SUNDAY 2nd DECEMBER, 2018
ARSENAL 4(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(2)
Aubameyang 10 (pen), 56
Kane, 34 (pen)
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Darren Cann & Dan Robathan
Fourth official:- Andre Marriner
Arsenal (3-4-3):- Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis (sub Guendozi, 71), Holding; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka (Capt.), Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan (sub Ramsey, 46), Aubameyang, Iwobi (sub Lacazette, 46)
Subs not used:- Cech; Lichtsteiner; Elneny, Maitland-Niles
Booked:- Mustafi (foul on Son), Xhaka (foul on Dele), Torreira (over-celebrating)
Spurs (4-3-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Foyth, Vertonghen, Davies (sub Rose, 82); Sissoko, Dier, Eriksen; Son (sub Lucas Moura, 79), Kane, Dele (sub Winks, 79)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Alderweireld, Walker-Peters; Llorente
Booked:- Vertonghen (handball), Dier (over-celebrating), Dele (foul on Xhaka), Aurier (foul on Holding)
Sent off (85):- Vertonghen (Second yellow card - foul in Lacazette)
The usual, sir? Yes please. Short at the back and sides.
I'd like to say that I cautioned against the over-confidence of masses of Spurs fans going into this game, but I did not go so far as to do that. I did however predict no more than a draw, which would have been a good result for us, keeping us above the old enemy. Things did not look good when we were simply overwhelmed in the opening stages, conceding a stupid penalty (Vertonghen). They looked better when we went in 2-1 up at half-time, but then we simply folded in the second half as Arsenal came back and scored no less than three goals to take our top four place and the gloating rights until we meet again here on December 19th in the Carabao Cup. I wouldn't give us much chance in that game either.
It is so sickening to traipse up to this stadium, year after year, hoping for a performance and a rare away win. I wouldn't even mind so much losing by the odd goal, but we've recently had two 5-2s, a 3-0 and last year's 2-0 and that's just off the top of my head. And yet there had been so much faux confidence about us getting a result today. New manager or not, the gooners got a convincing and deserved win today. It makes me sick to the bone.
"We weren't at the level we should have been" said Eric Dier in his post-match interview for the club. Too right Eric. I'll be honest, I lay the blame for this performance and defeat fully upon the manager. Why on earth did he (apparently) prefer 20 year old Juan Foyth over Toby Alderweireld - a seasoned, experienced and of course highly skilled defender. Foyth has had some good days recently, and made his senior International debut (in a friendly), but surely this was not the game to leave Alderweireld on the bench. Perhaps Mauricio fancied the pace of Foyth against Aubameyang, but surely in this of all games, there was no match for the guile of Alderweireld.
Then surely there is the issue of fresh legs. If Danny Rose was fit enough for the bench on Wednesday and today, why could he not play from the start instead of Ben Davies, playing his sixth successive game? Bearing in mind his performance I'd have taken Kyle Walker-Peters over Serge Aurier, who was too often found lacking today.
All that said, Jan Vertonghen was not at his best either, conceding a stupid early penalty, and being shown a second yellow card late in the game which will mean he misses Wednesday's game against Southampton.
Mauricio Pochettino got his team selection and strategy badly wrong today. Unai Emery went with a 3-4-3 which took us by surprise, I think, and until out back line moved forward, we were under the cosh from the home side.
Aubameyang had a header go over the bar from Mkhitaryan's cross after only one minute, and the onslaught by the home team did not weaken in those early stages. After a free kick from the left, probably heading for Aubameyang again, Vertonghen stuck a hand in the air, and referee Mike Dean blew for a penalty. Mike Dean is allegedly a Spurs fan according to Arsenal fans, but there was no evidence of that today.
A penalty being scored against Hugo Lloris is one of the most predictable events in football, and our captain was sent the wrong way by Aubameyang, who scored to the keeper's left.
