Mourinho finally has Tottenham firing as Spurs claim bragging rights in North London derby

Tottenham vs Arsenal

Sunday’s marquee Premier League clash pitted Tottenham vs Arsenal in the final north London derby of the campaign.

Arsenal headed into the clash as the side more in form, and by some distance.

Mikel Arteta has improved the Gunners’ backline a great deal in recent months, with Arsenal having been undefeated in their previous five outings before Sunday, a span over which they conceded just two goals.

Tottenham, on the other hand, had looked completely devoid of any sort of attacking threat lately, and found themselves in real danger of slipping out of the race for a Europa League spot.

Arsenal headed into the tie 8th in the Premier League table, four points adrift of 7th-placed Sheffield United. Spurs, meanwhile, were a point adrift of their capital rivals.

The teams

Somewhat surprisingly, Mikel Arteta opted to leave Bukayo Saka on the bench vs Spurs, with Nicolas Pepe having returned to the starting line-up.

As for Spurs, they made three changes from their drab 0-0 draw vs Bournemouth earlier this week, with Lucas Moura, Heung-min Son and Davinson Sanchez in for Steven Bergwijn, Erik Lamela and Jan Vertonghen.

Tottenham on top

Despite Spurs’ lack of attacking quality of late, Lucas Moura would get a decent shot off with less than 30 seconds on the clock this evening.

The Lilywhites set up in a 4-4-2 early doors, with Moussa Sissoko on the right, and Son up top with Kane – a formation clearly employed by Mourinho to provide Kane with the support he has been so desperately lacking in recent weeks.

And it did look to have worked to some extent inside 10 minutes, when a searching ball from Lucas found Kane, whose lofted effort was clawed away by Emiliano Martinez.

As for the visitors, they started the tie in an unusually sloppy manner, giving the ball away on numerous occasions in the opening exchanges – one of which led to the aforementioned chance for Kane.

The Gunners had a solid chance of their own moments later, though, when Hector Bellerin fizzed a cross to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who couldn’t quite connect with his strike.

Alexandre Lacazette then fired Arteta’s men into the lead with an absolute rocket from the edge of the box.

Mourinho will no doubt have been very disappointed with Serge Aurier in the build-up to the opener, after the defender’s rather weak attempt at a tackle.

The Portuguese tactician will have been much more pleased with his side’s response, however.

Sead Kolasinac’s awful pass to David Luiz saw Son latch onto the loose ball, before taking it round Martinez to equalise.

The hosts, as they had done before the opener, continued to dominate the tie, and actually created a smattering of chances in the final third.

Ben Davies would nearly give Spurs the lead on the half-hour mark with a thunderous strike from distance, but his effort rattled Martinez’s crossbar.

Nicolas Pepe then went down the other end to bend a 25-yard strike of his own just wide of the post, as both sides attempted to outdo each other from long range.

The first half of the action-packed tie, though, drew to a close with the score level.

Tottenham victorious

The second 45 began with some fairly end-to-end action, though Tottenham appeared to be sitting some way deeper than they had early on.

This only invited pressure from Arsenal, and the Gunners should have taken the lead after 59 minutes, but Aubameyang smacked his chance off the bar.

The Arsenal captain came close again with 10 minutes remaining, but Hugo Lloris denied him this time.

Martinez was then called into action at the other end just minutes later, bursting off his line to close down Kane.

This effort, though, made its way out for a corner. And it was from this set-piece that Toby Alderweireld rose above everyone to fire Tottenham into the lead.

Kane then had a superb chance to kill the game off, but Martinez came up big for Arsenal again to keep them in the match.

Regardless, Spurs were able to hold out for all three points, leapfrogging Arsenal in the Premier League table.

Has Mourinho found Spurs’ best system?

One of the biggest issues for Tottenham under Mourinho, especially in recent weeks, has been a lack of identity.

The 4-2-3-1 system largely employed by the former Manchester United boss of late hasn’t worked too well from an attacking perspective.

This was perfectly illustrated by the fact that Spurs didn’t manage a single shot on target vs Bournemouth earlier this week, despite the Cherries possessing one of the worst defences in the division.

Against Arsenal, though, whether it was Mourinho switching to a 4-4-2 to provide Kane with some support, or simply some harsh words from the Portuguese tactician post-Bournemouth, Tottenham were much more lively going forward.

In total, the Lilywhites managed nine shots on goal during the derby, with Kane having taken up a much more attacking role throughout the 90 minutes, rather than coming deep as he has so often done under Mourinho.

Moussa Sissoko also did a solid job on the right, taking the ball forward well and providing some defensive support for a somewhat unreliable Serge Aurier.

Granted, they did sit back more in the second 45. But this could have been in part due to the fact that Tottenham were afforded such a short turnaround from their previous outing, with Mourinho possibly looking to conserve his players’ energy.

Whatever the reason, though, it paid off today, and going forward, 4-4-2 could well prove Tottenham’s go-to formation.

See also: Manchester United vs Southampton live streaming and betting tips

Chelsea FC vs Norwich City live streaming & betting tips


This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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