Arsenal’s fragility could see Tottenham go for the jugular


ose Mourinho‘s approach to the biggest games is well-established over the course of his career.

Mourinho, whose Tottenham side make the short trip to rivals Arsenal on Sunday, has typically aimed to avoid defeat at the homes of his rivals, adopting a cautious, risk-averse approach. The 58-year-old always wants his side to win, of course, but not before he knows they are not going to lose.

The best recent example is Spurs’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea in November, when the visitors spent the entire second half protecting their goal and waiting for a mistake from Frank Lampard’s side which never came.

There is also cunning to this approach — and allowing the opposition to have the ball, particularly with this Spurs attack, both reduces the chance of making a costly error and creates the conditions for the exhilarating counters which Mourinho favours.

All in all, the set-up is well-suited to facing Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, a side with an unfortunate talent for shooting themselves in both feet.

Only last weekend, Arsenal gifted Burnley an equaliser, and ultimately a point, through Granit Xhaka’s bizarre mistake, while last night a similar mix-up between Bernd Leno and Dani Ceballos gifted Olympiacos a goal, although the Gunners ran out 3-1 winners.

In July, their 2-1 defeat at Spurs came following a defensive debacle between Sead Kolasinac and David Luiz. Spurs also beat Arteta’s side in December, enjoying just 30 per cent of possession in a 2-0 win, with both goals coming courtesy of quick counters.

In short, ceding possession and lying in wait for Arsenal would seem like a sensible, tried and tested approach on Sunday. Yet, if there was ever a time for a Mourinho side to mercilessly attack a rival, surely it is now.

Arsenal’s confidence is fragile, despite last night’s win in Athens, and there is trepidation about the prospect of Spurs completing a first north London double since the 1992/93 season.


Since the turn of the year, Luiz has been Arsenal’s standout defender and, for all his experience and qualities, the Brazilian is an unreliable cornerstone for any defence.

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