Not to be for our 10 men in dramatic derby - match report and debrief
Arsenal 2-1 Spurs
Sun 14 March 2021, 18:32|Tottenham Hotspur
An unbelievable goal from Erik Lamela wasn’t enough to get us a result in the north London derby, as Arsenal took the points at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The midfielder produced a wonderful ‘rabona’ goal to put us in front against the run of play in the first half, but the Gunners levelled on the stroke of half-time through Martin Odegaard and won the match thanks to Alexandre Lacazette’s 64th-minute penalty. Lamela was then dismissed for a second booking with 14 minutes left and although Harry Kane struck the post and Davinson Sanchez saw the rebound cleared off the line late on, we couldn’t find an equaliser and fell to our first defeat in five matches against Arsenal.
The first shot of the game didn’t come until the 15th minute, Arsenal showing their early dominance with Granit Xhaka’s 25-yarder sailing well over and moments later, Emile Smith Rowe cracked a long-range drive against the crossbar. We’d been second best for most of the half but had a little spell of possession around the half-hour mark which ended with the opening goal. There didn’t seem much on when Lucas Moura touched the ball to Lamela inside the area with a flurry of Arsenal players between him and the goal, but the Argentine produced a stunning piece of skill, wrapping his left leg behind his right and hitting a clean, crisp shot through Thomas Partey’s legs and past Bernd Leno into the far bottom corner.
Back came Arsenal though, Cedric Soares’ fierce drive from the edge of the area hitting the outside of the post on 37 minutes before they levelled just before the interval. Most of their openings had come from their left flank and this was no different, Kieran Tierney this time delivering a cross which Odegaard hit left-footed from 15 yards out, the ball flicking off Toby Alderweireld and trickling into the net.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first, with the home side on top while we struggled to get anything going offensively and they went in front from the penalty spot. Sanchez was penalised for a challenge on Lacazette in the area despite the Arsenal player having already sliced his shot wide, and it was Lacazette who stepped up to send Hugo Lloris the wrong way from 12 yards.
Hopes of salvaging a draw were made all the more difficult when Lamela was sent off for a second yellow card although we thought we’d levelled it up in the 83rd minute when Kane headed Lucas’ free-kick past Leno, but the flag went up for off-side. We went so close again in the final minute of the 90, Kane’s low curling free-kick from 25 yards out beating Leno but not the post, with Sanchez sending the rebound towards goal but Gabriel headed it off the line. Kane had one final chance with yet another free-kick deep into stoppage time, but couldn’t keep this one down and with it went our hopes of heading up the Seven Sisters Road with a share of the spoils.
Disappointing derby display
We went into the game off the back of five straight wins in all competitions and with confidence high, but our performance on the day was below par and Arsenal took full advantage. It was a slow start from us and we were pushed back for much of the opening half-hour, almost falling behind in the 16th minute when we gave the ball away in a dangerous area and Smith Rowe took aim from distance, beating Lloris but not the crossbar and we scrambled the ball away.
We were dealt a real blow shortly after when Heung-Min Son pulled up chasing a long ball and was immediately substituted for Lamela. But he went on to have a major impact in the game, starting with that amazing goal to break the deadlock. Gareth Bale switched the ball from right to left to Sergio Reguilon, whose volleyed pass found Lucas in the box and he laid it off for Lamela, who stunned everyone with his ‘rabona’ finish – his second in our colours after his famous effort against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League in October, 2014.
Arsenal were getting plenty of joy down the left and went close on 37 minutes after Smith Rowe pulled a cross back for Lacazette, for some reason he stepped over the ball when a shot from 12 yards seemed the better option although it ran to the edge of the area where Cedric moved onto the ball and struck a fierce drive against the outside of the post. Their equaliser through Odegaard was probably deserved and it was all square at the break.
Lacazette tested Lloris with a 20-yard effort which the skipper did well to gather low down to his right 10 minutes into the second half, before we fell behind with a controversial penalty decision. We gave the ball away deep inside our own half, Nicolas Pepe swiftly found Lacazette inside the area and although he horribly sliced his shot, Sanchez had already launched himself into a desperate challenge to try to block the ball and ended up making contact with the Arsenal player after he shot. A penalty was awarded and approved by VAR, with Lacazette converting the spot-kick.
Dele was just inches away from meeting Kane’s cross and Lamela’s looping header was gathered by Leno as we searched for an equaliser of our own, before Lamela was dismissed. His first yellow was for a foul on Partey, the second coming after his arm went up across the face of Tierney as he tried to protect the ball, referee Michael Oliver feeling it was dangerous play.
Arguably our best spell of the game came in the closing stages with only 10 men as Arsenal started to drop back and we were so close to forcing a draw, Kane’s free-kick crashing against the post and although Sanchez was quick to sweep the rebound goalwards, Gabriel was in the right place to head the ball clear. A frustrating afternoon.
Team news saw Jose Mourinho make just one change from our last Premier League line-up against Crystal Palace last weekend – Tanguy Ndombele coming in for Harry Winks. It was six changes to the team that started in our UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg win against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night.
Reaction on Spurs TV
'We deserved a point for what we did in the last 20 minutes'
Jose told Spurs TV: "The first half, probably... I don’t remember a worse performance than in the first half. I have to try to take my memory back, maybe the first half at Sheffield United before lockdown. I don’t remember such a bad first half like we had, but the result was 1-1. The game was not lost, it was open.
"We improved immediately in the second half. But even with 10 players and losing 2-1, then we were a team, then we played with intensity and with great desire and we deserved that point for what we did in the last 20 minutes playing with one player less and with the chances we created."
Arsenal 2-1 Spurs
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno, Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Saka (Pepe 46), Odegaard, Smith Rowe (Willian 78), Lacazette (c) (Elneny 88). Substitutes (not used): Ryan, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Ceballos, Aubameyang.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Doherty, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Reguilon, Højbjerg, Ndombele (Dele 62), Lucas, Bale (Sissoko 57), Son (Lamela 19), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Hart, Aurier, Dier, Davies, Winks, Vinicius.
Goals: Arsenal – Odegaard 44, Lacazette 64 (pen); Spurs – Lamela 33.
Yellow cards: Arsenal – Xhaka; Spurs – Reguilon, Sanchez, Lamela.
Red card: Spurs - Lamela.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Venue: Emirates Stadium.
Weather: Light rain, moderate breeze, 10 degrees.