Arsenal vs Tottenham
Sunday’s marquee Premier League clash would play out a short time ago.
Said game pitted Arsenal against Tottenham at the Emirates in the first North London Derby of the season.
The two sides headed into the match in contrasting form, with Arsenal winning their last two and Spurs losing their last two league clashes.
However, both sides will have been well aware that form goes out the window in games like this.
Nevertheless, it was Arsenal who dominated the early proceedings and opened the scoring after just 12 minutes.
Bukayo Saka created space on the right to slot the ball into the Spurs box. A static Tottenham backline then failed to pick up the incoming Emile Smith Rowe, who had no issues sliding the ball past Hugo Lloris.
Smith Rowe then turned provider shortly before the half-hour mark, slipping in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who made it 2-0.
Arsenal’s dominance continued and the game was out of sight after 36 minutes when Harry Kane gave the ball away and allowed the Gunners to break and make it 3-0.
“The youth is shining through for Mikel Arteta!” 🌟
Harry Kane gives the ball away and Arsenal capitalise!
Bukayo Saka puts Arsenal three goals up in the first half!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 26, 2021
Heung-min Son did pull one back with 12 minutes to go, but it was too little, too late. Said result means Arsenal have now moved up to 10th in the table, one place above Spurs.
Here are five things 101 learned from the match.
Granit Xhaka maintains faith of Mikel Arteta
Granit Xhaka has been a key figure at Arsenal for several years now. This comes despite the Swiss international being a fairly reckless player who has all but burnt his bridges with the Arsenal fanbase.
The latest installment of Xhaka’s poor judgment came just three games into the current Premier League season.
The midfielder was shown a straight red card after 35 minutes vs Manchester City, a decision that put an end to any hope Arsenal had of getting back into that clash.
Xhaka then contracted Covid-19, with the virus, along with his three-game suspension, having seen him miss out on Arsenal’s last two Premier League ties and the League Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon – all of which the Gunners won.
Yet, despite the 28-year-old once again proving that he is a reckless player and the club’s form improving without him, Xhaka was straight back into the starting line-up against Tottenham, showing that, for whatever reason, Arteta still trusts the midfielder.
In the Arsenal boss’ defence, his side would win on Sunday, but Xhaka was lucky to escape without a booking. Will Arteta’s faith in him cost the north Londoners against better sides?
Arsenal have finally found a solid backline
Arsenal under Mikel Arteta have generally had a decent defensive record.
However, one thing they had been lacking across the opening weeks of the 2021/22 season, which saw them concede nine in three league games, was a stable backline.
This was in part due to Covid-19 and injury issues. However, following the return of Ben White and Gabriel, the Gunners appear to have settled on a solid centre-back pairing, with the latter in particular playing a key role in Arsenal’s defence improving:
📊 Arsenal have won the last 7 PL matches that Gabriel has started, conceding only 2 goals
This is Arsenal’s youngest line-up (average age 24y, 258d) in a PL North London derby since Oct 2011 pic.twitter.com/55jyZ3NBdG
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 26, 2021
Elsewhere, the fairly defensive-minded Takehiro Tomiyasu has slotted in seamlessly.
The Japanese defender, who can be used as a centre-back, is the perfect fit for the Gunners’ asymmetric back-four, which generally becomes a back-three in attack, allowing the reliable Kieran Tierney to bomb down the left flank and add some creativity.
Shot-stopper Aaron Ramsdale also looks to have breathed new confidence into Arsenal’s defence, with the former Sheffield United man now seemingly ahead of Bernd Leno in the goalkeeper pecking order.
Start Saka on the right
One of Arsenal’s most effective attacking options on Sunday was Bukayo Saka.
The Englishman caused Sergio Reguilon all sorts of issues and would set up Smith Rowe for the opener.
This assist marked Saka’s first goal contribution in the PL this term, and just so happened to come in only his second start from the right – the other being a 45-minute appearance vs Man City.
The majority of Saka’s goals and assists in the league last term also came when he was used as a right-winger.
So, whilst it seems fairly obvious to say, Mikel Arteta clearly needs to start Saka from the right at every given opportunity as, whilst he can do a decent job on the left, the youngster is clearly much more impactful when cutting inside.
20 – Aged 20 years and 21 days, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is the youngest player in Premier League history to score and assist in a North London derby (previously Cesc Fàbregas in September 2007). Catalyst. pic.twitter.com/ttaC1obMiX
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 26, 2021
Tottenham’s midfield needs a revamp
Nuno Espirito Santo started both Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele in midfield vs Arsenal, with the pair operating in a double 8 pivot in front of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
This trio, especially the former pair, proved incredibly ineffective during the opening half.
