Sticking Ramsey On Bale Will See Arsenal Come Away From White Hart Lane With All Three Points

The midfielder has performed admirably when shielding the back four and if Ramsey can prevent Bale from going for goal from range, Arsenal can inflict defeat on Spurs.
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The midfielder has performed admirably when shielding the back four and if Ramsey can prevent Bale from going for goal from range, Arsenal can inflict defeat on Spurs.

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Having just been named Premier League Player of the Month, even the most committed Arsenal fan would struggle to argue that Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale is the league's form player. Therefore it'd be wise for Arsenal to make alterations to their game in order to stop Bale - not according to Arsene Wenger though, who said in his pre-match press conference that Arsenal never make special changes to their game to account for opposition players.

While the manager does like his side to focus on their own game, his side aren't that naïve - they've made subtle changes to their game for certain matches, and this weekend's North London Derby should be no different. In the build-up to the game, the focus has been mostly on Bale, but also on how the midfield battle will be decisive.

In actual fact, it may well be a combination of the two - Bale will likely drift inside, and it could well be Aaron Ramsey tasked with stopping him. Indeed, it was Ramsey who was asked to mark Luka Modric when the sides last met at White Hart Lane, and it could be that he's put on Tottenham;s new key man on Sunday.

Given that Abou Diaby is only a 50:50 for the game, and in rather poor form anyway - he was quite dismal against Blackburn and Aston Villa - it looks likely that Ramsey and Mikel Arteta will start at the base of Arsenal's midfield. Given his experience and nous, one would think that Arteta would be the one keeping an eye on Bale as he drifts inside.

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However, Arteta struggles against pace, and that is certainly something that Bale has in abundance. The Spaniard would likely either foul him or lose him completely, which would lead to Bale having a free kick or shooting from distance - two things which he has excelled at of late. With a recently-wobbly Wojciech Szczesny between the sticks, that's not a very attractive proposition for Arsenal.

Instead, Ramsey could do a job on Bale - his defensive awareness improved during a spell deputising for Arteta as the defensive midfielder in Arsenal's system, and his stamina and engine mean that he's much more equipped to be chasing after players. Furthermore, Ramsey knows Bale;s game well, having played with him for Wales for a few years now.

Arsene Wenger will likely request that Ramsey and Arteta retain positional discipline in order to fend off counter attacks, leaving the trio of Cazorla, Wilshere and Walcott to support Olivier Giroud, assuming that's how they line up, which seems likely. This will be important in stopping Bale, as if the midfield pivot stays deep, they'll be closer to the defence, denying space for Bale in between the lines.

Key for Ramsey, if he is pitted against Bale, will be shepherding him onto his right foot. While the Welshman has struck on his right against Arsenal and Manchester United, he's certainly not as effective on it from distance, which is where the main threat will likely be from him. Given Szczesny's vulnerability from long shots, it's vital that Arsenal stop Bale from shifting onto his left foot and firing from around the 18 yard box.

Overall, Arsenal have more to worry about than just Gareth Bale - for example, Aaron Lennon on the right wing; Manchester United recently focused too much on Bale that Lennon found space - but stopping the in-form winger in his track will be a big factor if they're to win at White Hart Lane on Sunday.