There are few feelings in sports more fun than beating your rivals. Especially when your team is able to come from behind, to turn that feeling of elation into despair for the supporters of that other team.
I am an overseas fan in California. I don’t often have real life interactions with other fans but today my luck was fortunate. I was out running an errand after the match and I had to fuel up my car, while I was there a Sp*rs fan pulled up to the pump across from me. I noticed that he was wearing a garish day-glo blue shirt that I thought looked ugly, and then I noticed the chicken and I chuckled to myself.
As he got out I made eye contact with him, pointed to the crest of my shirt (of course I was wearing my colors) and then held up four fingers. He looked at me, nodded his head acknowledging me, then kind of looked down in shame and said that we better be ready for the rematch in a few weeks.
Winning feels good, beating that team feels great, I have really savored this feeling.
Arsenal 4-2 Sp*rs – By the graphs
xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG Map
Simulated Match Results from the shots each team created
Arsenal 4-2 Sp*rs – By the numbers
4 – Shots for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
2 – Shots on target for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
2 – Goals for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
2 – Key Passes for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
89.5% – Pass completion percentage
5 – Tackles of 5 attempted (led Arsenal)
3 – Blocked Passes
1 – Foul committed
This was the type of performance that you want from your record signing in a big game. Aubameyang set the tone early in this match, leading the very intense press that pushed Sp*rs back to start the match. He isn’t normally involved with play outside of the very end of plays but in this match the rest of his game really showed through. I was very impressed with his performance. In a game where Arsenal played well, he was the star of the match.
The back three neutralize Sp*rs
0.34 – The expected goals that Arsenal allowed (not counting the Penalty), that is the lowest non-penalty total Arsenal have allowed this season.
1.86 – The expected goals that Sp*rs averaged before facing the mighty defensive force that is Arsenal.
13 – The shots per game that Sp*rs averaged before running into the Greek God and his merry defenders. In this match they managed just 10 non-penalty shots.
8.8 – The number of open play shots that Sp*rs averaged before being run ragged by Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira. In this match they managed just 7.
25 – Total tackles that Arsenal had against Spurs
10 – Interceptions for Arsenal against Spurs
21 – Clearances for Arsenal against Spurs
15 – Blocked passes for Arsenal against Spurs
Arsenal’s defense played well in this match even with conceding two goals. Without the penalty in the xG, this was the lowest total xG Arsenal have given up in the League this season. This was also a great example of Arsenal racking up the counting stats on the defensive side of the ball, collecting tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocked passes.
Even better, this wasn’t against some bottom of the table club either. Arsenal did well to keep Sp*rs well off their typical season averages. Arsenal and Unai Emery are still getting used to each other but with a sample size of two games, this back three seems to be going some ways to solidifying the shaky defense.
Sead Kolasinac, a final third monster
4 – Passes completed into the box, 2nd on Arsenal
5 – Key Passes, led Arsenal all from open play.
2 – Through Balls both completed in the final third, tied for the lead on Arsenal (with Hector Bellerin)
6 – Touches in the box, led all players
Kolasinac is a player with a lot of flaws, he isn’t a great full back and can look exposed when asked to defend at times. But get him the ball in the final third and he is capable of magic. He has really good attacking instincts and his size and power make him a mismatch for wide players to deal with. He is also really good at picking out his crosses and that skill has dovetailed nicely with Emery’s focus on working the ball for cutbacks.
The switch to the three at the back and the ability to use him as a wing back has really allowed Kolasinac to show the skills that put him in the Bundesliga team of the season before he joined Arsenal.
Lucas Torreira enjoys his first Derby
1 – Goal
1 – Amazing celebration after said goal to seal a great comeback
3 – Shots total, including one earlier that was deflected just wide of the post
3 – Tackles
2 – Interceptions plus blocked passes
12 – Ball recoveries
It feels like this is said every week, but man is Torreira fun to watch play. He has excellent ability to read the game and that skill allows him to feel like his is everywhere on the pitch. This match showcased his attacking skills which was something that he had hinted at previously but were fully on display. A great performance added to a growing list.
1 – The number of “L’s” taken by Eric Dier
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, StatsZone and my own database.