go a long way into erasing the memories of the loss in Germany.
The loss to Bayern was our second defeat in the past couple of weeks; we have also lost to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. With those defeats, it means that our chances of winning a cup tournament are negligible at present (excluding the FA Cup), and thus we need to focus on the only realistic source of silverware at the moment – the Premier League. Arsenal are currently second on the table, level on points with leaders Manchester City, and the upcoming game gives us the opportunity to pile the pressure on them heading into the international break.
The manager spoke about these very points at the press conference, admitting that the team would head into this game looking to continue the run of positive results in the Premier League. He said, “It was a disappointing result on Wednesday night but before that we did extremely well in the Premier League. We will try to continue from one competition from the other.
“I believe that in the Premier League we have a strong confidence and focus and that is what we want to reproduce on Sunday against Tottenham and, as always, it is a derby. It is always a game where the commitment and nervous force will be important.
“It is not easy [to recover] because it is always a big disappointment [to lose]. When you play against Bayern Munich, and in fact I have watched the game again, not a lot has changed since my analysis afterwards. I believe that we created a high number of chances for a game of that stature and offensively, I was quite impressed by the number of chances we created.”
Tottenham are not the easiest opponents to face, certainly, however we have already beaten them once this season at White Hart Lane. Repeating the performance at home should be very much possible, especially when we consider the form of players like Giroud and Ozil. The defence will however be an area of concern; both Bellerin and Koscielny are unlikely to feature on Sunday. This puts a dent in our otherwise dependable defensive lineup and will force us to rely on players who are lacking playing time.
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Speaking about the defence, the manager admitted that the team underperformed against Bayern, giving up a couple of easy goals. “We had not our usual defensive performance, especially for the first two goals, where we gave them the goals basically, that is when it is difficult because Bayern is maybe the best team at the moment in Europe. If we had our usual defensive performance, we could have repeated what we had done in the first game” he said.
Hopefully, Wenger and the rest of the coaching staff will be able to erase those flaws before we take to the field against the Spurs. After all, the last time out, it was a close game that required a brace from Mathieu Flamini to secure the victory. A more comfortable result in front of a capacity home crowd will certainly go a long way towards restoring the morale at the Emirates after what has been an otherwise successful month.