Result: Sp*rs 0-2 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 15 January 2023
Venue: White Hart Lane
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, Nketiah
Subs: Turner, Holding, Tierney, Tomiyasu, Lokonga, Smith, Vieira, Marquinhos, Smith Rowe
An own goal by Hugo Lloris and a fine strike by Martin Odegaard saw Arsenal beat Sp*rs 2-0 to record a first away win in the north London derby since 2014.
The victory was built on a supremely confident first half showing and a mature defensive effort, aided by a spotless performance by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, after the break.
In addition to the derby bragging rights, the three points also extend our lead at the top of the Premier League table to eight points ahead of a showdown with in-form Manchester United next Sunday.
There were no surprises when the starting lineups were announced with Mikel Arteta turning to the same XI that started against Newcastle and Brighton. The only notable absentee from the squad was Mohamed Elneny whose place on the bench was taken by Matt Smith. Emile Smith Rowe was also a welcome presence among the substitutes.
Spurs may have been slow starters this season but they were always going to come roaring out of the traps in a north London derby. Early on they pressed high challenging Arsenal to be brave on the ball. We were unfazed and did well working the ball out from deep areas to progress up the pitch.
We too pressed high and when Lloris and Doherty got in a muddle under pressure from Martinelli and Odegaard, the ball fell to Nketiah who forced a save. The striker will feel he should have done better despite his effort being on target. On the plus side, he looked sharp in his movement and hold-up play and when he was taken out by Romero, Odegaard curled in a free-kick that Partey headed over.
The Ghanaian was involved again on 14 minutes springing Saka down the right wing with a nicely weighted lofted pass. It was a decisive moment. The England international, racing into space, dribbled into the box forcing marker Sessegnon backwards before crossing with his right foot. The ball took a slight deflection that wrongfooted Lloris and the keeper fumbled the ball into the net unchallenged. It was a mess of a goal for the home side. Arsenal celebrated with a big group huddle that doubled up as a team talk. (GOAL 1-0)
Sp*rs looked to hit back straight away and Ramsdale had to make a smart save down low to deny Son as he latched onto a through ball. After that, it was all Arsenal.
Saka and Nketiah again caused havoc down the right with their pressing and the latter delivered a cutback that the home side cleared in a panic. More patient play and great movement worked space for Odegaard who stung Lloris’ palms with a drive from 20 yards.
Martinelli was the next to try his luck, improvising a volley before the ball dropped perfectly to Partey who hammered a long-range volley with perfect technique that rattled Lloris’ post. It was an incredible effort.
Sp*rs looked nervous and really struggled to get out of their half. Whether they tried short passes or long balls, we swept up the danger, reset and worked the ball upfield. We just needed to make our possession count, we needed to be decisive.
On 35 minutes, we were exactly that. We worked the ball to Saka, he tucked a pass inside to Odegaard and the Norwegian had the space to pick a spot before ramming home a low drive from outside the box. It was pure class. (GOAL 2-0)
“You’ll always be sh*t,” taunted the travelling Gooners who were in raptures at the other end. They went through the full repertoire while Arteta’s men kept the home side at arm’s length for 10 minutes.
There was a scare in stoppage time when Zinchenko got sloppy and Kane forced Ramsdale into a save at his near post and a moment of confusion when Hojbjerg went down in the box after shooting wide from the resulting corner. It looked for a moment like referee Craig Pawson was pointing to the spot but it was in fact a goal kick. Phew.
In need of a goal, Sp*rs came out on the front foot. Kulusevski curled over in a warning from the Swede and Ramsdale parried a rising Kane drive. The England international then made a terrific block with his left foot to deflect a Sessegnon effort for a corner. It was backs to the walls for the Gunners. Kulusevski tried another curler. Again it went wide.
Arsenal still looked dangerous on the break and Nketiah came close to getting on the scoresheet with a cute turn and side foot effort. It was too close to Lloris who claimed cleanly. In the build-up, Romero, who was already on a yellow card, went through Xhaka and really should have been sent off. Craig Pawson bottled the decision.
Kulusevski continued to be a threat down the right against Zinchenko but the defence, particularly Saliba and Gabriel, looked solid. As Sp*rs committed more men forward, spaces opened for us to use the pace of Martinelli and Nketiah to stretch the game. The latter really should have killed the game off but couldn’t beat Lloris after being played through on goal by Xhaka. His first touch was a little heavy and the Frenchman was quick off his line.
Xhaka fired over a free-kick before Arteta switched things up, removing the booked Martinelli and sending on Tierney to add further steel to our left flank. As the game ticked into the final 10 minutes, Sp*rs mounted another wave of pressure that required real focus. Substitute Richarlison fired straight at Ramsdale and Son had an effort deflected over the bar.
Arsenal looked tired in the closing stages – hardly surprising given the effort put in – and the composure that had been a hallmark of the first half dissipated. Some tactical time-wasting and further substitutions helped break up the tempo of the game. As the clock continued to tick down, the travelling support grew louder and louder. The celebrations at the end were incredible.
We’ve waited a very long time for a win on Sp*rs’ territory. This one will live long in the memory.