Result: Arsenal 2-1 Sp*rs
Competition: Premier League
Date: 14 March 2021
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Saka, Lacazette
Subs: Ryan, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Elneny, Ceballos, Willian, Pepe, Aubameyang
Alex Lacazette’s second half penalty sealed a vital North London derby win for Arsenal as Mikel Arteta’s side came from behind to win 2-1 at the Emirates.
The Gunners had fallen behind to Erik Lamela’s stylish strike but were rewarded for a dominant performance when Martin Odegaard equalised just before half time.
The home side’s job should have been made easier when Lamela was sent off 12 minutes after Lacazette’s spot-kick but Sp*rs twice came close to an equaliser with Kane having a goal ruled out for offside and hitting the post from a free-kick.
The win sees the Gunners close the gap on our neighbours to five points. Once again, north London is red.
24 hours before the game, the Arsenal medical team confirmed the entire squad had a clean bill of health. It was therefore very surprising to see our captain and top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench when the team was announced. It later transpired that the decision had been taken for disciplinary reasons. Alex Lacazette led the line in his absence. There were two other changes from the side that started against Olympiacos in midweek, Emile Smith Rowe came in for Willian and Cedric replaced Bellerin.
The Gunners looked sharp in the opening stages. We had most of the ball and worked the visitors across the pitch with our quick, precise passing. Mourinho’s men seemed happy to sit deep.
Arsenal’s preferred outlet was Tierney who three times in the opening 10 minutes darted into promising positions on the left flank. A low drive from the Scot flashed across the Spurs box but nobody was there to pounce.
We started to crank up the pressure, adding attempts at goal to our possession. Xhaka flashed over on 15 minutes and a minute later Smith Rowe rattled the crossbar with a cracking effort from 25-yards.
The first time the visitors pushed forward, Son went chasing after a long ball and pulled up holding his hamstring. He was immediately replaced by Erik Lamela.
We continued to dominate. Smith Rowe eased past Hojbjerg, cutback to Lacazette who opened his body and struck way wide. The Frenchman should have done better.
Bit by bit, Spurs edged back into the game and with their first effort on goal took the lead. Lamela, who’d spent most of his time kicking the ankles of Arsenal players, pulled off rabona effort that skidded through a crowded box past an unsighted Leno. (0-1)
Back came the Gunners. Lacazette left a cutback from Smith Rowe and as the ball rolled to the edge of the area, Cedric lashed at goal. Lloris just stood there watching as the full-back’s shot smashed off his left post. Unbelievable.
We kept plugging away and a minute before the break, we finally got the goal we deserved. Yet another really good attack down the left saw Tierney escape Doherty and this time his cross was met by Odegaard whose first time left foot effort found the net thanks to a small deflection. A second goal in four days for the Norwegian who enjoyed a very eye-catching 45 minutes. (1-1)
Arteta introduced Nicolas Pepe for Saka at the break giving the Ivorian a chance to take on the booked Reguilon. We continued to play on the front foot and certainly looked the more likely to score. Partey fed Lacazette who spun his man and fired straight at the keeper. The Ghanaian then fired an effort of his own past Lloris’ post.
We kept plugging away and were eventually rewarded just past the hour mark. A brilliant pass by Pepe picked out Lacazette in the box and Sanchez cleared out the Frenchman even though he’d completely fluffed his attempt to fire at goal. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and VAR confirmed the decision. It was a hilarious slice of luck. Lacazette put the ball on the spot and found the net. (2-1)
Needing a goal, Spurs started to push forward. A dangerous cross by Kane, who’d been completely anonymous, nearly found substitute Alli. Lamela, who finally went in the book for a foul on Partey, did get his head on a Hojbjerg cross but Leno claimed.
The Argentine’s continuous attempts to injure our players finally cost him on 75 minutes. In possession of the ball, he opted to ward off Tierney with an arm in the Scot’s face and referee Oliver went straight to his pocket to produce a second yellow card. On the touchline, Mourinho was seething with his player’s stupidity. You love to see it.
In the lead and with a man advantage, it should have been a case of game management – just keep the ball and don’t do anything stupid. Easier said than done. Partey twice ceded possession and Xhaka then got himself booked. From the free-kick, Kane rose at the back post to head home. The flag went up immediately to rule it out. It was a warning.
Obviously worried by the way the game was opening up, Arteta sent on Mo Elneny for Lacazette. The change didn’t have the impact he wanted and he was less than impressed when Partey gave away a stupid free-kick just outside the box. Kane stepped up and hit a low shot that crashed off the post. The ball rebounded to Sanchez whose first-time effort was heading in before Gabriel made a desperate headed clearance. It was a real hearts in mouths moment.
Five minutes of stoppage time was not what we wanted to see. Again we gave away a stupid free-kick, this time Gabriel taking out Lucas Moura. Kane stood over the ball. He weighed up his options, went for power and the ball fizzed over Leno’s bar. And that was that.
After five games without a win against Sp*rs this was a sweet and thoroughly deserved victory. Well done, boys.