In a dominant defensive performance by Tottenham Hotspur, the north London club dispatched their local rivals Arsenal by the final score of 2-0.
Spurs received a boost for this match as Hugo Lloris was fit enough to start the match after doubts were raised on Friday. Unfortunately, Tanguy Ndombele missed the squad due to an undisclosed illness. Toby Alderweireld returned to the lineup as well after a thigh injury kept him out of action for two weeks.
After ten minutes of hard fouls, a couple of free kicks and wild slicing shots into the stands by Arsenal, Spurs struck first. Harry Kane gathered the ball at midfield and sprung Heung-Min Son on the left flank. A couple of touches was all the Korean International needed as he blasted a 25-yard curler inside the far post past a diving Bernd Leno. 1-0 good guys as the 2,000 fans in the south stand exploded in joy.
Twenty minutes of play after the goal saw a tale as old as time: Martin Atkinson letting everything go and refusing to use his cards. Granit Xhaka accumulated a few hard fouls and clearly should have been booked, but as of the 35th minute, no bookings had been given out. Spurs controlled the pace for the most part, allowing Arsenal possession until the final third and collapsing down to try and spring the counter-attack.
Spurs’ back line remained solid, sending crosses and passes out of harm’s way as the match rolled toward halftime. Serge dispossessed Saka and fed the ball to Giovani Lo Celso. With acres of space to run and leading a four on two break, he fed Sonny and allowed Kane to overlap to the left side. Kane took a pass and blasted the ball into the top of the net just before halftime.
Arsenal were forced to pull Thomas Partey for Dani Ceballos due to injury while making tactical changes to press Spurs. The Gunners opened up the second half much stronger, getting a couple of good chances that Spurs managed to deal with, including a good save from Hugo just three minutes in.
Spurs settled down and got back into their game, albeit giving up a couple of fouls that Arsenal did nothing with. Pierre Emile-Hjobjerg and Moussa Sissoko kept traffic in the middle of the pitch clogged up, forcing Arsenal to the flanks a lot for crosses and passes that were wayward as Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon kept their flanks on lockdown for the most part. Arsenal did get a big chance in the 68th minute as Alexander Lacazette got a headed effort on target that forced Lloris to make a diving stop, sending the ball just wide of the post.
Mourinho freshened up the squad and made a tactical change in the 72nd minute, bringing on Ben Davies for Giovani Lo Celso. The adjustment put Spurs in a back three and pushed Aurier and Reguilon up slightly as wingbacks in anticipation of Arsenal moving to two strikers, which they did a few minutes after by bringing on Nketiah for Bellerin. It proved to be useless as Spurs defense constricted the life out of their rivals with each passing minute. Spurs were perfectly content to stay back, snuff out an attack, and force Arsenal to reset. Time ran out after one final listless attack from the Gunners, sending the south stand into celebration.
Thoughts on the Match
- You couldn’t have picked a better match to bring fans back into the stadium. Spurs put on a defensive masterclass. Arsenal had a couple of chances, but you could tell they had no idea how to break Spurs down.
- Take a damn bow, Sonny. Just a wonderful goal. Harry can join him for that top shelf blast to kill off the first half.
- Man of the match for me is Hojbjerg. The man was actually yelling at himself in the 91st minute for missing a tackle after the performance he had. He’s a future captain of the club, without a doubt.
- Once again, the back line was wonderful. Reguilon, Dier, Alderweireld, Aurier were phenomenal.
- Kane is going to break the assist record before the season’s half over at this rate.
- For those of you keeping track, that’s seven points out of nine from Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
- Spurs are back at the top of the table on 24 points. Arsenal, meanwhile, find themselves in 15th, just six points clear of the drop.
- Spurs look to win their group in Europa League on Thursday against Antwerp, followed by a visit to south London to take on Crystal Palace.