Friday 20 September 2019

Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino in focus

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino looked unimpressed with his side's showing
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino looked unimpressed with his side's showing

Arsenal turned on the style to beat Tottenham 2-0 in the north London derby at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Here, Press Association Sport assesses how Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino approached the game.


Wenger chose to start with summer signing Alexandre Lacazette, having left the £50million forward on the bench for the trip to Manchester City before the international break. It was a signal of attacking intent and it also allowed Arsenal to press from the top of the pitch. Shkodran Mustafi was also recalled and his inclusion appeared a masterstroke when he gave the Gunners the lead. Pochettino shuffled his pack, making five changes from the narrow win over Crystal Palace last time out, but it did little to rouse a response. Harry Kane and Dele Alli were included, despite missing England's recent friendlies against Germany and Brazil with knocks, and they seemed slightly off the pace.

Touchline demeanour

Pochettino, wearing a scarf as he paced up and down his technical area with his arms crossed, seemed unhappy in the opening stages as Arsenal asserted their dominance. His mood soured further when the hosts broke the deadlock from a controversial free-kick, awarded when Davinson Sanchez was adjudged to have fouled Alexis Sanchez. The Argentinian's rarely seen steely gaze made an appearance after the second goal just before the break and he was later seen remonstrating with fourth official Kevin Friend at the start of the second half. Wenger, by contrast, cut a more relaxed figure and he even allowed himself a wry smile and a brief fist clench when Alexis Sanchez made it 2-0.

Game management

Tottenham were unusually lethargic and Pochettino seemed short of ideas as to how to stop Arsenal's persistent press. The tempo increased after the break, with the manager even playing ball boy to keep Spurs on the front foot. However, a sign of how desperate things were for the visitors came with 15 minutes left when Pochettino took off the ineffective duo of Kane and Alli - to the delight of the home crowd. Wenger clearly had a game plan and there was little need to change it having seen his side dominate for large parts. Lacazette was sensibly withdrawn and replaced by holding midfielder Francis Coquelin on 72 minutes to help shore up the Gunners midfield and secure the win.


Wenger got a result just when he needed it most but a lot of credit has to go to the Frenchman. Having matched his side up against Tottenham's highly-effective wing-back system he needed his big players to deliver - and they did. His decision to start Lacazette gave the home fans hope from the off and it provided a positive atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium which contributed to the performance and final result. This was a rare off day for Spurs, and Pochettino, who will no doubt be wondering why his players failed to turn up for one of their biggest games of the season.

PA Media

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