After a good spell of form from Tottenham Hotspur, they failed to deliver the attacking intent that had been instrumental in their impressive run – with Arsenal deservedly taking three points and pushing themselves closer to the Europa League places. Tottenham’s hopes of the top four, however, hang by a thread.
Arsenal Deservedly Take Points From Lacklustre Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal Quickest Out of The Blocks
Derby games seem all the more strange without fans and the first 20 minutes of this North London Derby felt flat at times. Arsenal started the brighter with Tottenham sitting strangely deep considering the attacking line up of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Lucas Moura and Gareth Bale.
Emile Smith-Rowe took advantage of Matt Doherty – who kept getting drawn to the ball and allowing his opponent to just glide past him unchallenged. It was Smith-Rowe who came closest to giving Arsenal the lead when he smacked a shot against the Tottenham bar with Hugo Lloris beaten.
Cedric Soares also hit the post for the Gunners after Son had to go off injured with what looked like a pulled hamstring and a glorious goal from Son’s replacement, Erik Lamela.
Rabona Magic From Erik Lamela Ruined by Petulance
For all Arsenal’s pressing and possession, they found themselves behind to an incredible piece of magic from Lamela.
Sergio Reguilon had pulled the ball across to Moura in the box, who passed to Lamela, but the ball was slightly behind the Argentinian. Lamela didn’t blink and hit a Rabona into the far corner beyond Bernd Leno. It was a sensational strike and a certain contender for the Goal of the Season prize.
Lamela then made his goal irrelevant when he received a second yellow card for a push on Kieran Tierney right in front of the officials – even Jose Mourinho looked resigned to the inevitable.
Matt Doherty Run Ragged
Smith-Rowe was always looking the likeliest threat for Arsenal. Doherty continued to let him run beyond his control with ease, but it was Kieran Tierney on that same side that got past Doherty even easier – Martin Odegaard got a touch of luck to equalise thanks to a deflection off Toby Alderweireld.
It was no more than Arsenal deserved. Doherty was an accomplished right wing-back at Wolverhampton Wanderers but at Spurs he is struggling to get any of the basics right.
Spurs Pay the Penalty
In recent matches, Davinson Sanchez had started to find some form but undid all of that good work with a senseless and calamitous foul on Alexandre Lacazette to give away a penalty. Lacazette had already fluffed his shot wide before Sanchez launched himself into the Arsenal striker who duly put Arsenal ahead.
Prior to the goal, Mourinho had inexplicably replaced Bale with Moussa Sissoko and the Welshman was not happy to be taken off. It was not his best afternoon in a Spurs shirt but to replace him with a defensive midfielder was a strange decision to fathom.
The sending off of Lamela did spring some life into Spurs and Kane headed home from a free kick but he was correctly called offside. It was the first time Kane had touched the ball in the Arsenal box such was Tottenham’s lack of attacking intent and intensity. He then hit the foot of the post with a free-kick before five minutes were added on.
Tottenham Once More Their Own Worst Enemy
Against Burnley, Crystal Palace and in Europe, Tottenham had shown that attacking is their best form of defence so it was surprising that they set up to let Arsenal have all of the ball and to just sit back. It has been these kind of performances that have cost Tottenham so many points this season.
Whether it is the players or the manager or combination of both can only be known by those people, but it was a poor performance from Tottenham and a game that could have seen them close the gap on the top four has seen them once more hit self destruct and make their job so much harder.