North London Derby

Four Things from North London Derby

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Thrill-a-minute? Absolutely, but Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal was probably more fun for the neutrals than supporters of the teams on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Full recap ]

Arsenal somehow turned early dominance into a 2-0 deficit, but erased it and then some against a Spurs side which wobbled again in drawing top opposition at home.

Here are three things we took away from the pulsating encounter, which left more questions than answers for both teams.

We’ve now seen both Arsenal and Spurs look clearly second best over 90 minutes against Liverpool and Man City, respectively. It’s still super early, but maybe there are three distinct classes in the race for the Top Six places.

Luiz gonna Luiz, and Xhaka gonna Xhaka

No, that’s not a good thing. Arsenal’s twin time bombs turned a dominant first half into a 2-0 deficit.

David Luiz‘s lackadaisical life as a Gunner continues in the opening 10 minutes at the Emirates, as the ex-Chelsea man nearly gave away a free kick to Harry Kane with a silly challenge that went uncalled.

It was foreshadowing, as Luiz got caught in two minds when following Heung-Min Son. He was shook by a simple run behind him, and then didn’t bother to get in the path of Eriksen’s run to the back post to deposit a rebound for 1-0.

You’ll recall that Luiz got cooked by Mohamed Salah in similar fashion last week. Both matches were close, and both mistakes mattered to the score line.

As for Xhaka, he defies his statistics at every turn. Over 90 minutes, he’s going to be one of your best players (See his terrific vision to set-up of Pepe in the 85th minute). But in at least one moment, he’s going to absolutely short-circuit your goals.

In this case, the Swiss star slid into Son with the ball gone and only minuscule hope of anything positive. No miracle arrived, rather a penalty to Spurs and Harry Kane rarely misses those.

That was 2-0 Spurs despite Arsenal control of the match.

Pepe, Auba, Laca trident verdict = Pretty, pretty good

If Granit Xhaka‘s midfield madness showed the opposite, Arsenal’s first goal showed why every neutral on Earth wants to see Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette on the field at the same time.

Unai Emery handed Arsenal’s best trident its first start, and Pepe’s otherworldly close-range pass allowed Lacazette to burst through the 18 to smash past Hugo Lloris.

Aubameyang would add a goal soon after Lacazette subbed out of the match, and it would be foolhardy to imagine that the hour-plus of dealing with the trident wore on Spurs defenders.

The performance wasn’t picture perfect — they did only score the one goal in 67 minutes together — but you have to think they’ll cook a lot of defenses that hold less quality than Spurs.

Spurs leave a lot to be desired

When you consider that Tottenham was given among the most fortunate 2-0 leads you’ll see, this was a poor result even given the venue. Outshot 26-15 and off-balance often, Spurs ought to give Harry Winks, as well as their center backs and goalkeeper, free dinner.

Yes, they were playing without Tanguy Ndombele. And yes, they deserve full credit for the Christian Eriksen goal, but it came via school boy errors by a half-dozen or so Arsenal players led by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz.

The other goal came from Xhaka’s absurd challenge on Spurs MOTM Son, who was very very good. Late chances were there, but Harry Kane embellished to try and win a late penalty and Dele Alli‘s lone moment as a sub was also a headfirst baseball slide which went unheeded. The calm of Spurs’ last season was simply not there.

Still, Son was quite good, Winks again a wonderful engine — sometimes single-handedly willing the unit forward — and Hugo Lloris mostly up to the task. The defense did stop the bleeding and preserve an away point. There are things to like from the season’s slow start, but Sunday’s performance was entertaining but not encouraging.

How Mauricio Pochettino integrates Giovani Lo Celso and eventually Ryan Sessegnon will go a long way to settling Spurs down.

Emery pushes decent buttons in come back

It’s easy to forget that Unai Emery has turned average ingredients into silverware-winning dishes in his day, so it’s no surprise that Arsenal’s manager was able to adjust his side to get a point at home.

Yes, even against Spurs stingy defense.