Soon after the goal, Foyth managed to rescue a slip-up and Dele Alli took the ball on, feeding Son, who got into the box on the right side and at least forced a corner. Arsenal were getting too much space, particularly down our right flank and a cross by Kolasinac was cleared off the feet of Aubameyang.
After an Arsenal free kick and another cross by Kolasinac, Iwobi's shot was saved. Eriksen threaded a ball for Sissoko, but Moussa had been called offside. Spurs won a corner after a ball by Dele to Eriksen's whose attempted pass was out out by Kolasinac. Following that corner and Eriksen's ball to Son, "Sonny" had a shot saved at the near post by Leno, who also got the better of Son's attempt to follow up. At least Spurs had begun to have some impact on the game.
Son was the provider for an attempted lob shot by Sissoko, which Leno held. Things got better for Spurs when they were awarded a free kick out on the left. Davies and Eriksen shaped to take the kick, which was taken by Eriksen and headed home at the near post by Eric Dier. There was a melee on the touch line after Dier's over-exuberant celebration in front of the home fans, for which he got booked by that Spurs-fan referee!
Minutes later, Spurs had the lead. Harry Kane laid off a nice ball for Son to advance into the Arsenal area, and Holding caught his heels leading to a penalty. Just as one of life's certainties is that Lloris does not save penalties, Harry Kane doesn't miss them either, and he scored confidently to the right of Leno in the Arsenal goal. At this stage we had the bragging rights.
After 43 minutes Iwobi crossed from the left and Lloris saved from Aubameyang who was called offside anyway. In added time, Arsenal had three corners from the left, worked by Iwobi and Mkhitaryan. Their best chance to score came from Mustafi's shot which Lloris saved.
Emery made a bold double substitution at half-time taking off both Iwobi and Mkhitaryan. Lacazette joined Aubameyang up front whilst Ramsey fell into a position behind those two.
Spurs started the second half quite well, with Kane cutting in from the right and hitting a shot which took a deflection for a corner. Dele Alli was taking a bit of stick from the Arsenal players and after another foul, Eriksen took a free kick from which we also won a corner. Harry Kane tried a right footed free kick from our left, which was cleared.
Arsenal equalised in the 56th minute and the scorer was again Aubameyang, who now has 10 Premier League goals to his name. It was a good goal too, coming from a passing move down the right channel, with Ramsey getting the assist. Aubameyang scored just inside Lloris's post.
I would have settled for 2-2, which would have kept us above the "enemy", but I was desperate for some fresh legs on the field. There was no move from the manager until too late. Arsenal were in the front foot for pretty much most of the game hereafter, with the Spurs goal under great pressure, and mostly kept intact by the profligacy of the home side.
Son did get one chance of offering respite following a poor defensive ball in the Arsenal half, but his right footed shot was easily saved.
I'll be honest with you, I can hardly read my own notes, and I am writing this report without the benefit of watching a TV replay. I think it was the Arsenal third goal which followed a Spurs throw on the right. Ironically, Pochettino himself had raced to retrieve the ball and ensure a quick throw-in, but of course, Spurs worked the ball backwards, and lost it allowing Ramsey to make the final pass again for Lacazette to score with his left foot just inside the post. I think Juan Foyth slipped at a crucial time in the build-up to this goal. Lacazette's shot also took a deflection off Eric Dier.
The game was well and truly up two minutes later when Torreira scored from Aubameyang's pass.
So we were 4-2 down before Mauricio made any tactical changes. Lucas Moura replaced Son, and Winks placed Dele. Lucas Moura did have a header go wide from a corner, before Danny Rose replaced Davies. All was lost when Vertonghen saw a second yellow for his foul on Lacazette, and to be honest, I had lost all interest in the game by this stage.
So, we dust ourselves down and prepare for a home game against lowly Southampton. Arsenal have a trip to Old Trafford. Maybe we will regain our top four place, but I wouldn't count on it. This was a chance to truly consolidate the position, and we failed dismally. Emery and his team achieved a tremendous success today, and it made me sick to the bone. Did I say that earlier? Oh, I really mean it!
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