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Arsenal 2 - 2 Tottenham: A tale of two halves as Tottenham give up a two-goal lead at the Emirates

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Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

There’s no such thing as an insignificant North London Derby, but today’s match between Spurs and Arsenal felt especially important. Spurs have been the better team over recent years, but arrived at the Emirates having disappointed in their first three Premier League matches, most spectacularly in a 1-0 loss to Newcastle last week. Arsenal, meanwhile, looked to continue a convincing start to the season and show that they are ready to contest the power balance in North London that has tended toward Spurs lately.

Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen both started for Spurs after being benched due to transfer interest and rumored personal issues, respectively, while Dele, returning from a hamstring injury, began the match on the bench. It was a show of faith in both players by Pochettino, and Eriksen probably earned it with his performance more than Vertonghen, who was quiet for most of the match and relied on his counterparts Sanchez and Alderweireld to carry the bulk of the defensive load.

Arsenal started the match strong and looked more likely to score through the first ten minutes, but a great team counterattack in the tenth minute sent Spurs 1-0 up and changed the tide of the first half. Tottenham found good chances throughout the half, and a Harry Kane penalty earned a 2-0 lead. That’s when things began to unravel. Just before halftime, Lacazette gracefully danced through the Spurs defense and fired home from close range to make it 2-1. From that point on, Arsenal kept the pressure on, finally scoring a second in the 70th minute against an unaware defense. Guendouzi scored a third, but it was disallowed for offside. Overall, a disappointing performance from Tottenham that has not shaken the appearance that something is seriously wrong with the team’s chemistry.

First Half

3’ — Jan Vertonghen’s return to the Spurs back line appears to be having an immediate soothing effect on what has been a nervy defense over the last couple of weeks. Arsenal pressing hard and looking the more threatening over the early run of play

4’ — Sissoko in with a good tackle on Sead Kolasinac who had sped past him

5’ — Arsenal has had a few frightening chances already, most recently Maitland-Niles with a powerful shot driven low from outside the box

7’ — Spurs looking better now: both teams going at each other, but the Spurs attack is finding a way further up the field than in the first minutes. They will need to continue to do so, as Arsenal seem bent on scoring early.

8’ — Dele’s absence

9’ — Spurs’ defense still looking shaky, confused by some lane-switching by Arsenal’s attack

10’ — GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL Tottenham: A brilliant counter attack from Spurs’ attack: Kane wins a header in midfield to send Son into space, who plays Lamela through who gets an early shot off on the edge of the box, Leno parries it directly into the path of Christian Eriksen, who fires into an empty net

13’ — The goal has breathed new confidence into Spurs’ attack. Some brilliant link-up play in the final third comes to nothing, but there is a bite to Tottenham’s attack now

15’— Another attack for Spurs: the midfield is having an easy time finding space against the Arsenal defense, who are receiving little protection from the midfield ahead of them

17’ — Son with an incredible strike outside the box, denied by an incredible save from Leno. Spurs are having an easy time on the counterattack; Kane was in space on the right-hand side

20’ — Guendouzi has fought hardest for Arsenal so far today. Davinson Sanchez attempts to change that by hacking him down after losing out on a challenge.

22’ — Huge chance for Arsenal. Pepe gets a header at Spurs’ far post, Danny Rose does quite well to parry it out with his own head

24’ — Harry Winks has not seen much of the ball at all today, but seems to be playing his role by pressiing hard.

25’ — Aubameyang brought down by Alderweireld outside the box to give Arsenal a free kick. Pepe and David Luiz both eyeing it.

27’ — Danny Rose insists that he’s innocent, but what looked like a late tackle earns him a yellow card and Arsenal a free kick. Pepe curls it in but Kane rises above to play it out for a corner.

31’ — Lamela with some shithousing, earns a yellow for tripping an Arsenal player. Commentary from my Gooner friend watching: “I hate that guy. I hate him.”

35’ — Kane hits a hard, low shot at the bottom left corner of Arsenal’s net, Leno parries it to Son. Son returns the ball to Kane, who waits just a second too long and can’t get a second shot off under pressure.