Neither of Alli or Ndombele looked at all interested in tracking runners or making interceptions, leading to Arsenal running riot in midfield.
And whilst it is the most basic, Roy Keane-esque take, midfielders, especially in major games like this, need to give their all and run a lot more than either Ndombele or Alli did.
Even before Sunday’s game, though, the Alli experiment as a no.8 had fallen flat, with it becoming increasingly obvious that Nuno needs to revamp his midfield soon.
Unsurprisingly, Alli was hooked at half-time for Oliver Skipp, with Ndombele then making way around 20 minutes later.
Harry Kane’s mind is elsewhere
Harry Kane would, of course, see a potential move to Manchester City over the summer fail to materialise.
On the back of this, Kane has looked a shadow of the player that finished the 2020/21 season as the Premier League’s top scorer and assist-getter.
Following Tottenham’s loss to Chelsea last weekend, it was revealed that Kane had failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season for the first time since 2015/16, with the striker having attempted just four shots across his opening four games of 2021/22:
4 – Harry Kane has failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season for the first time since 2015-16, with the England striker attempting just four shots in this current campaign. Ghosting. pic.twitter.com/VBJLFcNnCR
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 19, 2021
And against Arsenal, we once again saw a similar story. The striker looked completely disinterested and, as well as giving the ball away ahead of the hosts’ 3rd goal, managed just one touch in the opposition box during the first half:
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) September 26, 2021
With Kane at Spurs until at least January, Nuno must do everything he can to get his star striker, who has not scored a PL goal in five outings now, firing as soon as possible.
This article was edited by Ben Browning.
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|4||Brighton & Hove Albion||8||3||15|
|7||West Ham United||8||5||14|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||7|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City||7|
|Antonio, Michail||West Ham United||5|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||5|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United||4|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur||4|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||4|
|Maupay, Neal||Brighton & Hove Albion||4|
|Sarr, Ismaila||Watford FC||4|
|Greenwood, Mason||Manchester United||4|
|Townsend, Andros||Everton FC||3|
|Ings, Danny||Aston Villa||3|
|Benrahma, Said||West Ham United||3|
|Gray, Demarai||Everton FC||3|
|Ronaldo, Cristiano||Manchester United||3|
|Aubameyang, Pierre-Emerick||Arsenal FC||3|
|Lukaku, Romelu||Chelsea FC||3|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United||3|
|Calvert-Lewin, Dominic||Everton FC||3|
|Jota, Diogo||Liverpool FC||3|
|Player||Team||Red Cards||Yellow Cards|
|Pogba, Paul||Manchester United||0||4|
|Dennis, Emmanuel||Watford FC||0||4|
|Veltman, Joel||Brighton & Hove Albion||0||4|
|Skipp, Oliver||Tottenham Hotspur||0||4|
|Antonio, Michail||West Ham United||0||2|
|Doucoure, Abdoulaye||Everton FC||0||3|
|Rice, Declan||West Ham United||0||3|
|Cooper, Liam||Leeds United||0||3|
|Duffy, Shane||Brighton & Hove Albion||0||3|
|Norgaard, Christian||Brentford FC||0||3|
|Tarkowski, James||Burnley FC||0||3|
|Laporte, Aymeric||Manchester City||0||3|
|Neves, Ruben||Wolverhampton Wanderers||0||3|
|Mings, Tyrone||Aston Villa||0||3|
|Canos, Sergi||Brentford FC||0||3|
|Struijk, Pascal||Leeds United||1||2|
|McArthur, James||Crystal Palace||0||3|
|Brownhill, Josh||Burnley FC||0||3|
|Etebo, Oghenekaro||Watford FC||0||3|
|Djenepo, Moussa||Southampton FC||0||3|
|Pogba, Paul||Manchester United||7|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||4|
|Doucoure, Abdoulaye||Everton FC||4|
|Jesus, Gabriel||Manchester City||4|
|Antonio, Michail||West Ham United||3|
|Saint-Maximin, Allan||Newcastle United||3|
|Kovacic, Mateo||Chelsea FC||3|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United||2|
|Townsend, Andros||Everton FC||2|
|Ings, Danny||Aston Villa||2|
|Benrahma, Said||West Ham United||2|
|Toney, Ivan||Brentford FC||2|
|Jimenez, Raul||Wolverhampton Wanderers||2|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||2|
|Manquillo, Javi||Newcastle United||2|
|Bowen, Jarrod||West Ham United||2|
|James, Reece||Chelsea FC||2|
|Azpilicueta, Cesar||Chelsea FC||2|
|Gross, Pascal||Brighton & Hove Albion||2|
|King, Joshua||Watford FC||2|