ARSENAL VS TOTTENHAM
The first north London derby of the season lived up to the expectations of the fans.
With Arsenal having a disappointing start to their campaign and Tottenham coming into the game in fine form, it would have been remissive to think that anything but a Tottenham win would have been the outcome for this game.
However, Arsenal were the only side that showed up to the game, no doubt fuelled by recent talk that the tide in North London had shifted.
From the very first whistle Arsenal were snapping at Tottenham’s heels. They were chasing after every loose ball and winning the 50/50 challenges. Despite their early dominance in the game, their final ball was lacking.
The front 3 of Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, starting together for only the third time, were causing the Spurs defence all sorts of problems but couldn’t produce the final ball to create a clear goal scoring opportunity.
The Gunners finally got the breakthrough in the 36th minute in controversial circumstances. A long ball was played up to Alexis Sanchez and he got into a tangle with Davinson Sanchez which resulted in a free kick given by Mike Dean.
From the resulting free kick, Ozil curled in a lovely ball and the returning Shkodran Mustafi powered a beautiful header to the back post past the helpless Lloris and the Emirates erupted.
Buoyed by their earlier opener, the Gunners went on the hunt for the second and Spurs couldn’t help but crumble. Bellerin picked the ball up on the right and slipped a beautiful ball to Lacazette who in turn squared for Sanchez, his first touch was heavy but he managed to stick the ball on the back of the net past the reeling Lloris.
The Gunners went into the half with lead and not much changed in the second period. Tottenham couldn’t find any attacking rhythm as the hobbled Harry Kane and Dele Alli couldn’t muster anything substantial and were substituted late in the game.
In the second half, Arsenal showed resilience to keep Spurs out and keep a clean sheet. Many a time their character had been questioned in such situations and too many times they have folded and given up the lead, but not this time.
Laurent Koscielny and Mustafi marshalled the backline cleaning up anything that came towards them and put in a performance the Arsenal faithful have been looking forward to for a long time.
Pochettino can feel aggrieved that the decisions didn’t go his way but there is no doubt that Arsenal were the deserving winners of the game leaving Pochettino with only one win from his 17 away games against the top six.
Wenger who had been critical of referees in recent weeks thought they had a good game today and claimed the controversial fouls were correct calls. He said “Two weeks ago we conceded a goal that was not marginally offside, it was a yard offside, and nobody found a word to say.
Not to be lost in the refereeing controversy, he heaped praise on his team stating “We played with purpose, good concentration, the desire to be always efficient and with great solidarity from the first to the last minute.”