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Sonny strikes late to seal win over Gunners

Spurs 1-0 Arsenal

Sun 08 August 2021, 15:55|Tottenham Hotspur

Heung-Min Son’s late winner ensured we remained undefeated throughout our pre-season campaign as we took the north London derby honours with a 1-0 win against Arsenal in the final match of The Mind Series on Sunday.

Our South Korean international forward settled the match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a clinical finish in the 79th minute to give us victory over our neighbours and the perfect outcome ahead of next weekend’s Premier League opener against Manchester City.

New Head Coach Nuno Espirito Santo was in charge for his first home game since taking over and both teams fielded strong starting line-ups, with club captain Hugo Lloris and Davinson Sanchez both making their first pre-season appearances for us from the start, while Giovani Lo Celso did likewise off the bench in the second period. The Gunners included new signing Ben White.

It took just six minutes for us to fashion the first chance of the game, Son firing a 20-yard half volley just wide and he went close again 10 minutes later. Lucas Moura breezed past White down the left of the area and his low cross was met by Son six yards out, but Bernd Leno was out quickly to smother.

Arsenal came back into the game and had three good opportunities, all falling to Alexandre Lacazette. The first on 21 minutes – a 25-yard shot – was palmed away by Lloris before the striker lashed a volley wide from Kieran Tierney’s accurate cross from the left four minutes later. He then clipped the outside of the post with a right-footed curler just after the half-hour.

The best chance of the first half came on 41 minutes when Lucas threaded a ball in to Son on the left edge of the six-yard box and he squared it across for Dele Alli who just had to side-foot home, only for his shot to hit the post with the rebound flicking off Leno as Arsenal cleared their lines.

And there was a repeat of that action to kick-start the second half chances, in the 59th minute. Son whipped in a free-kick from the right which Sanchez glanced on but Dele, stretching at the back post, could only divert the ball against the upright. Moments later, Sergio Reguilon was released down the left, bursting into the area before hitting an angled drive past Leno’s far post.

There was a lovely moment mid-way through the second half when Gunners forward Bukayo Saka entered the fray as a substitute for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and received a warm round of applause from the Spurs supporters, a show of unity and solidarity against racism and discrimination.

Lo Celso came off the bench for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on 68 minutes to get his first minutes in pre-season but the game itself had started to drift a little, neither side really creating much in attack. And then came our opening goal! Japhet Tanganga showed great tenacity to win the ball from Nicolas Pepe deep in Arsenal territory, then received a clever pass from Lo Celso before finding Son, who fired home from 10 yards.

Arsenal rallied late on with substitute Folarin Balogun dragging a shot across the face of goal, while Saka failed to connect properly with Emile Smith Rowe’s pass and Pierluigi Gollini – on for Lloris – saved comfortably.

The final action of the game saw Eric Dier’s 25-yard free-kick just clear Leno’s crossbar as we held on for victory, although it was Chelsea who won The Mind Series. The competition allocated a point for every goal as well as the usual three for a win, one for a draw system, so the Blues came out on top by a solitary point from us, with Arsenal bottom.

Reaction on Spurs TV

Nuno's view

Nuno told Spurs TV after the game: “It wasn’t an outstanding performance, I wouldn’t say that. We are in the process of trying to improve. Each day, we get better. Honestly, it’s not yet what we expect and what we have the ambition to be - a good team, a compact team, solid. There were good movements and offensive chances, but they have to be finished well. But, very good things, we also played a very good team, our local rivals, and it was a good game, so lots of aspects to take on board.”

Highlights on Spurs TV

Spurs 1-0 Arsenal

Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c) (Gollini 68), Tanganga (Aurier 87), Sanchez (Rodon 73), Dier, Reguilon, Skipp (Winks 84), Hojbjerg (Lo Celso 68), Bergwijn, Dele, Lucas, Son (Scarlett 84). Substitutes (not used): Whiteman, Doherty, Sissoko, Davies, Carter-Vickers, Omole, Clarke, John.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno, Bellerin (Maitland-Niles 64), White (Chambers 63), Mari, Tierney (Tavares 81), Lokonga (Elneny 73), Xhaka (Cedric 81), Pepe (Nelson 81), Smith Rowe, Aubameyang (c) (Saka 63), Lacazette (Balogun 73). Substitutes (not used): Hein, Runarsson, Kolasinac.

Match data

Goal: Spurs – Son 79.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Dele, Skipp, Reguilon; Arsenal – Tierney, Xhaka.

Referee: David Coote.

Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Weather: Sunny spells, moderate breeze, 19 degrees.