MATCH REPORT: Tottenham 3 – 0 Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur (2) 3 Arsenal (0) 0

Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Road, London N17 0BX

Thursday, 12th May 2022. Kick-off time: 7.45pm

(4-2-3-1) Aaron Ramsdale; Cédric Soares, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Takehiro Tomiyasu; Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli; Eddie Nketiah.

Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Ben White, Alexandre Lacazette, Emile Smith-Rowe, Nicolas Pépé, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Zak Swanson, Charlie Patino.

Red Cards: Rob Holding

Yellow Cards: Rob Holding, Emile Smith-Rowe, Granit Xhaka

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 43%

Referee: Paul Tierney

Assistant Referees: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies

Fourth Official: Peter Bankes

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Mike Dean; AVAR Lee Betts

Attendance: 62,027

The day has finally arrived. This is the most eagerly anticipated North London derby for quite some considerable time. We all know what is at stake, and what needs to be done; the preparations have been made, the team decided. Everything else is now down to the boys, and whether they can deliver the necessary goods in order for us to progress to the Champions League next season.

We kicked off the match in a red-hot atmosphere, and we certainly had the best of the early stages of the game. Martin Ødegaard had the first shot of the match, after just three minutes, but Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal gathered the ball easily. Ryan Sessegnon got stuck in to win the ball back for Spurs, then ran down the right wing, however Gabriel did very well to stop him and won a free-kick inside his own penalty area. Rob Holding and Son Heung-min come together near the touchline; the Spurs forward won a free-kick and he was not happy with the follow-through, and complained to referee Paul Tierney; a couple of minutes later they clashed again, which the Spurs man made a bit of a meal of, to be frank. On the quarter of the hour, Gabriel Martinelli had acres of space to run into down the left, he cut it back towards Martin Ødegaard but the move was intercepted by the Spurs defence. We had another free-kick awarded to us after Bukayo Saka was fouled on the right, but Martin Ødegaard’s free-kick was easily cleared by the home side’s defenders. After twenty minutes, we had a penalty awarded against us when Cédric Soares was adjudged to have shoved Son Heung-min to the gound; Harry Kane made no mistake with the penalty kick. Shortly afterwards, Rob Holding was booked for a tackle on Son Heung-min, and the penalty gave the home side inspiration with them mounting a couple of strong attacks on our goal, fortunately none of them came to anything. Just after the half hour, the inevitable happened; Rob Holding was sent off for another foul on Son Heung-min, and we were now down to ten men and in trouble, quite frankly. Harry Kane got their second goal eight minutes before the break, and we were now very firmly on the back foot. We were under intolerable pressure, and we needed to get to half-time in one piece somehow. However, just before the break, Eddie Nketiah fired in a superb shot which was tipped over the bar by Hugo Lloris, but unfortunately the resulting corner went nowhere. We managed to hold out well (somehow) until the break, thankfully.

The home side kicked off proceedings for the second half, and with us down to ten men, and two goals down, what can we get from the second half? Within two minutes, the answer became clear; some sloppy play in our penalty area led to Son Heung-min easily scoring their third goal of the game. Spurs are not only putting us under pressure, but they are actively hunting for more goals taking advantage of the extra man in their favour. However, Gabriel Martinelli carried the ball down the left and teed up Bukayo Saka; his shot was blocked by Ben Davies and deflected into the path of Eddie Nketiah but bounced away from goal, but the resulting corner went nowhere, sadly. We then had a period of trying to keep the ball patiently but Gabriel Martinelli’s cross eventually curled straight out and into nowhere for a goal kick. Aaron Ramsdale made a superb save from Emerson Royal to prevent a fourth goal, and the match started to drift somewhat with lots of passing in the midfield area, but not a great deal of anything else. Again, our goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale made a superb save from Harry Kane’s twenty-five yard shot, and then Gabriel Martinelli was replaced by Emile Smith-Rowe after sixty-three minutes. This could be a very long remaining twenty-seven minutes for us here tonight. At times, all of our players are behind the ball, and the mindset appears to be not to let them score anymore goals; damage limitation, basically. Eddie Nketiah carried it up to the other end and did well to win a foul off Dejan Kulusevski; the free-kick delivery was comfortably headed away and Martin Ødegaard sent one into the top tier from long range. Alexandre Lacazette replaced Eddie Nketiah with twenty minutes left of the match, and after Gabriel went down to the ground with what seemed to be a hamstring injury, Nuno Tavares replaced him. Granit Xhaka whipped it in teasingly from the left but it was well headed away by Ben Davies; Bukayo Saka came back at them but Eric Dier was there again, before Cédric Soares’ cross ends up in the hands of the Spurs’ goalkeeper. We then had a decent chance to score when Nuno Tavares got in behind on the left and pulled it back for Martin Ødegaard, who hit the ball first time and made a good connection with it but it went straight at Hugo Lloris, who saved it easily. Emile Smith-Rowe was booked for a silly tackle on Lucas Moura, as was Martin Ødegaard a couple of minutes later on the same player; and then Granit Xhaka in injury time. Ridiculous. The full-time whistle could not come soon enough, and when it did, it was a relief.

What a terrible, terrible night. A nightmare, quite frankly. The red card for Rob Holding wa a disappointment, as was the injury to Gabriel late in the game. But it is what it is, and we must get maximum points from our final two matches, against Newcastle United and Everton, as our destiny is in our own hands, now. All eyes on St. James’ Park on Monday evening.

