Tottenham Hotspur (1) 2 Arsenal (1) 1
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 0BX
Sunday, 12th July 2020. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(3-4-2-1) Emiliano Martínez; Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney; Nicolas Pépé, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Matt Macey, Bukayo Saka.
Scorers: Alexandre Lacazette (16 mins)
Yellow Cards: Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pépé, Bukayo Saka
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 63%
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions
How fitting that the very last London derby of the season for us just happens to be our “friends” down the other end of the Seven Sisters Road. As we have seen so many times before with derbies of this stature, the form guide does tend to be ignored, as anything can happen on the day (and frequently does). Having said that, our current run of results are certainly better than today’s opponents, so let’s see if we can continue our excellent form with an important victory in London N17 this afternoon.
Setting the tone for the day, no doubt, within seconds of the start, Emiliano Martínez made a fabulous save from a snap shot by Lucas Moura which certainly warmed everyone up rather nicely for the challenge ahead. We started the match rather slowly, playing a close passing game and finding a way through the home side’s defence via exciting runs by Kieran Tierney on the left, where there appeared to be a distinct weakness. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scuffed a shot just outside the six yard box (which was a certain goal) on the twelfth minute, and three minutes later, Alexandre Lacazette picked the ball up from just outside the area, and blasted it into the net past an outstretched Hugo Lloris to give us the lead. Two minutes later, an appalling mistake by Sead Kolašinac led to the equalising goal from Son Heung-Min that not only left David Luiz exposed, but Emiliano Martínez scrambling to get into position to try and prevent the goal, but to no avail. We started to lose concentration, and Spurs very nearly scored on a couple of occasions before the drinks break, and again just after as well, with only the frame of the goal and a critical touch from Emiliano Martínez keeping Ben Davies’s shot out of our net. Nicolas Pépé was unlucky not to score with a long-range shot just after the half-hour mark, and with a large percentage of the match now being conducted in our half, we desperately needed to break out to try to grab a goal. Ben Davies brought down Nicolas Pépé just outside the penalty area and with the subsequent free-kick, the shot from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went narrowly close of the mark. The remaining minutes of the half were mainly a midfield contest between the two clubs, and it was a welcome relief to everyone when referee Michael Oliver blew his whistle to signal the end of the first half.
Within minutes of the restart, Shkodran Mustafi made an excellent tackle to block Lucas Moura’s shot on our goal and the resulting corner was easily cleared by Emiliano Martínez. Again, as in the first half, we patiently passed and moved our way through the Spurs’ midfield to apply pressure on their goal which resulted in some superb goalscoring chances which sadly came to nothing. After a superb series of moves, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang unluckily hit the Tottenham upright, and sadly Nicolas Pépé found himself with a yellow card for his troubles after a clumsy challenge on Ben Davies shortly afterwards. And still we came forward, with Kieran Tierney making some fabulous runs down the left side (as he did in the first half), and after the subsequent drinks break, we substituted Nicolas Pépé for young Bukayo Saka to give us some fresh legs up front for the remaining twenty minutes. Emiliano Martínez literally kept us in the game with a magnificent save after a mistake by Shkodran Mustafi and after a short period of action by the home side, we carried on where we left off, with a controlling, disciplined passing game. With ten minutes left of the match, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a fantastic shot on the half volley which was tipped by the post by Hugo Lloris, and just afterwards, much against the run of play, Toby Alderweireld scored the second goal for the home side with a header from a corner. With six minutes left Mikel Arteta made a triple substitution with Sead Kolašinac, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin being replaced for Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Cédric Soares, but with the home side in the asendancy, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for us now. Unfortunately, our chances were very few in injury time, and so it came to pass that we were unable to rescue anything from this match.
An extremely disappointing afternoon overall, especially when you realise that we had sixty-three percent possession, and only four shots on target out of thirteen taken throughout the match. Even more disappointing when it became obvious that we lost the game because of our defensive frailties, something that has dogged us all year, and a point that should not have escaped the attention of Mikel Arteta when he comes to restrengthening the squad in the summer. Today’s result means, that ultimately, barring some kind of Biblical miracle, we will not be playing European football next year, which for a club like Arsenal, is not only marked with despondency, but an outright disgrace, really. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Liverpool at Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU on Wednesday, 15th July at 8.15pm (Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.