The Tottenham defense will be under pressure with and without the ball on Saturday, hence our first two keys to victory. If Spurs can effectively withstand the early Arsenal onslaught and stick with their runners, they can hold the Gunners to one or fewer goals, giving us an excellent chance to take at least a point. However, if Tottenham wants all three points, they must be as effective in attack.
Key 3: Spurs need to get behind the Arsenal defense
We all know Mikel Arteta wants Arsenal to be more like Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City, and part of that is playing with the football and a very high defensive line. As a result of this approach, as City and Guardiola are well aware, is the possibility to counterattack the Gunners quickly.
If we need evidence of this approach and are looking for a blue-print to beat Arsenal, Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Old Trafford is a good place to start. In that game, the key to United’s success was their ability quickly counter and get behind Arsenal’s high line.
United quickly moved the ball on all three goals to take advantage of an out-of-position defense.
If the Gunners are allowed to get into their defensive positions, they are a difficult team to break down, much like Spurs; however, their approach leaves them susceptible to an attacking approach Tottenham knows well. Spurs must take advantage of the counterattack on Saturday to win.
Key 4: Tottenham must make and take some chances
Although the counterattack will pop up several times in the game, like Arsenal, Spurs are adept at pressuring the defense and creating an opportune turnover; Tottenham must take advantage of these opportunities.
The facts are Arsenal is in the first place, and Arsenal is the home team who should win, so the pressure is on the Gunners to perform. Their defenders are players who will make errors under the right circumstances.
Whether it is Ben White, William Saliba, or Aaron Ramsdale, there are mistakes in the Arsenal defenders, and Spurs need to make them happen. The occasional long shot or odd cross into dangerous areas can be all it takes on a pressure-filled Saturday to create the crucial mistake to put Harry Kane in on goal.
The rebounds, the second chances, and the second balls that all come from taking chances are the kind of opportunities that win big games. The north London derby – and this one in particular – is a big game. Sometimes you have to make your luck, and Tottenham needs to do that by going for it.
Key 5: Spurs need to play their game and keep their composure
Although the pressure to win will be on Arsenal, the pressure from the opponents and most of the 60,000 fans will be mainly on Tottenham.
We know the Emirates is a challenging environment, and Tottenham has not had much recent success. However, this Spurs team is different and is built to win matches like this. If the Lilywhites have the special kind of season we all hope they will, they will withstand the pressure and come through with the rare away north London win.
Tottenham needs to be prepared to ride out the hard fouls without complaining or retaliating because that is what the Gunner wants. Likewise, Spurs must avoid politicking the referee and stay focused on the game.
Winning big games comes as much with mental fortitude and success as physical success. The Gunners thrive on being bullies and getting in their opponent’s heads. Tottenham needs to ignore the noise and play their game, and they can outscore Arsenal and win a classic.
We can all expect a close, hard-fought game; however, if Tottenham is to win, Spurs need to play their game on both ends of the pitch.