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: Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Monday, 16th May at 8.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

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

Sign Tielemans; Keep Elneny – Adding Strength and Depth to Arsenal’s Midfield

Talk is intensifying over a new contract for Mohamed Elneny. (Editor: runout is the contract is now agreed)

Alongside the talk about his contract renewal, Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans seems to be a player in our sight.

When it comes to Elneny, I am firmly in the “keep” camp.

I have always liked our curly haired Egyptian king. He is the exact sort of player you need in a 23 man squad.

Not everyone can be a superstar – unless you have Manchester City’s billions. You need players like Elneny who can come in, do a job, rarely let you down, and then won’t complain when back on the bench.

Elneny knows his game. He knows he is not a world beater and does not try to be. He keeps things simple. This is why he sometimes get criticised by Arsenal fans who seem to think every player should be a game changer.

In recent weeks, he has shown he is decent enough cover for the injured Thomas Partey.

In the past, Elneny being cover for Partey has worried me due to being African.

To lose both for up to 6 weeks in January could have spelt disaster. But from next season the African Cup of Nations becomes a summer tournament. So no longer will teams have to take into account losing players in the winter when recruiting.

Elneny might not be an inspiring contract renewal, but it is the right decision.

If we let him go, we probably then need to sign two new central midfielders.

Taking into account we need to invest heavily further up the field this season, a new Elneny deal makes sense.

We need reinforcements in midfield. But I would like to see us go big on someone like Youri Tielemans who would provide a new attacking dimension to our midfield.

If keeping Elneny as cover freed up the cash to splash on Tielemans I would be more than happy.

Tielemans would then come in as the competition for Granit Xhaka on the left hand side of the midfield three.

Partey and Odergaard would be the first name on the teamsheet. A decision would then be made between Tielemans and Xhaka depending on the opponent.

At home to Bournemouth where we want to set up more attacking, Tielemans starts. Away to Liverpool where we want a bit more defensive cover, Xhaka is given the nod.

The bench would also massively be strengthened.

If Tielemans is on the bench, he becomes a creative outlet if we are chasing a game. If Elneny and/or Xhaka is on the bench, they can come on and provide defensive cover if we are trying to close out the game.

£30-40million is the rumoured fee for Tielemans.

Keeping Elneny and signing Tielemans will give us great strength and depth in the middle of the park as we return to European football.

Keenos

Jarrod Bowen would be great cover for Bukayo Saka

Yesterday on Twitter there was a lot of chatter over who you would prefer. Jarrod Bowen or Bukayo Saka?

My answer is simple.

Bowen would be a fantastic option for Arsenal as back up for Saka.

Still just 25-years-old, Bowen has been in fine form this season with 10 goals and 10 assists. His form has surely got him knocking on the door for England where he would provide cover for Saka. Something which he would also do if he moved from East to North London.

Bowen ticks a lot of boxes – he is in the age range of recent Arsenal signings, is home grown and has Premier League and European experience.

Naturally left footed, he would be perfect cover for Saka without Arsenal needing to sacrifice playing style.

Bowen is also more than capable on his right foot which is why he is such a danger at times – he can go either way when taking on an opponent.

Bowen has shown clearly progression during his career.

52 goals in the Championship before moving to West Ham for just shy of £20million.

8 goals and 5 assists last season has turned into 10 and 10 this. Comfortably West Ham’s best player, he will surely be itching to take the next step and play at a higher level next season.

The only sticking point would be price tag.

Transfermarkt currently value him at £31.5million. This feels cheap.

I would imagine it would take an offer in excess of £40million to secure a man of Bowen’s profile; which might be too much for what would essentially be a back-up player. An understudy to someone 5 years his junior.

So Saka or Bowen? How about we have both in North London next season.

Talk is intensifying over a new contract for Mohamed Elneny. And I am in the “keep” camp.

I have always liked our curly haired Egyptian king. He is the exact sort of player you need in a 23 man squad.

Not everyone can be a superstar – unless you have Manchester City’s billions. You need players like Elneny who can come in, do a job, rarely let you down, and then went complain hen back on the bench.

Elneny knows his game. He knows he is not a world beater and does not try to be. He keeps things simple. This is why he sometimes get criticised by Arsenal fans who seem to think every player should be a game changer.

In recent weeks, he has shown he is decent enough cover for the injured Thomas Partey.

We need reinforcements in midfield. But I would like to see us go big on someone like Youri Tielemans who would provide a new attacking dimension to our midfield.

If keeping Elneny as cover freed up the cash to splash on Tielemans I would be more than happy.

Partey
Elneny
Odergaard Tielemans
Lokonga Xhaka

Tielemans would then come in as the competition for Granit Xhaka on the left hand side of the midfield three.

Partey and Odergaard would be the first name on the teamsheet. A decision would then be made between Tielemans and Xhaka depending on the opponent.

At home to Bournemouth where we want to set up more attacking, Tielemans starts. Away to Liverpool where we want a bit more defensive cover, Xhaka is given the nod.

The bench would also massively be strengthened.

If Tielemans is on the bench, he becomes a creative outlet if we are chasing a game. If Elneny and/or Xhaka is on the bench, they can come on and provide defensive cover if we are trying to close out the game.

In the past, Elneny being cover for Partey has worried me due to being African.

To lose both for up to 6 weeks in January could have spelt disaster. But from next season the African Cup of Nations becomes a summer tournament. So no longer will teams have to take into account losing players in the winter when recruiting.

Elneny might not be an inspiring contract renewal, but it is the right decision.

If we let him go, we probably then need to sign two new central midfielders.

Taking into account we need to invest heavily further up the field this season, a new Elneny deal makes sense.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Keenos