Three things we learned from Arsenal vs. Tottenham

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LONDON — Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 in the north London derby at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Arsenal, Spurs share the spoils ]

Harry Kane‘s first half strike was canceled out by Kieran Gibbs‘ late leveler, as two Londoners were on the scoresheet, and the honors were even in an end-to-end derby between two bitter rivals.

Here’s three things we learned from an enthralling derby at the Emirates.

COOL KANE RED-HOT

Time seemed to stand still as Danny Rose‘s clipped ball over the top skipped off the perfect surface at the Emirates and Kane had nobody around him. Spurs’ main man was through on goal. The lad from north London had a glorious chance to put his team ahead and, unlike earlier this season when his confidence in front of goal evaded him, he took it with aplomb. With Per Mertesacker dropping off and Laurent Koscielny stepping up, Arsenal’s defense was at sixes and sevens and Kane took advantage of it. The England international, 22, has now scored five goals in his last three Premier League games which comes after a run of just one in his opening nine games of the campaign. Slowly but surely the PFA Young Player of the Year who scored 31 times last season in all competitions has reemerged. Kane’s confidence is sky-high.

We know that Spurs are solid at the back and Mauricio Pochettino has built a side capable of pressing high, not allowing other teams to dictate the tempo. That will keep them in most games this season and Kane’s goals will win them plenty. With Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela buzzing in around Kane, Spurs’ solid defensive unit has plenty of targets to hit when they get on the ball. As for Kane, he’s back to his best and hitting the target and scoring goals. Arsenal’s late show denied him being the hero in a north London derby for a second-straight season.

SPURS PERSONAL DUELS

Spurs’ came so close to winning the north London derby not solely because of Kane’s cool finish but because they won personal duels all over the pitch. In midfield the trio of Mousa Dembele (who was magnificent), Dele Alli and Eric Dier dominated Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin with the former being subbed out at half time by Arsene Wenger, such was his subdued first half. In central defense the Belgian duo of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen marshaled Olivier Giroud in open play, even though the Frenchman hit the bar and came inches away from scoring with another header from set pieces in the second half. That’s an area they must work on. In the first half a flash-point arrived as Giroud first fell to the ground when tussling with Vertonghen and the French striker got to his feet before flailing an arm which caught Vertonghen in the face, who also hit the floor. Spurs’ high energy antagonized Arsenal all game long and until Gibbs’ late equalizer, Spurs could have easily extended their  lead with Kane, Eriksen and Alderweireld all being denied by Petr Cech and Arsenal’s defenders who threw themselves at everything. Pochettino has got his team well-organized and they look dangerous in the final third. Only five points off the top, Spurs can perhaps dream of more than a top four finish this season.

ARSENAL RALLY DESPITE SHAKY DEFENSE

Substitute Gibbs grabbed Arsenal a point — just 181 seconds after replacing the hard-working but ineffective Joel Campbell — and in truth, it was probably what they deserved after a second half where they dug deep and peppered the Spurs box with high-crosses and teasing passes. After a week which has seen them first beat Swansea City away and then take a midweek pasting at Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, it was an admirable fightback after a subdued first half performance. Throughout the game there were numerous defensive mistakes from the Gunners. We’ve already highlighted Koscielny and Mertesacker’s miscommunication for Kane’s goal and in recent games the Gunners center backs have suffered from stepping up and leaving a forward in acres of space (see: Gabriel pushing up to let in Lewandowski).

Then in the 57th minute a monumental mistake from Cech almost let Lamela and Spurs in to make it 2-0. Arsenal’s goalkeeper, who saved superbly from Eriksen and Alderweireld in the second half, tried to dribbled out of the back after a miscommunication with his defenders. If Arsenal are genuine title contenders, and their overall play and grit to rally late on against a top six team proves they are, they have to cut out silly defensive mistakes which will cost them dear in the long run. As it is, Mesut Ozil’s sublime cross to the back post picked out Gibbs and the Gunners sit joint-top in the PL after almost a third of the season gone.

Wolves on VAR review of golazo: “I was hoping to stay happy”

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Nuno Espirito Santo issued the definitive quote of the VAR era after Wolves’ equalizer withstood video review in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Monday at the Molineux.

“I was hoping to stay happy.”

[ RECAP: Wolves 1-1 Man Utd ]

Espirito Santo saw VAR dramatically play a role in Wolves fortunes for the second-straight week, and the manager was not too happy with it on opening weekend when Willy Boly‘s handball was found to have assisted Leander Dendoncker‘s goal.

This time, VAR held up its end of the bargain in Wolves favor, as the cross that led to Ruben Neves’ incredible goal was found to be onside. From the BBC:

“I don’t know how they will solve it – it’s the emotion, you celebrate a goal so much and then you stay in silence. Don’t take that away from the people.”

The problem, of course, is money. So much is riding on qualifying for Europe, staying in the Premier League, etc. When sports became a big business, and managers aren’t complaining about their salaries, the science overtook the spirit.

Espirito Santo is correct that the wait to confirm a goal takes away from the joy of sport. It also will deny of us of the next “Hand of God” (and England would not have won its lone World Cup had goal line technology been around).

But ultimately, it will keep the correct score on the board. And that matters.

Pogba misses 2nd half penalty in Man Utd-Wolves draw

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Ruben Neves scored an amazing goal and Rui Patricio stopped a Paul Pogba penalty as Wolves took a point from Manchester United in a 1-1 match at the Molineux on Monday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

United had two-thirds possession but could not find what would’ve been a deserved winner as Wolves flummoxed the Red Devils attack.

Anthony Martial scored for the second-straight match for United, who failed in a bid to go atop the Premier League.


Three things we learned

  1. Paul Pogba is to penalties as Shaquille O’Neal is to free throws – You just can’t understand how someone so good at his sport is so poor at what should be the easiest part of his game.
  2. Martial is a beauty, and is fully released from the shackles of Jose Mourinho. Whether he can take the next step is another story, but the Frenchman is a fitting winger for a Champions League club (even if United isn’t quite in the UCL).
  3. Patricio didn’t show the Premier League his very best last season, but has looked more like the Portugal national team goalkeeper so far in his sophomore PL campaign.

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men were content to let the visitors have the ball and work on the counter, and United quickly moved the ball in possession over the first stages of the game.

United took a deserved lead through Martial who ran onto a Marcus Rashford through ball and belted a rocket over a flailing Rui Patricio.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Neves brought Wolves level with a sublime bit of shooting, curling a majestic shot above and around the United back line to make it 1-1.

Watching the footage as it was being reviewed showed the margins so thin, but the goal held up and anyone hoping for some semblance of sanity was relieved.

United looked set to go back in front when Pogba drew a penalty off Conor Coady with a cutthroat move in the 18, but the Frenchman slammed his effort into the path of a diving Patricio.

WATCH: Ruben Neves spins an otherworldly ball over David De Gea

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Let us introduce you to your latest Goal of the Season contender.

Ruben Neves, who seemingly only scores beauties, struck again on Monday at the Molineux.

[ MORE: Neymar to Barca ]

The 22-year-old Portuguese playmaker loves to shoot as much as anyone, and set himself up clinically for his latest amazing marker.

Once Neves collected the ball atop the 18, he spun this magnificent effort over the flying David De Gea and off the underside of the bar to restore the deadlock in Wolverhampton.

De Gea may well have responded to this goal by quoting Ron Burgundy when Baxter ate the entire wheel of cheese.

Sensational.

AT HALF: Martial, Rashford team up for impressive opener

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Manchester United has a stylish opening goal in its quest to go a perfect 2-for-2 in Premier League play.

After quality passing in traffic ended with Marcus Rashford slipping a through ball in to both Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, the Frenchman bolted a ball into the upper reaches of the net.

[ STREAM: Wolves – Man Utd ]

To be honest, Rui Patricio had little recourse.

The goal is Martial’s second of the season, and United is 45 minutes away from moving atop the league.