A first Premier League goal for Martin Odegaard and an Alexandre Lacazette penalty saw Arsenal come from behind to beat 10-man Spurs in the north London derby.
Mikel Arteta’s side dominated much of the match, but fell behind to an outrageous goal from Erik Lamela, who was later shown a red card.
The Spurs substitute, who had replaced the injured Son Heung-Min early on, produced a brilliant rabona effort that curled into the bottom corner of Bernd Leno’s goal on 33 minutes. But Arsenal, who hit the woodwork twice in an excellent first-half display, deservedly equalised on the cusp of half-time when Odegaard's shot took a deflection to wrong-foot Hugo Lloris.
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Arsenal continued to look the better side after the break, and the equaliser came from the spot when Davinson Sanchez fouled Lacazette and the Frenchman converted.
Spurs huffed and puffed and thought they had equalised late on when Harry Kane’s header found the bottom corner, only for the offside flag to go up. And Kane, who was given very little service, went close again late on when his free-kick cannoned back off the post.
But chances were in short supply for Spurs all afternoon, particularly after Lamela, who had been flirting with bookings throughout the match, was shown a second yellow for an arm to the face of Kieran Tierney. And Arsenal held on for the win that their performance very much deserved.
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The win is a major boost for Arsenal after a disappointing Premier League campaign, but the nature of the performance will mean a great deal to Arteta. His side controlled the game in midfield, partly due to the excellent displays from Tomas Partey and Granit Xhaka, but also due to pulling Spurs’ midfield completely out of shape. That ruthless exploitation of Tottenham’s weakness at right-back was the major source of Arsenal’s dominance, and Arteta revealed after the game that it was very much the plan to focus on that channel and disrupt Tottenham’s plans.
In contrast, Tottenham’s tactics were a bizarre departure from the approach that has seen them enjoy so much success of late. Jose Mourinho appeared to set up his side to sit deep, but it was a tactic that not only gave Arsenal encouragement but also left Spurs’ much-heralded front-three completely without service for much of the game. It was only late on, when chasing an equaliser, that Tottenham changed their approach, and it was only then that Kane was brought into the game – hitting the post and seeing a goal disallowed to show what might have been if the plan had been different.
Mourinho, as is his want, blamed the players for the lacklustre display, even accusing some of ‘hiding’. But the performance from Spurs was not dissimilar to those that saw the Portuguese coach’s side plummet down the table in the first two months of the calendar year, and it is hard to believe that none of responsibility for those repeated errors are down to the manager.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
The Scottish left-back was superb throughout, working brilliantly with Smith Rowe to completely dominate the left side for Arsenal. Matt Doherty had no answer to the joint threat.
Not content with being a major attacking outlet for Arsenal, Tierney also kept Gareth Bale quiet before the Welshman was withdrawn in the second half. And it was the left-back who pressurised Lamela into the fend-off that earned the Argentine his second yellow.
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Arsenal: Leno 6; Cedric 7, Luiz 7, Gabriel 7, Tierney 8; Partey 7, Xhaka 6; Saka 5, Ødegaard 7, Smith Rowe 8; Lacazette 6. Subs: Pepe 7, Willian 6, Elneny 6.
Tottenham: Lloris 6; Doherty 3, Sanchez 5, Alderweireld 6, Reguilon 6; Højbjerg 6, Ndombele 5; Bale 5, Lucas 6, Son 6; Kane 7. Subs: Lamela 6, Sissoko 6, Dele 6.
16’ – What a hit that is! Smith Rowe is given time and space to line up a shot from range and he rattles the crossbar with a terrific effort that Lloris was getting nowhere near.
33’ GOAL! – Oh my word, what a finish! That was quite the goal from Spurs. Bale’s raking pass found Reguilon on the left, who volleyed it expertly back into the box. Lucas brought it down rather than attempt a shot and set it slightly behind Lamela for the shot, but the Argentine sorted his feet out and bent a beautiful rabona nutmeg curling into the bottom corner. That’s one for the highlight reel!
37’ – Smith Rowe has been superb for Arsenal and opens Spurs up. He pulls the ball back but Lacazette strangely opts to leave it rather than go for goal. It almost turns into a goal anyway thanks to the efforts of Cedric, who busts a gut to get onto the loose ball and crunch a shot onto the post from the edge of the box. Another big let-off for Spurs.
44’ GOAL! – Tierney bursts past Doherty and puts in a cross that Odegaard turns towards goal. It looks harmless enough, but the effort takes a deflection off the heel of Alderweireld to leave Lloris stranded and nestle in the bottom corner. It’s fortunate, but Arsenal deserve it on the balance of play. 1-1!
63’ – Penalty for Arsenal! Lacazette makes an absolute hash of a chance, but Sanchez, stretching to try and block the effort, catches the Frenchman and it’s a spot-kick. That is very unfortunate for the centre-back in truth, but it is a foul and Lacazette has the chance to put Arsenal ahead.
64’ GOAL! – Lacazette sends Lloris the wrong way and slides his penalty right into the corner. 2-1!
76’ RED CARD! – It’s a second yellow for Lamela for a hand to the face of Tierney and he’s off! You can’t say it wasn’t coming.
83 NO GOAL! – Kane tucks a brilliant header into the far bottom corner from a free-kick cross, but he was offside when the set-piece was taken and it’s chalked off.
90’ – Kane’s free-kick is sensational, but it cannons off the far post and back into the mixer, and Gabriel does brilliantly to deny Sanchez’s goalbound shot on the follow-up.
- Arsenal’s win ended a run of five without victory in the derby.
- The Gunners have now lost just one of their last 28 derby games at home.
- Spurs have lost nine league games this season, the joint-most defeats Mourinho has suffered in a single Premier League campaign.
- Lamela becomes the fifth player in Premier League history to score and be sent off after coming on as a substitute.
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