Petr Cech

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Defiant Pochettino: “Football was fantastic” in loss

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Mauricio Pochettino is defiant following Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 loss at Arsenal in the North London Derby on Saturday.

The Spurs manager thinks his team was pretty good in the loss, and it’s true that both Petr Cech and Shkrodan Mustafi intervened critically for the victors.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

But overall Arsenal was better on the day, which makes Pochettino’s almost buoyant post-match interview a bit awkward.

“It was an even game in terms of shooting, on target, possession,” Pochettino said.

“I’m disappointed for the rest of my team. You saw what happened. I’m disappointed because the small details went against us. … It’s true that they scored and we didn’t but I’m very proud cause the football was fantastic.”

We won’t go as far as to say we watched different games — Pochettino knows a bit more about the game than us — but that’s quite a spin we doubt his players will buy. Back to work for Spurs with a visit to Dortmund before West Brom visits next weekend.

Arsenal 2-0 Spurs: Classic Gunners

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  • Arsenal scores pair in 1st half
  • Mustafi stars at both ends
  • Gunners 1 pt back of second
  • Shots finish 14-14

Not so fast, Spurs.

Arsenal recalled North London Derbies of old with a strong 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Shkrodan Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez scored, while Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech also starred in the victory.

The fifth-place Gunners are a point behind Spurs and second-place Manchester United.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Alexandre Lacazette cut a chance well wide and high of the bar in the first five minutes, while Spurs’ Harry Kane forced Petr Cech into a sixth minute save.

There were chances at both ends and a frenetic pace of play as the match approached the 20-minute mark, with Hector Bellerin‘s inviting cross unanswered by Arsenal.

Mustafi provided the derby breakthrough at the back post off a sweeping free kick to boost the Gunners into a 37th minute advantage.

And Alexis used great work from a lively Hector Bellerin to make it 2-0 before the break, belting an in-tight effort near the upper 90.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half saw Spurs come out with an edge, no doubt buoyed by Mauricio Pochettino‘s vexed appearance, and Harry Kane burnished a dirty tackle to earn a yellow card.

Ozil set up Sanchez for a would-be third goal in the 76th minute, but Hugo Lloris quickly closed down the angle.

Mustafi had a fine intervention to block a late Kane shot, while Cech stopped Eric Dier from pulling one back late.

VIDEO: Pair of Arsenal goals have it 2-0 at half

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Goals from Shkrodan Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium have given Arsenal a 2-0 halftime lead in the North London Derby.

[ STREAM: Second half live ]

Alexandre Lacazette cut a chance well wide and high of the bar in the first five minutes, while Spurs’ Harry Kane forced Petr Cech into a sixth minute save.

There were chances at both ends and a frenetic pace of play as the match approached the 20-minute mark, with Hector Bellerin‘s inviting cross unanswered by Arsenal.

Mustafi provided the derby breakthrough at the back post off a sweeping free kick to boost the Gunners into a 37th minute advantage.

And Alexis used great work from a lively Hector Bellerin to make it 2-0.

Wenger on Arsenal v Tottenham: We are not the underdogs

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Arsene Wenger doesn’t believe Arsenal are the underdogs heading into Saturday’s North London derby against Tottenham at the Emirates (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: World Cup pots confirmed ]

Despite Spurs finishing above rivals Arsenal in the Premier League table last season, Wenger pointed to that being the first time in 20 years they’d finished below Tottenham in the PL and brushed off talk of a power shift in north London.

Seeming slightly frustrated by the tone of questioning ahead of the game, Wenger doesn’t believe Arsenal are the underdogs.

“No. Not all all. No,” Wenger said. “Tottenham is a good side but we have the quality to win this game and that’s what we want to show. The real motivation for me is to do as well as we have the potential in the team. The target is not to compare to Tottenham.”

So, Arsenal is on the full defensive ahead of this game with goalkeeper Petr Cech also taunting Spurs ahead of the game and pointing towards their lack of trophies won over the pat few years despite their third and second place finishes in the PL.

The truth is, Tottenham have plenty of ground to catch up on Arsenal in terms of trophies, UEFA Champions League success and in terms of the last two decades of finishing below the Gunners. But, why can’t they continue to finish above Arsenal for the foreseeable future? With Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and others far from their peak, plus Mauricio Pochettino committed to the project at Spurs, everything is pointing towards Tottenham finishing above Arsenal for at least the next two seasons.

Maybe that’s what has Wenger and Co. riled up ahead of the massive NLD this weekend. Well, that and every pundit and neutral across the globe currently raving about Spurs young talent, manager, future new stadium and massive potential.

Wenger rips league-wide refereeing after Arsenal loss

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Petr Cech was diplomatic when it came to Manchester City’s third goal, but his manager was far from that adjective.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was left seething with officials after David Silva appeared to be just offside in a darting run past the Gunners back line.

[ RECAP: Man City 3-1 Arsenal ]

The run led to a Gabriel Jesus goal (video above), who had little work to do with four Arsenal players with their hands raised in protest.

“I was surprised,” Cech said. “David Silva looked far behind everybody but the referee has a better view than me. Referees have a difficult job to do. I don’t know if he got it right or wrong but that goal made the difference.”

Arsenal was trailing 2-1 at the time and strong enough to get a point on the day were it to manage an equalizer. That didn’t materialize. From Sky Sports:

“It was an intense game of quality from both sides,” Wenger said. “Overall once again the referee made the decision today. It was a soft penalty and an offside goal but we are used to it when you come here. Last year we had two offsides goals against us.

“The referees don’t work enough and the level drops every season. Overall it’s unacceptable what happens.”

Someone’s getting fined.

Both decisions were certainly debatable, and the penalty would not have been called in another error. The offside call, like many, depends on when you freeze the screen on the through ball to Silva.

Additionally and editorially, if the quality of refereeing is dipping I’ll blame a long-held theory for it: In this day and age, from the lower levels and up, who in the world really wants to sign up for the constant abuse that comes from trying to do an official’s job correctly?

What’s your take on the decisions, and the officials? Let’s chat in the comments.