Result: Arsenal 2 – 2 Sp*rs
Competition: Premier League
Date: 1 September 2019
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Subs: Martinez, Chambers, Willock, Ceballos, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Nelson
It was a frenetic game of football as Arsenal came back from 2 goals down to equalize against their North London rivals. Silly defensive mistakes gave Sp*rs the initiative in the first half through goals for Eriksen and a tackle on Son that resulted in a penalty.
Lacazette halved the deficit with a well taken goal towards the end of the first half while Arsenal dominated the second half to force a goal through Aubameyang.
Arsenal fans finally got their wishes to see Emery starting the deadly trident of Pepe, Aubameyang and Lacazette upfront – in the fiesty cauldron of the North London Derby no less.
Torreira returned to add some steel in the midfield alongside Guendouzi and Xhaka while Kolasinac replaces the outgoing Monreal on the left of a flat back four.
The game started at breakneck speed. Arsenal got in a couple of chances through Pepe and Maitland-Niles within the first few minutes. Despite a confident ten minutes, it was Sp*rs who scored first due to Arsenal’s poor defending. Both Sokratis and David Luiz got caught high up the pitch as Son put Lamela through on goal. The Argentine’s shot was pushed away into the feet of Eriksen who made no mistake to put his team forward. Arsenal 0 – 1 Sp*rs
It was Sp*rs again who looked dangerous as Arsenal were exposed on the counter. On the 17th minute, Son Heung-Min cut in from the left wing and curled the ball towards the far post but Leno was on hand to palm it away. The home team has been poor in their defensive organization in their anxious attempts to score an equalizer.
Arsenal started turning the screw on Sp*rs on 22 minutes when Rose had to make a last ditch header to block Pepe’s knockdown at the far post after good work from Aubameyang to cross from the left wing.
Under more pressure by the Gunners, Sp*rs were left to their usual cynical that saw Rose and Lamela receive yellow cards for foul play. But it was an inexcusable foul by Xhaka that set Arsenal further back on the 37th minute. The Swiss midfielder took out Son with an awful tackle in the penalty box. Kane’s clinical penalty made it 0-2 for Spurs.
Despite the deflating goals, the home team were not ending the half without a fight as they clawed back a goal in injury time. Calls for a penalty were waved off by the referee as Sp*rs were adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
The decision only seemed to infuriate the Gunners who hunted down the ball in packs. Pepe received the ball and passed it into the path of Lacazette who showed fantastic footwork to trap the ball and then lift it past a defender to lash it home with venom with his left foot. 1 – 2 Lacazette.
While Arsenal ended the half on a high, Unai Emery’s team talk would have included reminders to the team to cut out the schoolboy errors that have given Sp*rs the advantage.
Arsenal started the second half as quickly as they did in the first with Sp*rs taken by surprise by a Lacazette header from a looping cross on the right.
A trio of chances within the space of 2 minutes got the crowd going from the 55th minute. First, Torreira expertly cushioned a low cross into the path of Guendouzi who had his shot into the bottom corner palmed away by Lloris. Kolasinac then almost got a goal from the resulting corner but did not make a good enough contact to bend the ball into the net. Lacazette made it three with a nonchalant attempt from outside the box that caught Lloris offguard and flew just past the top corner.
There were still warning signs despite the Arsenal domination as Harry Kane’s powerful strike from the right side of the box hit the post and deflected away from goal to the relief of Gooners everywhere.
Unai Emery made his first change on 63 minutes with Torreira coming off for Ceballos – hoping for another midfield masterclass from the Madrid loanee. His impact was almost instant as he expertly caressed the ball past defenders and shot from long range to put Lloris under pressure.
It was not long after where Lacazette was taken off for Mkhitaryan due to a suspected injury. With Aubameyang now leading the line, it was only a matter of time that the Gabon forward steal the show with a goal. Guendouzi slalomed through a crowded midfield and chipped a pass into the box. Aubameyang who ghosted past his marker to tap in an equalizer. A finish of the highest order made to look simple by a striker at the peak of his powers. 2-2 Arsenal.
Sp*rs were rattled by this point which led to more cynical fouling, earning Sanchez a yellow card. Pochettino also tried to condense the midfield by removing Son for Lo Celso. That was the only way to clamp down an Arsenal midfield that was running the show – ably led by Guendouzi who was growing in stature.
The game was stretched at the end with both teams looking fatigued from a ferocious end-to end affair. Harry Kane’s embarassing dive to win a penalty was one of Sp*rs pitiful attempts to win the game – sandwiched by a litter of half chances by both teams.
The match ended in a draw with Arsenal the superior team in the second half. While there were positives in their application to force a comeback, the team must also take time to iron out the silly defensive mistakes that have resulted in dropped points.