Tottenham Hotspur (2) 2 Arsenal (0) 0
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Road, Tottenham, London N17 0BX
Sunday, 6th December 2020. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Willian Borges da Silva, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Dani Ceballos, Alex Rúnarsson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah.
Yellow Cards: Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 69%
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Adam Nunn, Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth Official: Andre Marriner
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Kevin Friend; AVAR Mark Scholes
Attendance: A maximum of 2,000 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions
Let’s make no bones about it, the facts are fairly stark. We have gone 566 minutes without scoring from open play in the Premier League, and have lost five of our past eight league games, as many as in our first twenty-two top-flight fixtures under Mikel Arteta. On top of that, Arsenal’s tally of thirteen points is our lowest after ten matches since the 1981-82 season. And we are currently fifteenth in the Premier League. On the positive side, Thomas Partey is back in action today, and Shkodran Mustafi is on the substitutes’ bench as well. Quite naturally, it goes without saying of course, that today’s match against our North London rivals is one that we just have to emerge victorious, no other result will do. Let’s go!
The scene was set quite early on when firm tackles and fouls set the pattern for this electric match between the North London giants, with both teams squandering clear-cut chances to score. We started very much in the ascendancy, with constant pressure on the Spurs goal. But we did not pay attention. As early as the thirteenth minute, Spurs caught us on a typical counter-attack movement; Son Heung-min collected a pass from Harry Kane, ran sixty yards and his unstoppable shot flew past Bernd Leno to give the home side the lead. We responded quickly with attacks on the Spurs’ goal, but we kept getting caught cold with quick counter-attacking play from the home side. The match had more or less became one of containment from our point of view, as we found it difficult to create chances for ourselves, but when we did, the chances came to nothing. However, just after the half hour mark, Bukayo Saka got away from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on the right-hand side, passed the ball quickly to Kieran Tierney before getting into the Spurs penalty area but his low cross was neutralised, sadly. A free-kick saw a great chance for us to score, go to waste, despite some sterling work by Kieran Tierney cutting in to the Spurs’ penalty area from the left-hand side. Three minutes before the break, an Alexandre Lacazette free-kick from twenty yards out, bounced off the defensive wall and away for a corner, which again, led to a wasted effort. Then the unimaginable happened. Right on the stroke of half-time, Spurs counter-attacked again, and a simple pass from Son Heung-min to Harry Kane in our penalty area led to the home side scoring a second goal, courtesy of their captain, which Bernd Leno was unable to stop. Thomas Partey simply just walked off the pitch just before the goal, and was duly was substituted for Dani Ceballos due to injury, but the whistle went for the half-time break as this change happened, with Arsenal disappointingly two goals down.
Just after the restart, a Bukayo Saka free-kick from the right-hand side went through the Spurs defence and was unlucky not to score; a couple of minutes later, a Kieran Tierney cross found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose subsequent header went over the bar from eight yards. We certainly had the better run of play in the immediate period after the break, and we started to make a decent account of ourselves. Time and time again, we were knocking on the door of the Tottenham goal, but their organisational gameplan got the better of us, sadly. We were causing problems for them in their own half consistently, and we had our best chance of the game so far when Alexandre Lacazette met a cross from the right and flicked a magnificent header towards goal that Hugo Lloris did well to push to the other side of the post. Eddie Nketiah replaced Hector Bellerin after seventy-four minutes, and after the formation juggled around a bit to accomodate the substitution, we continued trying to find a way to prize open the Spurs defence. We dominated possession, and we attacked as a unit, and defended as one too. By rights, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have scored with six minutes remaining on the clock, but sadly Toby Alderweireld robbed him at the last minute. But still we kept coming forward, testing and probing the Spurs defence, with Alexandre Lacazette being desperately unfortunate not to score when his snap shot went just inches wide of the goal. Right up until the final whistle, we constistently and constantly tried to score a valuable goal, but it was not to be, sadly.
What is to be done? Our possession in both halves far outweighed the opposition’s, and the stats were mostly in our favour. And yet, after all that, we fired blanks yet again. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on the missing list for large parts of the match, and Willian looked off the pace and sluggish at times, but Dani Ceballos, Gabriel, Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney were superb tonight. We are light years away from challenging for the Premiership, and it is bcoming obvious to everyone that it is going to be a long, hard road back to a consistent, match-winning team. It’s going to be a tough season.
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: Dundalk at Oriel Park on Thursday, 10th December at 5.55pm (Europa 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.