First half proves costly in Emirates defeat
Arsenal 3-1 Spurs
Sun 26 September 2021, 18:30|Tottenham Hotspur
A disappointing first-half display led to defeat in Sunday’s north London derby at the Emirates.
The home side scored three unanswered goals during that first period as we struggled to get anything going from an attacking perspective and were left with a mountain to climb in the second half. Heung-Min Son did score 11 minutes from time but it was too little, too late as we suffered a third consecutive Premier League defeat – all in London derbies.
On a sunny afternoon, there was the usual cracking derby day atmosphere inside the stadium from both sets of fans, but by half-time it was only the home supporters who had anything to cheer about. We fell behind in the 12th minute when Emile Smith Rowe side-footed home from Bukayo Saka’s cross and, while Son did test Aaron Ramsdale with an angled drive 10 minutes later, Arsenal doubled their lead on 27 minutes, Smith Rowe this time the creator with a cross which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted.
And it was 3-0 seven minutes later, Harry Kane tracking back to tackle Saka inside the area only for the ball to squirt out nicely for the Arsenal forward who slid a right-foot finish past Hugo Lloris.
It was a more even second half and Kane had a couple of chances just after the hour mark without success, but we did pull one back 11 minutes from time when Son swept home Sergio Reguilon’s cross from the left. We almost made it 3-2 early in stoppage time as Lucas Moura’s deflected shot looked like it was looping over Ramsdale, but the keeper just managed to tip it onto the bar and with that went any chance of a dramatic comeback.
Slow start leads to derby despair
There was the usual intensity in the early stages, both sides thinking they had early chances but Son and Aubameyang were both off-side before getting shots away. The hosts capitalised on a positive opening by taking the lead on 12 minutes. They worked the ball into midfield and were suddenly four against four, Martin Odegaard playing it wide to Saka and his cross into the middle was stroked home by Smith Rowe.
Arsenal were well on top at that stage and Thomas Partey had a shot parried away at full stretch by Lloris with Aubameyang drilling over from distance shortly after. We did respond though, Son winning possession on half-way and going on his own down the left, working a yard of space before smashing a shot from a tight angle which needed saving from Ramsdale.
But five minutes later, the Gunners doubled their lead as a result of a counter-attack down their left flank, Smith Rowe streaking clear and pulling the ball back for Aubameyang to tuck into the far corner. They added a third on 34 minutes after Kane lost the ball just outside the Arsenal box and the Gunners broke away again. Saka took up possession and, although Kane had sprinted back and made a good tackle, he was unfortunate as the ball fell kindly for Saka to score.
Kane headed just wide from Son’s out-swinging corner in the last chance of the half but as the second period opened up, Arsenal were on the offensive again, Davinson Sanchez just managing to get in front of Gabriel and clear the danger inside the six yard box. With a healthy lead, the home side could afford to sit back and we did start to come into the game more. On 61 minutes, Ramsdale got down to his right to push away Kane’s long-range effort with Takehiro Tomiyasu getting to the rebound ahead of Son to clear. And seconds later, Kane superbly controlled Eric Dier’s ball and clipped an effort over Ramsdale but it dropped just the wrong side of the upright.
Lloris denied Saka on 73 minutes, pushing away his low left-footed curler before we got on the scoresheet six minutes later. Substitute Bryan Gil showed good tenacity to win the ball back and find Reguilon, whose low cross was tucked into the far corner by Son. That led to a late spell of possession for us as Arsenal sat back on their two-goal lead and had Lucas’ dipping shot gone in, it might have led to a frantic final few minutes, but alas Ramsdale’s fine save prevented a second goal and we had to accept our fate.
Our earlier team news saw Nuno Espirito Santo make three changes to the team that started our last Premier League game against Chelsea last week, Tanganga, Sanchez and Lucas coming in for Emerson Royal, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.
Reaction on Spurs TV
'The game plan didn't work'
Nuno told Spurs TV afterwards: "What I thought is that the game plan didn’t work. That’s what I thought. We were all disappointed at half-time. It’s not about blaming anything, it’s about realising what we have to do. The analysis comes now.
"We played better in the second half, but the game was lost. We started well (in the second half), one early goal could put us back in the match, but we didn’t achieve it. We had chances, a couple of moments, but the overall game wasn’t good at all. We’re disappointed for the fans, the fans back home, it’s a tough, tough day for us."
Highlights on Spurs TV
Arsenal 3-1 Spurs
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Gabriel, White, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka (Lokonga 82), Saka (Maitland-Niles 87), Odegaard, Smith Rowe (Tavares 88), Aubameyang (c). Substitutes (not used): Leno, Lacazette, Holding, Soares, Pepe, Martinelli.
Spurs (4-3-3): Lloris (c), Tanganga (Royal 46), Dier, Sanchez, Reguilon, Ndombele (Bryan 70), Hojbjerg, Dele (Skipp 46), Lucas, Kane, Son. Substitutes (not used): Gollini, Rodon, Romero, Davies, Lo Celso, Scarlett.
Goals: Arsenal – Smith Rowe 12, Aubameyang 27, Saka 34; Spurs – Son 79.
Yellow cards: Arsenal – Odegaard, Lokonga; Spurs - Skipp.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Venue: Emirates Stadium.
Weather: Sunny intervals, gentle breeze, 21 degrees.