Unai Emery says he’s proud of Arsenal’s performance even though his side had to settle for a point at the end of a thrilling North London derby.
The Gunners started the afternoon slowly falling two goals behind when Christian Eriksen tapped into an empty net on 10 minutes and Harry Kane converted a penalty after Granit Xhaka senseleslly hacked down Son Heung-min. But they showed determination to deny Sp*rs a first Premier League win at the Emirates since 2010.
Alex Lacazette lashed home just before the break to reduce the deficit and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelled things up with 19 minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish. Both sides might have won it – Harry Kane hit the post and Sokratis had a goal ruled out for offside – before the points were shared.
In his post-game press conference, Emery said: “Obviously after [being 2-0 down] we can be very proud of our response and also the atmosphere we created, and how our supporters pushed us to get back in the game after we scored, to get the second goal and then to have chances to score a third goal. Above all, the result, we deserved more.
“Also, we controlled the second half better than the first half. Tactically, the first goal is one mistake because we played that action more with our hearts than our heads. We had two players trying to win the ball from Harry Kane and we needed to go with one, and the other with the cover.
In the second half we did that work perfectly but you concede one of these actions and they have very good players to score. The second goal is the same, one mistake. It’s frustration after the first goal. After the first 20, 25 minutes it was very good at the beginning. That second goal gave us difficult moments but the players worked very well to recover the result for us and our fans.
“We created a very good atmosphere. The game was amazing for the football but for us, it’s not enough. I am very proud of our work, our players and our supporters. We need to continue working to develop the balance defensively in that moment. Today we played going against them and finding our option in the attacking third to score and win the match.”
As is often the case with Arsenal, early individual errors made for an uphill struggle. In the build-up to Christian Eriksen’s opener, David Luiz committed himself to a challenge on Son that the Korean escaped with ease and Bernd Leno couldn’t push the ball out of danger leaving the Dane with the easiest of finishes. Later Granit Xhaka went to ground in the box, felling Son with a late challenge that was always going to result in a penalty. Kane tucked it away.
Explaining the lapses, Emery said: “We played a lot with our heart. In the first half, the first goal is conceded because we were working with two players on Harry Kane. He can flick it on. It’s the same with one player or two. We need to have the cover.
“The second half, we did that perfectly. In the first half, that action on the first goal meant we didn’t control our heart. We worked that action with our heart and they made us pay for that action to score.
“The second goal is maybe the frustration from the first goal. The penalty… We need to also be clever in our box. There are more positives than negatives in 90 minutes. I am going to be optimistic and also I am very proud of the work, of our players. We will take those mistakes and improve.”