SUNDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER, 2021
ARSENAL 3(3) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)
Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- Ian Hussin, Dan Robathan
Fourth official:- Peter Bankes
VAR:- Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR:- Constantine Hatzidakis.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1):- Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka (sub Sambi, 82); Saka (sub Maitland-Niles, 87), Odegaard, Smith-Rowe (sub Tavares, 88); Aubameyang (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Leno; Holding, Cedric; Pepe; Lacazette, Martinelli
Booked:- Odegaard, Sambi (foul on Gil)
Spurs (4-3-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Tanganga (sub Emerson Royal, 46), Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon; Dele (sub Skipp, 46), Hojbjerg, Ndombele (sub Gil, 70); Lucas Moura, Kane, Son
Subs not used:- Gollini; Romero, Rodon, Davies; Lo Celso; Scarlett
Booked:- Skipp (foul on Partey)
It’s a “No to Nuno” from me
The Emirates is never a nice place to go to for a Spurs fan. It is surely the worst place on Earth to go to when your team is humiliated, and the home fans gleefully sing "You'll always be (a word that Newsnow will not even allow me to indicate with asterisks!)". They were not wrong in that regard today. The Spurs performance today was nothing but a disgrace to the memory of all those players before them that have worn the shirt, especially Jimmy Greaves, who was remembered today. To give the home fans their due, they stood and applauded our legendary player.
Spurs coach Nuno admitted after the game he got his game plan wrong. That was evident to Spurs fans before kick-off, and clearly to Arsenal who waltzed through our midfield at will to rack up a three-goal lead inside 34 minutes. That’s three consecutive games (all London Derby matches) in which we have conceded three goals. Spurs haven’t done that since 2003, after which Glenn Hoddle was sacked when we found ourselves in 17th place after 6 games. In three games, and three defeats, Nuno has gone from first to eleventh. To heighten the despair, in the same time Arsenal have gone from a pointless bottom to tenth – above Spurs on goals scored. There are some horrible stats supporting the woeful performances of our team. It’s a “No to Nuno” from me.
Our coach did make half-time changes with Emerson replacing Tanganga (who today looked out of his depth) and Ollie Skipp replacing Dele, who has constantly been played out of position, and who has definitely lost his sparkle. Skipp at least soon showed he knew what this game meant to his team and their fans with two great tackles and a decent pass or two. Even Arsenal’s Japanese right back Tomiyasu knew the importance of this game, as of course did all his team. Emile Smith-Rowe is an Arsenal Academy graduate and currently one of their brightest stars. He too knew the importance of the game and scored their first goal, adding the assist to Aubameyang’s goal for Arsenal’s second.
When Heung-min Son gesticulated to Spurs fans to increase their support, after scoring our late goal, I admit to being angry. We fans have travelled in hope to either Highbury or The Emirates and so rarely get the reward our support deserves. For Son to effectively criticise me and the other remaining travelling fans in the stadium was in my view outrageous. By this time, the game was of course (once again) a lost cause and many Spurs fans had already left. Lucas Moura would hit the bar with a late deflected and saved shot but Spurs could not stop the inevitable defeat.
What is perhaps most disgusting about this hapless surrender is that we have given our enemies the impetus and confidence to carry on their rise up the table. None of our new signings started, as has been widely reported and when at least we had Emerson then Gil on the pitch (plus of course Skipp) we did look a better team.
Ndombele is a luxury player. He does not belong in any team where he has a defensive responsibility. He has to be a “number 10”. I think his Spurs future lies in the Conference League and other less important games.
The game was preceded by great respect for Jimmy Greaves around the ground. I applauded the commitment of Arsenal fans to that applause. Any love was soon last once the taunting chants began.
Spurs kicked off and had a half chance after 5 minutes, but their final shot was well wide of the target. Smith-Rowe started a swift move feeding the ball to Tierney who crossed for Aubameyang. His shot was turned away by Lloris but there had been an offside anyway. Smith-Rowe advanced again in a central position, and scored after swift play by Odegaard and Saka. It was an easy finish for the 21-year-old with Spurs in disarray due to Arsenal’s swift passing movement. We’ve even let them play better than in any previous league game this season! Reguilon was nowhere to be seen in any attempt to prevent the cross.
Lucas Moura made a good determined run and passed to Ndombele who fed the ball out to Reguilon on the left. The ball came back inside but the shot was well off target, perhaps from Lucas Moura. Aubameyang got the better of Reguilon and passed inside to Saka who laid the ball up for Partey, whose shot was pushed over by Lloris. Aubameyang subsequently hit a 25-yarder over the target.
Spurs attacked through Lucas and Dele with Son hitting a shot from the left side which forced a save from Ramsdale and a corner which came to nothing. Kane received a ball from Lucas, but fired well over from outside the box. Arsenal went two up after a Spurs attack broke down and the home side countered with pace and penetration (something so sadly lacking from our team). Smith-Rowe had the beating of Sanchez inside the Spurs area and when he crossed to Aubameyang he hit the net to the right of Lloris. Even the Arsenal fans in the top tier above this goal spent most of the match on their feet.
Two down became three and it was after a failure by Kane on the edge of the Arsenal area which led to another swift break. Smith-Rowe was back in the middle and when Saka received the ball he beat Lloris with a sharply taken shot. Kane missed a header at the other end from close range after a cross by Son.
Sanchez won an important header from a Saka cross before Oliver Skipp soon showed his mettle and set an example to those around him. There seemed to be a VAR delay after one Arsenal cross and action in the box, but the game continued. Finally Spurs showed some real endeavour but an hour had passed. Emerson passed inside and Kane’s shot was pushed over by Ramsdale to great acclaim from his new fans. Kane had another chance after a pass from Dier, but that was wide.
Gil replaced Ndombele, but Arsenal did show Spurs how to play out effectively from the back and quickly switch to attack. Perhaps we allowed that through a lack of challenges. After some good passing play, Saka hit a shot and Lloris had to save again. Spurs’ goal came after good play down the left flank with Gil passing to Reguilon, whose cross was converted by Son. Ramsdale even got a touch to this, but not enough to keep the ball out of the net.
Xhaka received lengthy treatment and was replaced by Sambi Lokonga. Tierney hit a speculative shot wide after a throw from the right. There were five minutes of added time and Lucas Moura hit a shot which was deflected then pushed onto the bar by Ramsdale. I should have left earlier, but now, as I’ve done many times before, I slunk away to escape the taunting of the home fans. There was one more taunt for me to face as I passed the statue of Arsenal’s Thirties manager Herbert Chapman, once a Spurs player of course. Even Mr. Chapman seemed to be grinning.
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