Five things we learnt from the North London derby

James Roche Roar Rookie

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    Arsenal defeated rivals Tottenham Hotspurs 2-0 after first-half goals Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sánchez at the Emirates.

    The result meant that the Gooners moved just one point behind Spurs after both played 12 games in the Premier League.

    1. Wenger wins the battle of the dugouts
    Wenger has often been accused of his tactical rigidity; the inability to exploit the opposition and combat their strengths. However, against Spurs he was able to plan a hard press that gave Spurs little time to settle on the ball.

    The wing-backs in Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies were forced into their own half for a lot of the game and were unable to contribute. The three centre-backs also struggled with their passing out from the back, often forced into poor chipped passes to Harry Kane.

    2. Arsenal’s discipline has improved
    Despite an early booking, Granit Xhaka was able to dominate Spurs’ midfield duo of Mousa Dembélé and Moussa Sissoko. The whole team was very well disciplined and able to execute their manager’s tactics.

    In recent years Arsenal have seemed to lack the heart and desire to be able to compete at the highest level. However, in this game they chased and bullied their rivals from the first to the last minute.

    They showed both pace on the counter as well as a rigid shape without the ball that meant that Spurs couldn’t impose themselves on the game.

    (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

    3. Spurs’s struggles in big away games
    Despite a number of years of success under Mauricio Pochettino, the team have often struggled in away games against the league’s top six sides.

    Most recently against Manchester United, Spurs showed signs of strength but eventually lost out to a late Anthony Martial winner.

    Spurs lacked composure and showed signs of fragility in the derby, and if they are to be a real challenger to league leaders Manchester City, they will need to address their failings away from home.

    Former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was famously quoted in a team talk describing the game as, “Lads, it’s Tottenham”. And it seems that they have been unable to shake this tag.

    4. Comeback from injuries
    The England trio of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks all withdrew from Gareth Southgate’s squad prior to the game. Both Kane and Alli started the game, but after both were substituted on at the 74th minute of the game it appeared to be a gamble that did not pay off.

    Both Kane and Alli looked short of fitness and combined with Arsenals work-rate both were unable impose themselves on the game. They also seemed to miss Toby Alderweireld in the defence, with Arsenal able to exploit the channels between the back three and wing-backs.

    5. More Mike mistakes
    Referee Mike Dean has a habit of being on centre-stage in the big games. He is often accused of this theatrical refereeing style that does not allow the game to flow.

    The most controversial decision came when Davinson Sánchez was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Alexis Sánchez with the scoreline at 0-0. For many it seemed like a fair challenge, but from the resulting free-kick Mustafi was able to head home for Arsenal.

    Dean also set his stall out early with the failure to book Granit Xhaka for a cynical foul as Spurs broke. Xhaka did receive a yellow card a little later, but Dean allowed a number if hard challenges to occur throughout the game.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • November 20th 2017 @ 10:24pm
      Gavin R said | November 20th 2017 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

      Wenger may have won this but you cant argue against the shift of power. Its certainly in the balance. Players want to leave Arsenal and Tottenham are improving every year. They will however struggle to keep Dele, Harry and Danny; potentially others, too. This will be the big test. Put up big contracts or they’re gone.

      A more composed and disciplined Xhaka is vital to Arsenal. He has a big future at the club. He can dominate midfield and has the ability to chip in with the odd 20-25 yard strike.

      Mustafi’s goal was class but the defending was average. If you cant defend that scenario, you need to go back to the drawing board.

      • November 21st 2017 @ 5:04am
        James Roche said | November 21st 2017 @ 5:04am | ! Report

        Arsenal’s home form has been solid, but their biggest test will be going somewhere like Burnley next weekend and winning. If I were an Arsenal I would be disappointed if the work-rate shown on Saturday isn’t repeated. Although I wonder whether they are trained well enough to keep up the same tempo.

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