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Tottenham Women 1-0 Arsenal: Spurs earn historic first NLD win behind Martha Thomas goal


Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Barclays Women’s Super League - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur Women have faced Arsenal 15 times, if you include this match. They have never defeated their North London rivals... until today. Martha Thomas slotted home a fantastic quick-hit team goal in the 59th minute and defended heroically against a full-match onslaught from the visitors, hanging on for a historic 1-0 North London Derby win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium!

Arsenal dominated in almost every statistic, including outshooting Spurs 31 to 4, and the Gunners threw everything they possibly could against Spurs, including at one point a four striker lineup of Vivienne Miedema, Stina Blackstenius, Hayley Russo, and Stina Blackstenius. Tottenham’s defense didn’t let anything through.

Robert Vilahamn rolled the dice at halftime, bringing Jessica Naz on for starting striker Beth England. It proved to be an excellent decision — Naz’s speed and pace dragged defenders out of position, and she was indirectly involved in the buildup to Thomas’ winning goal. She also put in some good defensive tackles down the stretch.

A fantastic, historic win for Tottenham, made even better after Spurs lost a penalty shootout thriller to Arsenal just a few days ago in the Conti Cup. This is one to celebrate!

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Barclays Women´s Super League Photo by Alex Burstow/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Match Reactions

  • Look, let’s be fair — Spurs definitely football’d Arsenal today. Arsenal dominated almost all the statistics and were virtually camped out in Spurs’ half for the majority of the match. The only stat they didn’t win was keeper saves and the final score.
  • This was definitely a smash-and-grab victory (it still counts!) but Tottenham’s defense was outstanding. They mostly limited Arsenal to low-percentage challenges and Arsenal were wasteful with many of the chances they did have.
  • You can also say Spurs were pretty lucky. I can’t count the number of times they passed the ball straight to an Arsenal player when they did get the ball — I think part of it is Bob-Ball’s focus on verticality and taking chances to progress the ball quickly up the pitch, but that profligacy did lead to several big Arsenal chances that they thankfully didn’t convert.
  • Barbora Votikova, who made her WSL debut today after also playing in the Conti Cup, was immense today, making eight saves and keeping the clean sheet. She got a hand to Arsenal’s biggest chance which caromed off the post in the first half and stayed calm and composed throughout.
  • Spurs’ winner was just an exceptional whole-field attacking play that started with a simple Votikova outlet to Molly Bartrip and ended with Thomas’s winner. There was verticality, vision, and incisiveness in that play, something we’ve seen a lot more of in Bob-Ball than we ever did in past seasons.
  • Jessica Naz changed the game when she came on at halftime. Her speed and directness gave Arsenal something to think about besides keeping shape and passing out from the back. She successfully dragged a couple of defenders out of position in the buildup to Thomas’ goal which made space for Celin Bizet’s pass to Thomas.
  • Vilahamn has played Ashleigh Neville as a traditional fullback this season instead of the offensive utility player we saw last season, and she was fantastic today. She really committed to a solid defensive performance but was an outlet for ball progression as well. Exceptional match.
  • There were 11+ minutes of stoppage time thanks to a couple of player injuries and one apparent medical incident with a fan in the stands. This made for a horrifically tense end of the match as Arsenal piled on the pressure, but also one of the most cathartic releases at the final whistle I’ve experienced in a long, long time. I swear, I think I was more nervous in this match than I have been in the last several men’s NLDs.
  • Substitute Rosella Ayane had a golden opportunity to ice the game on a breakaway and attempted to walk it in instead of ripping it inside the box. Gaaah. Would’ve been a good goal.
  • It’s impossible to state how huge a result this is for Tottenham. Beating Arsenal was one of the things they needed to do to prove that they’re a team to be reckoned with and taken seriously in the top flight of English women’s football. I’ve yelled and screamed about the lack of support for Spurs Women by the parent club and I still think they could’ve (and can) do a lot more, but the development has been remarkable. Remember — eight years ago, this was a mostly amateur football club playing in the third division. Today they just knocked off one of the best clubs in the world.
  • Build the Big Marf statue (right next to Lamela’s).

Match Statistics (Tottenham - Arsenal)

  • Shots: 4 - 31
  • Shots on target: 3 - 8
  • Shots inside box: 2 - 22
  • Touches in opposition box: 7 - 43
  • Possession: 40% - 60%
  • Corners: 0 - 13
  • Saves: 8 - 1
  • Clearances: 28 - 5
  • Duels won: 69 - 61