Tottenham Hotspur (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 2
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Road, London N17 0BX
Sunday, 15th January 2023. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard (c), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Matt Turner, Matt Smith.
Scorers: Lloris (14 mins, o.g.), Martin Ødegaard (36 mins)
Yellow Cards: Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 49%
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees: Marc Perry, Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Darren England
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Paul Tierney; AVAR Constantine Hatzidakis
This afternoon’s match is a huge test for us, as not only is it a North London derby (of course), but we have to win in order for us to maintain a healthy distance between ourselves and second placed Manchester City in the Premiership table. Mikel Arteta has chosen the same eleven that played out a frustrating 0-0 draw against Newcastle United at the Emirates last Tuesday evening, which also means, of course, that there is no place in the starting line-up for Emile Smith-Rowe who is on the substitute’s bench today.
We kicked off proceedings in the sixty-second North London derby (in the Premiership), and for the first few minutes, both teams showed intent and desire to win with strong tacking and good passing throughout. We won our first corner of the match after just seven minutes, and although Bukayo Saka fired over a great ball, the home side’s defenders cleared it easily. And then, the Spurs’ defenders made a complete mess of things at the back, and Gabriel Martinelli flicked the ball over a defender to Eddie Nketiah, who was unmarked about ten yards out, but he shot straight at goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. On the tenth minute, a Martin Ødegaard free-kick found the head of Gabriel, whose subsequent header flew over the bar. The Spurs’ players thought that Thomas Partey should be booked for hand ball after Granit Xhaka lost the ball, but the referee disagreed, thankfully. After fourteen minutes, we opened the scoring when Bukayo Saka ran onto a long ball down the right and cut inside Ryan Sessegnon and blasted in a shot from an impossible angle which went straight at Hugo Lloris, yet somehow he flapped and fiddled at it, and it went into the net! Four minutes later, Spurs’ first chance of the game came when Son Heung-min was picked out in space in the penalty area by Ryan Sessegnon but his low shot was comfortably saved by Aaron Ramsdale. On our next attack, Bukayo Saka found Eddie Nketiah in the Spurs’ penalty area, who hit a low ball across the area but it was cleared, and then Martin Ødegaard shot from just outside the penalty area in which a diving Hugo Lloris pushed wide. Then the ball landed to Thomas Partey from at least twenty yards and he hit a stunning volley which had Hugo Lloris beaten but hit the post and bounced out into play. Bukayo Saka beat his man again on the edge of the penalty area far too easily but his cross was cleared, and then Hugo Lloris caught a cross and then tried to send away Dejan Kulusevski with a long ball, but we gave him no options and he lost the ball cheaply. Gabriel Martinelli was fouled by Cristian Romero, who received the first booking of the day, and quite rightly so, it has to be said. Nine minutes before the break, we won the ball from a Hugo Lloris goal-kick and come forward in earnest. Bukayo Saka picked out captain Martin Ødegaard, who hit a beautiful shot from almost thirty yards, which zipped into the bottom corner of the net for our second goal of the match, for his eighth Premiership goal of this campaign. Shortly afterwards, a Martin Ødegaard free kick hit the Spurs defensive wall and spun off across the ground, and in injury time, Ryan Sessegnon received a booking for a poor tackle, and after a superb save by Aaron Ramsdale from a Harry Kane header, referee Craig Pawson blew the whistle for half-time.
The home side kicked off the start of the second half, and as in the first half, strong tackling appears to be the order of the day here. After a Dejan Kulusevski shot from the right wing flew over the bar, Aaron Ramsdale made a superb fingertip save from Harry Kane; the resulting corner from the home side went nowhere, and Spurs are putting us under pressure, with some excellent defending from our men denying them any chance of scoring at this point in the match. Gabriel Martinelli was fouled badly by Pape Sarr, who was booked for his trouble, and after Martin Ødegaard’s free kick went out for a throw-in, Eddie Nketiah received a great pass from Gabriel Martinelli and his excellent shot was saved by Hugo Lloris. The second half was far more of an end-to-end game than it was in the first, and both sides are trying hard to score. Harry Kane flicked a long ball into the path of Dejan Kulusevski but Thomas Partey got there first, and a few minutes later, it was almost party time for Gabriel Martinelli as he controlled the ball with his back! The subsequent pass to Thomas Partey saw his shot fly past the post. Gabriel Martinelli was booked for a foul and with twenty minutes of the match remaining, Eddie Nketiah could have wrapped everything up as he was picked out in space in the penalty area, but he shot straight at Hugo Lloris, which was a real wasted chance. Eric Dier received a booking for a nasty tackle on Bukayo Saka, and Clement Lenglet also received a yellow card for his part in the same incident too. Martin Ødegaard was fouled on the edge of the penalty area; Eddie Nketiah shot from the loose ball and it was saved, but Craig Pawson called it back for a free-kick, which Granit Xhaka took, and it flew over the bar and into the crowd. Kieran Tierney replaced Gabriel Martinelli with twelve minutes of the game remaining, and with nine minutes of the game remaining, after a short period of “to and fro” in our penalty area, Aaron Ramsdale made a superb save to stop the home side from scoring. Takehiro Tomiyasu replaced Oleksandr Zinchenko, and a minute or so later, Spurs won a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area as Ivan Perisic was clipped by Eddie Nketiah; the free kick taken by Son Heung-min went straight at our defensive wall, thankfully. In the five minutes’ injury time, Gabriel was booked for time wasting, ridiculously, and in the third minute of time added on, Emile Smith-Rowe and Fabio Vieira replaced Martin Ødegaard and Eddie Nketiah, and as Aaron Ramsdale caught a cross from Btyan Gil, the referee blew the final whistle, and as such, we ran out worthy winners.
All in all, it was a fantastic performance by the boys, particularly in the first half. Aaron Ramsdale was incredible today, and the team was dominant in all areas, which was great to see. We are now eight points ahead of Manchester City in the Premiership table tonight, and things are looking great, but we cannot let our heart rule our head; after al, they do not give winning medals out in January, we have to keep our resolve, hold our nerve and see where we end up in May.
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: Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday, 22nd January at 4.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. 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