Result: Sp*rs 2-1 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 12 July 2020
Venue: The Toilet Bowl
Starting lineup: Martinez, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Subs: Macey, Sokratis, Holding, Cedric, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Saka, Nelson
Toby Alderweireld’s late header capped a comeback win for Sp*rs as Arsenal endured a frustrating afternoon at White Hart Lane.
The Gunners played well in patches and took the lead through Alex Lacazette’s screamer on 16 minutes but the lead only last three minutes as Son capitalised on poor defending.
Either side might have won the game in a scrappy second half but after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had hit the bar and forced a great save from Hugo Lloris it was Alderweireld who found a decisive touch with nine minutes remaining.
The first men’s north London derby at our neighbour’s new home was a very watchable affair from the off. Given we’d had an extra 48 hours to prepare for the match, you might have expected us to make the faster start but it was Jose Mourinho’s men who looked sharper.
Twice in the opening 10 minutes, they capitalised on Arsenal sloppiness. Inside 30 seconds, Kane got the better of Luiz to feed Moura who stung Martinez’s palms.
A few minutes later, Pepe lost the ball in the centre of the park, then failed to slow Moura who clipped a teasing ball over Luiz for Kane in the box. The England international tried to lob Martinez but the keeper plucked the ball out of the sky.
After those early scares, we started to grow into the game. Ceballos and Xhaka pulled the strings in the middle as we looked to take advantage of the width and pace of Tierney and Bellerin. The Spaniard had one nice dart down the flank that ended with a cross that Aubameyang missed. As it reached the far post, Tierney swung a leg at but his effort flew wide.
Pressing high up the pitch is something we’ve been working on under Arteta and again it paid dividends. On 16 minutes Xhaka closed down Aurier on the edge of the Spurs box and when the ball fell to Lacazette he worked it onto his right foot and unleashed an unstoppable drive into the top corner. Even in slow-motion, you could see it speeding up before it rippled the net. It was, for want of a better word, a thunderbastard of a strike. (1-0)
That the lead lasted three minutes will have infuriated Arteta. Under no pressure at all, Kolasinac played a suicidal pass towards Luiz that seemed to wrong-foot the Brazilian as he back-peddled towards his own goal. Son stole in, took the ball wide of Martinez and dinked in. It was defending from Arsenal. The type of thing we have to stamp out if we’re to have any chance of evolving into a Champions League side. (1-1)
With the wind in their sails, the home side came again. Aurier’s cross nearly found Sissoko before Mustafi scrambled clear.
On a warm day, the pace dropped a little after the drinks break but both sides continued to trade punches. Martinez flicked a Davies effort onto the bar and Pepe, after taking the ball on the half-turn, curled just wide. The Ivorian was a bright spark and had another decent effort after tenacious work by Ceballos. Aubameyang also flashed a free-kick just wide.
Arsenal certainly looked the better side in possession in the opening 15 minutes of the second period. Our passing was crisp and quick and when we moved into the final third, we always looked threatening. Ceballos was impressive, wriggling out of tight spaces to keep things ticking over.
We might have been rewarded on 59 minutes when Lacazette fed Aubameyang who crashed against the bar from a tight angle.
Mustafi had earlier tried his luck with a looping overhead kick. A Pepe free-kick was also blocked by the wall. Having gone into the book and after making a second foul in quick succession, the Ivorian was taken off to be replaced by Saka.
Into the final 20 minutes and it was Martinez to the rescue. Kane, after getting the better of Mustafi, laid back to Son but our keeper got down quick to smother and spring a counter.
The two sides traded clear chances again. On 78 minutes an Aubameyang curler forced Lloris into a great save. Martinez then denied Kane after he escaped Mustafi again. The reprieve was temporary. From the resulting corner, Son’s ball was met by Alderweireld who found the top corner with his head. (1-2)
Kane should have killed things off as he again got the better of the German. Martinez got down low. Another decent stop.
In desperate search of an equaliser, Arteta made a triple substitution sending on Willock, Cedric and Nelson for Tierney, Kolasinac and Bellerin. It didn’t make any difference at all. Spurs sat deep, continued to counter and looked the more likely to grab another goal.
Losing points from a winning position. It’s been a common theme all season and it could well cost us European football. Sp*rs now leapfrog us in the table. We’re now down in ninth two points adrift of them with Liverpool our next opponents in the league. Just when we’d built up momentum, we’ve lost it and our challengers are not letting up.
What a deflating day.