Let’s deal with the elephant in the room before I go into the North London Derby, the Lacazette incident in the Arsenal v Spurs game wasn’t a penalty (64) but who cares. For me, Lacazette took a shot in the box, more of an impetuous swing. He failed to connect and with the ball heading out and no longer a threat to the Spurs’ goal, he was clattered hard by Sanchez.
If it was awarded for anything, it would be for the reckless aggression, but Arsenal rarely get the right side of any official decision especially VAR, so it has to be savoured. Before Spurs fans get on their high horses, they should have been down to nine players with Harry Kane joining Lamela in the showers for his unnecessary and barbaric barge on Gabriel in the closing stages of the Arsenal v Spurs game. Perhaps, as England captain, he gets special dispensation.
Lamela deserved to be dispatched for upending Partey and then bashing Tierney in the face with a sweeping arm and although Jermaine Jenus bleated on about the merits of the first cards, the second would have been enough to gain a straight red but let’s not get bogged down in the incidentals here.
Arsenal were being billed by the BBC as second best, finishing fourth behind their rivals for the previous four seasons before the game, such was the supposed swing in superiority and the obvious bias. They had a frontline that was supposed to be one of the most fearsome in the division, but Spurs arrived at the Emirates looking flat and forlorn. They were either under par or had been instructed by their Portuguese master to be mind-numbingly defensive and to rely on counter-attacks because it worked last time out.
? Arsenal extend their unbeaten home PL run v Tottenham to 10 games
? The Gunners have won 6 of the last 21 PL North London derbies when conceding the 1st goal
? Jose Mourinho is beaten for only the 2nd time in 19 PL games v Arsenal pic.twitter.com/062wHMzrF0
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 14, 2021
This time though, Arteta had their number and apart from ten minutes in the first half and ten minutes in the second half, the Spurs weren’t even in this game. Arsenal could have and should have put daylight between themselves and their opponents with a clutch of goals in a bright and glittering performance.
At the head of it was Tierney and Smith Rowe who ripped the Spurs left flank to shreds with clever exchanges and interplay. Smith Rowe nearly got himself a sensational goal when he picked the ball up 25 yards out and hit a thunderous shot that rattled the Spurs bar. Elsewhere, Partey and Xhaka were establishing a nice pairing that had either covering as the other pushed up, but it’s clear Partey is more of a threat in that respect.
Odegaard showed some delightful touches and is beginning to look as if he could adapt to this league despite claims from Spain that this loan deal will not be extended. It was Odegaard who got the Gunners back on level terms (44), courtesy of a deflection, but it was a deserved reply to Lamela’s audacious Rabona effort that kept low with a wicked curve to get past Leno (33).
Highlights #NLD : ARSENAL 2-1 Tottenham
North London is ?@Arsenal ??? ????????? ?
— AIS Bandung (@AIS_BDG) March 15, 2021
It was a fine goal but Jamie Redknapp’s claim that it is one of the best Premier League goals ever is a slight exaggeration from a former Spurs man looking for pulses where there were few or none to be found. Redknapp also said that Aubameyang was past his best but later changed his mind, that’s Redknapp for you, mouth first, brain later.
The Gunners captain wasn’t to feature in the Arsenal v Spurs game, he could be seen parked in the stands for a breach of matchday protocol (lateness) and he looked glum, to say the least as he watched Arsenal squeeze their opponents dry in a fabulous first half.
The first goal was against the run of play but was the type that normally put Arsenal to the sword, yet the Gunners just continued their assault. Bale and Kane hardly looked good enough to threaten a Sunday league side and Son, unfortunately, departed early due to hamstring issues, only to be replaced by the overzealous Lamela.
The penalty aside, the visitors deserved nothing from the Arsenal v Spurs game because they only played competitively for around twenty minutes, but not in the same half. They looked like they couldn’t be bothered and it was a performance that tarnished the proud history of previous encounters.
Yes, Spurs had a few chances late on with Kane delivering a cross that Alli should have buried, a disallowed Kane goal, and a free-kick that clattered the post and a Gabriel clearance but the game is over 90 minutes and it would have been a travesty had Arsenal drawn with their lethargic and dull rivals.
Mourinho’s words about not looking down at Arsenal referring to Arsenal’s league position served its purpose as a motivational tool for Arteta. The gap between the pair is closing, let’s hope the Spurs boss isn’t averse to looking up because he could find himself doing that if Arsenal put a run together and Spurs do their usual splutter.