They were reduced to playing Mourinho-style. That’s really the essence of this North London Derby. For a half, Wenger got the tactics as right as he could, as Arsenal organized well defensively and occasionally offered a threat on the counter. Sooner or later perhaps one of Spurs defenders—likeliest Sanchez or Dier—might blink, and the Gooners would have a chance for a result.
But this team—despite the Spursy moment at the death when Lacazette might have equalized—is made of sterner stuff. Kane missed his first gilt-edged header chance—as he said at Anfield on Sunday, you don’t give him a second chance. Davies’ cross was perfect, the header back opposite perfectly placed, and that was that. He should have scored another, and so should Dele have, and also Lamela—but three points are three points.
The four attackers all had superb games but for Son, who seemed perhaps too eager to produce something special with his Asian POY award in his back pocket and Olympics undoubtedly on the brain. After an early squeamish pass or two, Eric Dier settled in nicely and had one of most assured games in a long while. Mousa Dembele was easily MOTM, simply bossing the likes of Xhaka and Wilshere all day long. But for the final hiccough that almost spoiled the entire effort, the back four played well. Toby will certainly join them in Turin, and I suspect both Rose and Aurier will swap with Trippier and Davies as well. But the ability of Spurs’ defenders to rush the Arsenal break before it could generate much steam was impressive.
Both keepers had fine games—Lloris assured for the entire affair and making the one save vs Wilshere that mattered; Cech kept Arsenal in the game with several stops, the ones on Lamela and Dele quite impressive. But Spurs were clearly the better side, and now with just City home and a staggering Chelsea away left to play among the Big Six, whereas most of their Top Four contenders must play twice that many against their brethren, a Champions League berth for the new ground seems quite likely.
Here’s the real kicker. There are much bigger fish to fry. Juventus are an elite European side playing stifling defence at the top of their form. And if somehow Spurs vanquish them as we did Madrid and Dortmund, an even tougher test will probably follow. The positions, roles and psychology have swapped. Gooners Goners Day is coming—let’s make it a regular occasion.
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