Revived Sanchez thwarts dominant Spurs: 5 statistical observations from Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal

FFT's Chris Flanagan was in the press box at White Hart Lane to analyse the dramatic North London derby draw between Tottenham and Arsenal using Stats Zone - FREE on iOS and Android...

1. Sanchez's return to form could be crucial for Gunners

For 14 brief minutes at White Hart Lane, Tottenham looked set to go top of the Premier League thanks to Harry Kane's stunning strike. That they didn't was down to the revival of one of Arsenal's key men.
Alexis Sanchez had been suffering a surprising dip in form since his return from a hamstring injury in mid-January. Arsene Wenger had predicted that the Chilean would return from that two-month lay-off refreshed, that it was effectively a much-needed winter break for a player who didn't have much of a rest last summer as he helped his country to victory in the Copa America. But it hadn't proved to be the case.
Sanchez's only goal in the nine matches since his return had come in the FA Cup against Championship side Burnley, and his last Premier League goal was as far back as October, as he sometimes appeared to be lethargic and struggling for confidence. Arsenal cannot afford such a key player to be off form if they are to win the Premier League, so the livewire's return to form at White Hart Lane could yet be a significant moment in this title race.

Arsenal celebrate Alexis Sanchez's goal

Sanchez struggled early on, failing with three take-ons as the likes of Mousa Dembele closed him down quickly, but he grew in influence and confidence as the game went on. By the end of the match he had created two chances for others and had three shots himself, crucially making it 2-2 with a fine angled finish - thanks to a second assist of the game from Hector Bellerin. If Arsenal go on to mount a real challenge for the title, Sanchez's goal could prove to be one of the most decisive.

"He had a great attitude today and I hope that will give him the needed confidence and encouragement to continue," Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said afterwards. "The goal will give him a lift. Certainly we will see a different Alex now."


2. Dembele influential in Spurs domination

Arsene Wenger said he was happy with Arsenal's display at White Hart Lane, asserting that they 'always looked dangerous going forward'. But in truth they were outplayed for large spells of the game. Yes, Spurs only marginally edged the possession stats, with 52 per cent, but they did much more with the possession they had. In total they had 26 shots to Arsenal's 10.
It was a similar story to Spurs' display at the Emirates earlier in the season, when again they dominated and led through a Harry Kane strike, only for Arsenal to hit back for a draw.

Mousa Dembele's return from injury meant that Spurs were able to name exactly the same front six as they did at the Emirates, with Eric Dier alongside the Belgian in a holding role, while Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Erik Lamela played behind Kane.

Spurs' two performances against Arsenal in the Premier League this season have shown just how good and how balanced a combination that front six really is. Their North London rivals weren't able to match them or control the game on either occasion, despite being a side renowned for dominating possession.

Mousa Dembele was impressive in possession

Dier was the game's top passer with 42 completed passes, while Eriksen created five chances and completed 21 passes in the final third - eight more than anyone else on the field.

The return of Dembele and Alli to the line-up gave Spurs a greater presence than they had in their midweek loss at West Ham. Alli's energy allowed him to win the race with Per Mertesacker and set up the home side's second goal, while Dembele was successful with five of six attempted take-ons and gave the ball away in only once in 37 passes - a stunning completion rate.
Left back Danny Rose also got forward well and provided a constant outlet, even having three shots himself before being forced off with a minor calf injury.
"The way we played, I think we deserved more," Pochettino said. "It's a missed opportunity but Tottenham is the youngest squad in the Premier League so when you show more in all aspects and deserve to win the game, I think we need to be happy."

3. Kane is the man for the big occasion

There will be few better goals scored in the Premier League this season than Kane's brilliant curling finish from an angle, which put Spurs 2-1 up at White Hart Lane.  "It was a fantastic goal, amazing," was Pochettino's verdict.

The striker is still playing with a mask after breaking his nose recently and missing Tottenham's home game against Fiorentina, but he was impressive from the start against Arsenal. This was his fourth goal in three Premier League games against the Gunners, and his 14th goal in 18 London derby matches for Spurs in the league. Not a bad record at all.

Kane has proved his ability to deliver in the big games, something that could be useful for England at the European Championships in the summer. He led the line superbly in this game, constantly pulling Arsenal defenders out of position with clever runs into space, and in total he had an incredible eight shots - of which four hit the target. Five of those eight shots were as a result of his own individual play.

4. Elneny shows promise, partner Coqs up

Arsenal were leading 1-0 and actually having their best spell of the game - they had completed 40 passes to Spurs' 21 since half time - when Francis Coquelin made the rash decision to dive in on Harry Kane and earn his second yellow card. It was his third foul from five attempted tackles in the game, and it was a tackle that did not need to be made when he was already on a booking - perhaps showing the slight inexperience of a player who has still only made 44 league starts for the Gunners.
That was 43 more than his holding midfield partner Mohamed Elneny, who was starting a Premier League match for the first time after arriving from Basel in January. It was a risky selection from Arsene Wenger to throw an untested Egyptian into what was always likely to be a high intensity match.
Elneny and Coquelin certainly didn't dominate but the new boy did show enough encouraging signs to suggest that he can build on this appearance and potentially hold down a first-team spot.
Aaron Ramsey - who was switched to the right flank for this game but regularly came infield, most notably for his goal - led the ball recovery stats with 14. But Elneny was next in line with 10 and also completed three clearances.

5. Spurs tried to press home advantage

One of the biggest reasons why Tottenham did have the better of the match was the pressing game they put into action from the first whistle. A number of early tackles were met with roars of approval from the home fans and Spurs refused to allow Arsenal the time on the ball they wanted to settle into a rhythm and create chances.
Despite having slightly more possession, Spurs actually made 29 successful tackles compared to Arsenal's 25 and the StatsZone tackling map shows that more of their tackles took place near the halfway line or even in Arsenal's half, showing their determination to press high up the field throughout the match. In contrast, many of the Gunners' tackles were deep in their own half, as they preferred to sit deep and only challenge when Spurs got closer to the danger areas.
Tottenham's youthful energy gives them the ability to maintain that pressing game for much of the match, and it could yet play a key part in the outcome of the title race.

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