Arsene Wenger may have expected Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to replicate their Everton performance against Spurs, but he was asking for too much.
Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang had excellent games in the 5-1 win over Everton, but struggled against Tottenham.
Speaking before the game, Wenger saw no reason why his new signings couldn’t put on a repeat performance after the Everton game.
“Once the game has started, these guys have top-level experience,” Wenger said, as reported by the Daily Star.
“They know what’s important and that’s to focus on their performance.
“These guys are top quality players. Why should they not repeat the performance [vs. Everton].”
Despite the quality the two players have, they were always going to struggle against Tottenham.
The Everton game was perfect for them, as they allowed Arsenal to play and dominate the ball in their half.
That ensured that Mkhitaryan would get plenty of touches of the ball and could roam where he wanted without worrying too much about what was happening behind him.
Aubameyang, meanwhile, could focus on his off the ball movement and sniffing out goalscoring chances.
On top of that, Arsenal tend to be more relaxed at home. The whole team seems to improve in front of the home supporters.
The game was a comfortable one for them.
By contrast, Tottenham didn’t allow Arsenal to play. They pressed when Arsenal tried to play-out, and played most of the game in Arsenal’s half.
For Mkhitaryan, this meant less time on the ball whenever he received it.
It also meant he didn’t have the passing options he had against Everton as his teammates struggled to get up the pitch.
His play became rushed, and that resulted in a number of loose touches and over-hit passes.
As for Aubameyang, he might have been more involved had Arsenal used the ball better during counter-attacks.
His movement and pace in behind were a threat, but his teammates couldn’t provide for him.
Without service, he’ll have little impact on games.
The team was also inflicted by the away-day anxiety that has become a real issue this season.
Arsenal were under considerable pressure and rarely able to catch their breath during the game. Combined with the need to the win, we saw the worst of the players.
We expect a lot from our new signings. We want them to lift the team’s performance.
Unfortunately, Arsenal weren’t prepared for a game of such intensity, and Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang were caught in the middle of that.