Premier League Tactical Preview: Dembele v Ramsey and other key battles

The North London derby should be a brilliant match.
The North London derby should be a brilliant match.
Join today View market

Alex Keble returns with his tactical analysis for the big Premier League games, including why Arsenal versus Tottenham should be a brilliant game...

"Chelsea’s back-to-back league defeats and the continued question mark over Antonio Conte’s future means the home side’s defence will probably be just as awkward and confused as it was in the 4-1 defeat to Watford. West Brom, then, could punish their sloppiness using the quick counter-attacks introduced by Alan Pardew - and by taking advantage of the subsequent set-pieces."

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

Dembele v Ramsey
Saturday, 12:30,
Live on BT Sport 1

This should be a frenetic end-to-end match defined by slack defending from Arsenal but a quick attack capable of exposing Spurs' increasingly nervy back line. Amid the chaos it is difficult to pick out an obvious key battle, although the direct head-to-head between Mousa Dembele and Aaron Ramsey should determine whether or not this match is chaotic or controlled.

Ramsey's hat-trick against Everton exemplified his brilliance from a more advanced midfield position; with two Arsenal players behind him (Arsene Wenger will most likely field a 4-3-3 this weekend) Ramsey can arrive late in the penalty area, getting on the end of cut backs from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Given Eric Dier's poor form of late, Dembele will need to work hard to track the Welshman. The Belgian has been superb in 2018, weaving away from the high press and speeding up the transitions for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

His jinking runs through that weak Arsenal midfield should open up space for Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli on the half turn, pinning the visitors back and limiting Ramsey's influence. If Dembele is at his best, Spurs will produce a calm performance, but if Ramsey comes out on top then it'll descend into madness.

Recommended Bet
Back over 3.5 goals at 5/4


Stoke City v Brighton

Bauer v Izquierdo & Grob
Saturday, 15:00

One of four relegation six-pointers this weekend, Brighton's trip to Stoke City is a chance for Chris Hughton's side to build on last weekend's victory and put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three. To do so will require another excellent performance from Pascal Grob and Jose Izquierdo, who combined excellently on the left in the 3-1 win against West Ham United.

Brighton attack down the left flank more frequently than any other Premier League club (42% of the time), which is only going to increase now that Izquierdo has become a first-team regular. The Colombian has bagged a goal and two assists in his last four league matches, but what is most impressive about this quick, direct winger is how often he makes runs for Grob; they passed the ball to each other 11 times against West Ham.

szwatfordzab169.jpg

Stoke's new right-back Moritz Bauer, signed from Rubin Kazan in January, has had a nice quiet start to life in the Premier League, but his ability to deal with the speed and aggression of English football will be well and truly tested here.

Recommended Bet
Back Brighton to win at 27/10


West Ham v Watford

Zabaleta v Richarlison & Deulofeu
Saturday, 15:00

Javier Gracia's Watford looked exactly like Marco Silva's team in the 4-1 win over Chelsea, utilising a narrow 3-4-2-1 formation that relied on high pressing, aggressively pursuing the second balls, and creating plenty of passing options in the central attacking third. This system should be effective against West Ham's injury-hit midfield.

David Moyes has been forced to field Pablo Zabaleta in the middle of the pitch for the last two Premier League matches, and unsurprisingly the veteran right-back hasn't been very good. Zabaleta didn't make a single tackle against Brighton last weekend, with Grob dominating in the number ten space.

szbrightonwestham169.jpg

Things will be even tougher on Saturday thanks to Watford's narrow formation. Richarlison and Gerard Deulofeu, playing as inside forwards just behind Troy Deeney, will swarm central attacking midfield, giving Zabaleta the run around. The visitors' aggressive tackling should be too much for a confidence-stricken side looking particularly vulnerable in the middle of the park.

Recommended Bet
Back Watford to win at 19/10


Chelsea v West Brom

Shaky Chelsea defence v Brunt set-pieces
Monday, 20:00,
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Chelsea's back-to-back league defeats and the continued question mark over Antonio Conte's future means the home side's defence will probably be just as awkward and confused as it was in the 4-1 defeat to Watford. West Brom, then, could punish their sloppiness using the quick counter-attacks introduced by Alan Pardew - and by taking advantage of the subsequent set-pieces.

Chris Brunt's dead-ball delivery set up two goals in the recent 3-2 win at Liverpool in the FA Cup, when West Brom shocked Jurgen Klopp's team by pressing aggressively to follow up their long punts into the Liverpool half. A similar tactic at Stamford Bridge could come good against the likes of David Luiz and Cesc Fabregas, likely to deputise for the suspended Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The traditional striker-partnership of Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez, who scored twice at Anfield, should cause problems against a back three that won't stop leaking goals. Chelsea remain clear favourites to end their mini-crisis on Monday, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see West Brom worry their opponents by scoring at least one goal.

Recommended Bet
Back both teams to score at 11/10

Tactical images are taken from the Stats Zone app.

Join today View market

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles