Three things we learned from Tottenham – Arsenal as the north London derby ended in a win for Spurs in an entertaining, feisty encounter.
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Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal ahead in style early on but Heung-min Son equalized soon after in an end-to-end encounter and Toby Alderweireld’s header made it 2-1 late on.
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Here’s a look at what we learned in the north London derby as Tottenham jump into eighth and overtake Arsenal in the table.
1. Defensive deficiencies clear for Tottenham, Arsenal
Serge Aurier made an error for Arsenal’s goal. Sead Kolasinac and David Luiz made a big error for Tottenham’s goal. Kieran Tierney should not be marking Toby Alderweireld at a corner for the winner. And so on and so forth. Tottenham and Arsenal went at it in the first half in particular as the area of weakness for both teams was woefully exposed. Arsenal and Tottenham both need massive rebuilds defensively and that has been the case all season. However, the new coaches for both teams have shown they have improved certain defensive aspects but they can only do so much with the players they have. Mourinho has done a bit more.
New options are needed if Tottenham or Arsenal are going to improve their defense long-term. It really is as simple as that. Until these defensive issues are resolved, these teams will be in the Europa League, at best. A solid foundation counts for a lot and is often overlooked when it comes to the best teams on the planet. Mourinho has made Spurs more solid, but they’ve become more lackluster in attack. It’s a balancing act. Mourinho is a little further along than Arteta as he’s been in the job for a month or so more and it shows, from an organizational perspective. Sure, it’s great to score goals and attack, but to win things and progress, you have to be great and not beating yourselves. Tottenham and Arsenal do that far too often. Arsenal did it a little more. Only West Ham (24) have dropped more points from winning positions in the Premier League this season than Arsenal (21) and that is why Spurs edged this one. They look slightly better, but not great, defensively.
2. Aubameyang, Kane misfire
The star strikers for Arsenal and Tottenham had chances to score but both were uncharacteristically off target. Aubameyang smashed the bar in the second half, whiffed on a good chance in the first half and had another saved by Hugo Lloris, while Kane should have done better with a lob in the first half and hardly had any service in the second half, as he fed off scraps. Aubameyang out on the left wing is interesting as he doesn’t get that many chances but is clinical, while Tottenham’s service to Kane needs to improve as he’s scored just twice in six games since the restart. Both of the star strikers missed their big chances and that was surprising, but their quality is clear for all to see. Tottenham and Arsenal need to get them in the game more.
3. Tottenham, Arsenal put on a show on derby day
Defending was optional, and largely terrible, for the majority of this game as Nicolas Pepe, Aubameyang, Kane, Ben Davies and others went close throughout. These teams realize they are more likely to outscore opponents so they basically said ‘screw it, we want to win 3-2.’ They are in very similar situations in this transitional phase and that led to a largely entertaining clash. Without fans, this was unlike any other north London derby but the intensity was good and the players put on a show. It also showed just how closely matched they are and just how far they have to go to challenge to be in the top four, let alone challenge for trophies. It was sobering entertainment for both sets of fans.