37’ — Spurs free kick maybe five yards out from the box after Lacazette brings Lamela down. Lamela and Eriksen over the ball. It’s a great kick from Eriksen, which requires a perfect save

38’ — PENALTY! Son brought down by Granit Xhaka, who went studs-up and caught Son late after he had passed the ball away. Kane to take.

39’ — GOAL Tottenham. Kane powers the ball into the bottom left corner. 2-0.

40’ — Arsenal attacking the Spurs box, Tottenham will need to remain vigilant to defend this lead.

42’ — Pepe hard and low on target. Lloris with quick reactions to stop it.

45’ — Arsenal free kick just outside Spurs’ box, Hugo Lloris parries the strong kick but there are cries of hand ball from the Arsenal support

46’ — Goal Arsenal. Spurs defense in disarray and Lacazette dances through Vertonghen and Alderweireld to fire home from close range. 2-1.

Second Half

48’ — Arsenal began the second half on the front foot, almost capitalizing on an error by Toby Alderweireld, but Spurs show signs of life now as Kane sprints forward

51’ — Spurs with their first proper effort of the half, Son shoots from the outside of the box and it curls just wide

52’ — Great defensive work by Harry Winks and Danny Rose. Winks sprints back as the Tottenham defense are somewhat disordered and coolly passes back to Lloris, then Rose resists the pressure of Lacazette to force the ball out as Arsenal press forward again

55’ — Tottenham need to do better. Guendouzi gets free around the penalty box and fires at the post. Lloris does incredibly well to get down and knock the ball out.

57’ — Eriksen booked for poking the ball away as Arsenal try to take a free kick quickly in the middle of the pitch.

57’ — Dele is suiting up.

59’ — Dele comes on for Lamela after Kane lasers a curling shot off of the post.

60’ — Aubameyang goes down in the Spurs box, calling for a penalty

65’ — The game has slowed just a bit, with players walking for both teams and space becoming more available. Spurs may be able to capitalize.

70’ — Goal Arsenal. Spurs looked utterly complacent as Guendouzi had plenty of time to play a through ball to Aubameyang, whose run was not tracked at all by Jan Vertonghen.

73’ — Winks booked for bringing down Matteo Guendouzi, who has been Arsenal’s best player today.

74’ — Lloris parries a long shot by Xhaka out. Arsenal corner.

76’ — Tottenham look absolutely off balance. Pepe has a chance to fire on goal from range, and hits it wide. Since Arsenal’s second goal, Spurs appear to have completely lost the plot.

78’ — Lo Celso on for Son. He will have to step up massively for this substitution to make sense.

78’ — An Arsenal goal denied by Var. Kolasinac was just offside. The second half has undone all of the momentum that Spurs accumulated in the first, and this performance will not reassure anybody that the team’s midseason wobbles are beginning to dissipate.

85’ — Winksy has completely lost his head. The ball was out of bounds in the middle of the pitch, and he grabbed Sokratis around the neck and threw him around. He could be sent off for this. Somehow Winks escapes a second yellow, but he deserved it.

87’ — Spurs had a quick break and Son played Kane in well. Kane tried to cross to Dele, but it was knocked out for a corner.

90’ — Sissoko is in space on the left flank with Kane rushing in, manages to pass the ball directly to Bernd Leno.

93’ — Kane looks for a penalty after a shove in his back

Reactions:

  • Two or three times, Son dribbled well into the box and then held onto the ball until he was smothered. Not particularly useful, but he was still one of Spurs’ most threatening attacking players on the day.
  • Dele came on hoping to make an immediate impact. He put in a fine defensive shift, but failed to show any of the attacking brilliance that has characterized his recent NLD performances.
  • Harry Kane took some great shots, but was not a massive presence. The Arsenal defense did well to shut him down, and Spurs’ attack did not do well enough to find him.
  • Winks worked hard after being uninvolved in the opening of the match. He needs to work on the temper that caused him to try to wring Sokratis’ neck late in the game.
  • It may be time to leave Sissoko behind. He was on the ball for two of Spurs’ best late chances and effectively gave the ball up to Arsenal both times.
  • Poch may be scrutinized for his substitutions. Dele and Lo Celso did not add significant pace to the game at a time when that was exactly what Spurs needed.