Pochettino saved derby for Spurs with this tactical masterstroke – opinion

Tottenham Hotspur came back from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw with their bitter rivals Arsenal in the north London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon. A second half Harry Kane penalty cancelled out Aaron Ramsey’s early strike.

However, for a long time, it looked as though the goal that Spurs so desperately needed would never come.

On the chalkboard
For much of the match the Gunners were able to contain Mauricio Pochettino’s side with relative ease.

Spurs’ midfield pairing of Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama brought plenty of defensive diligence and physicality to the middle of the park, but they lacked forward drive, creativity and penetration in the final third.

The hosts struggled to carve out genuine goalscoring opportunities and looked devoid of ideas. The back three system was hampering them as it deprived them of an extra attacker.

However, in the 59th minute, with his side chasing the game, Pochettino made the chance that would turn the tide of the match by replacing Wanyama with attacker Erik Lamela.

Following this substitution, Lamela joined the front line and Spurs switched to a back four, with left wing-back Danny Rose taking up a central midfield berth and centre-back Jan Vertonghen filling in at left-back.

Changing the game
Rose is not known for his ability to thrive in the middle of the park. However, the 28-year-old brought the kind of pace, drive and dynamism that had previously been lacking for Spurs in this part of the pitch.

All of a sudden, Spurs were able to commit more numbers forward, whilst in the midfield they had a player in Rose willing to surge forward with pace and directness.

This transition into a more aggressive approach brought on the pressure that ultimately led to Kane’s penalty. It was all facilitated by Rose’s change in role though, which Pochettino deserves huge credit for instigating.