Tottenham Hotspur were defeated in the North London Derby this evening, conceding twice to Arsenal in the first half before struggling to score when they were on top in the second.
Let’s take a look at the five things we learned from the match:
The tide has turned again – I think most Spurs fans knew this already, but today was a perfect on-field representation on how the North London tide has turned once again. Spurs have been the better side for the majority of the past decade, but it appears Arsenal are now back on top. The big question is, what are Tottenham going to do about that?
Pape Matar Sarr debut – Making your full Premier League debut in the North London derby is an achievement in itself, but Sarr was arguably Tottenham’s best player on the pitch too. He put in an almost Bentancur-like performance in the middle of the park, showing quality on the ball, progressive passing, and maturity beyond his 20 years. That could just bump him up the pecking order above Bissouma and Skipp.
Injury returns – One silver lining from the dismal defeat was that Kulusevski and Richarlison are both back. The Swede played the majority of the match and was definitely Tottenham’s most potent attacking threat down that right side, while Richarlison came on for a 20-minute cameo and struggled to really get involved. Rodrigo Bentancur remained absent once again, though.
Top four race – The top four race feels like it is slipping away from Tottenham at the moment. Man United are now fourth and five points ahead of Spurs with a game in hand. Newcastle are five ahead on the same number of games in third. Even Fulham are just a couple of points behind Spurs. Unless the Lilywhites find some form in the next few weeks, the top four could be set already.
Conte tactics – While the performance of the players has to be questioned, as always, I think there were also question marks over the tactics chosen by Conte. Spurs were so outmanned and outgunned in the middle of the pitch, with Hojbjerg and Sarr often against four Arsenal players, it seemed strange there was no switch to a midfield three. Son and Kane up front, Kulusevski at right-wing-back, and Bissouma on for Doherty at the start of the second half would have been interesting, for example.
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