Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur: 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur engaged themselves in an absorbing encounter in the 185th installment of the North London Derby. The game ended 2-2 and looked a fair reflection of everything that transpired at the Emirates.
The hosts got off the blocks quickly and controlled the ball early. However, they were caught by the proverbial sucker punch when Christian Eriksen made the most of some slack defending by the Gunners.
In the 40th minute, Granit Xhaka gifted the visitors a penalty with a dire tackle. Harry Kane made no mistake from twelve yards and doubled Spurs’ advantage.
However, the hosts got a goal back on the stroke of half-time when Alexandre Lacazette danced past a couple of challenges before beating Hugo Lloris with a rasping shot.
The Gunners continued in the ascendancy in the second half and were rewarded for their endeavours in the 71st minute when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang popped up with his third goal of the season.
Though both sides had opportunities to carve out a winner, neither team was able to do so and the match ended deadlocked at 2-2.
Here is a look at the talking points from the game:
#5 The Gunners produce the archetypal ‘Arsenal’ performance in the first half
At kick-off, Arsenal and Unai Emery signalled their intentions to start on the front foot. The hosts’ most potent weapons, Nicolas Pepe, Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started in tandem for the first time and that hinted at an offensive approach.
The Gunners started on that note too as they bossed proceedings for the first ten minutes, constantly putting Tottenham under the cosh. However, akin to several times before, they contrived to let their advantage slip courtesy a couple of questionable defensive decisions.
Firstly, David Luiz found himself caught in no man’s land near the half-way line after Granit Xhaka and Sokratis lost an aerial battle with Kane.
The Brazilian then stood like a mannequin as Son Heung-min dribbled past him comfortably. The Korean slid in a through ball for Erik Lamela, who fired a right-footed shot at goal.
The strike, despite lacking power, wasn’t collected cleanly by Bernd Leno, who tamely palmed it into the path of Eriksen. The midfielder gleefully accepted the invitation and slotted the ball home.
Half an hour later, Xhaka dreadfully lunged in on Son in the penalty area. To put things into further perspective, that particular tackle was arguably much dafter than the one Luiz committed a week ago. Inevitably, the referee pointed towards the spot.
Kane stepped up and smashed the penalty to Leno’s right to compound the hosts’ misery.
Yet, the Gunners had the last say in the half when Lacazette tip-toed his way past a couple of defenders before blasting the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Thus, through the course of the first half, Arsenal had showcased the characteristics that have become synonymous with them over the past few seasons: threatening with the ball but equally dire without it.
And, rather painfully for the Emirates faithful, that narrative has been scripted far too often for their liking.