It’s fair to say Tottenham fans won’t have been looking forward to their trip to Arsenal given their recent run of form.
On balance, they’ll be delighted to have escaped from the Emirates with a 1-1 draw, though both sides had chances to win it late on.
In recent weeks, Spurs have looked stagnant. Injuries to Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane have obviously had a massive impact, but they’ve also struggled with predictability.
Mauricio Pochettino’s task, in this game, was to put to bed any doubts surrounding whether he had the tactical nous to change things.
A run of six winless games – now seven – is his longest since he arrived in England. A more favourable record is that he’s the only Tottenham manager in Premier League history not to have lost to Arsene Wenger.
He may have borrowed the idea from Antonio Conte’s high-flying Chelsea, but changing to three at the back worked wonders. Arsenal clearly weren’t expecting it, plus it gave Danny Rose and Kyle Walker so much more freedom.
Walker looked unfit, but Rose definitely made the most of it. Other than his own goal, Kevin Wimmer looked reasonably comfortable, while Jan Vertonghen arguably put in a man-of-the-match performance.
This is something that clearly works for Spurs. When Alderweireld returns, he can slot in where Wimmer played, or Eric Dier can move up the pitch, though he’s probably best off where he is.
The Lilywhites didn’t quite play with Chelsea’s flourish of this season, but there’s still time for that to develop. The fact Theo Walcott admitted his side weren’t expecting Tottenham to change systems says it all about how Pochettino’s men need to be less obvious in their tactics.
They’ve escaped the derby, unbeaten record still intact, but they now face two other intense games in West Ham and Chelsea after the internationals. The latter could be very interesting indeed if Spurs stick with their new formation, and it may be the only way to beat Conte’s in-form Blues.