It’s clear that Emery thinks the Aubameyang-Lacazette-Pepe trident won’t allow him to include more than one forward-thinking midfielder like Dani Ceballos or Henrikh Mkhitaryan in his midfield (Mkhitaryan was pedestrian if not poor off the bench). That’s presumably why he opted for Lucas Torreira and Xhaka with Guendouzi.

Emery’s men didn’t lose their nerve down 2-0 — a credit to him — and the comeback started before he made his subs, but Ceballos was a big part of the difference. Would playing Ceballos and Guendouzi with Torreira sacrifice too much size and grit in the middle? Probably, and that’s the hard bargain Emery will have to strike on a week-to-week basis: Is he better with his trident together, or with a necessary fourth midfielder?

Arsenal erases 2-goal deficit in thrilling derby

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s late goal helped Arsenal complete a two-goal comeback in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the first North London Derby of the season.

[ MORE: Three Four things we learned ]

Sunday’s match at the Emirates Stadium had a bit of everything: reckless tackles, creative playmaking, tremendous saves, and smashed finishes.

Alexandre Lacazette also scored for Arsenal, whose assists came from Nicolas Pepe and Matteo Guendouzi.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen had Spurs goals, with Tottenham heading into the international break with five points. That’s ninth in the Premier League, two behind fifth place Arsenal.


Three big stats (and three things we learned)

    1. Thirteen — Both goalkeepers were very, very good despite the three goals conceded, and Bernd Leno registered seven saves in defeat. Several of the saves, maybe more than half, were of the show-stopping variety.
    2. Sixty-seven — The amount of minutes Arsenal had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, and Alexandre Lacazette on the bench before the scorer subbed out of the match for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
    3. Ten — Spurs’ star striker is now the all-time leading scorer in NLD history after his first half penalty gave him 10 goals against the Gunners, and he just missed a second with a rocket off the post near the hour mark.

Man of the Match: Leno.


Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac teamed up to give Nicolas Pepe the first chance of the match, the Ivorian curling wide from 18 yards.

Eriksen rewarded Mauricio Pochettino when he raced to the back post to pop a rebound into the gaping frame. Harry Kane won a header at midfield and Heung-Min Son did well to produce the play past a sleepy David Luiz. Erik Lamela hit the shot that wound up on Eriksen’s path via Bernd Leno’s save.

Kolasniac then fell down before he could hit a quality cross in the 13th minutes. Nerves were plenty.

Leno then made an insane save on Son’s 18th minute rip to keep the deficit to one.

Son earned a penalty off an insane challenge by Granit Xhaka in the 38th minute, sending Kane to the spot. That’s almost always meant a goal, and it did again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Hugo Lloris made a pair of fine saves that were overshadowed by Lacazette breaking through the Spurs back line.

He was aided by a sensational bit of creativity from Nicolas Pepe, whose outside of the boot masterpiece allowed Lacazette to blast past Lloris.

Both sides had their chances in a more even second half, and Kane smashed the post in the 59th minute.

Arsenal got its equalizer when Matteo Guendouzi, who put in a spirited shift, sent a swirling cross into the mixer for Aubameyang to redirect past Lloris.

WATCH: Spurs take shock derby lead through Eriksen

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Christian Eriksen has rewarded Mauricio Pochettino for a start one day before the transfer window closes in Europe, smashing a rebound goal to put Tottenham Hotspur ahead early in the North London Derby.

[ STREAM: Arsenal-Spurs LIVE ]

Long-linked with a move away from London, Eriksen has been one of Spurs’ better performers when called upon this season.

He got a rare start on Sunday, and delivered the goods inside of 10 minutes.

Harry Kane won a header, Heung-Min Son cooked David Luiz, and Eriksen did the rest.

Really, David, WYD?

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Spurs in season’s first North London Derby

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Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur look to take their early season frustrations out on each other as the Premier League hosts its first North London Derby of the season at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

In other words, the tone and tenor of two major English clubs is about to reach the international break on very different terms.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Christian Eriksen starts and Jan Vertonghen is back in the XI for Spurs, with both Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, and Danny Rose staying for what will make for a powerful back line.

Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette all start for Arsenal, so we should be in for a beauty.

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Pochettino: Spurs exit rumors are “stupid”

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Reports that Mauricio Pochettino would leave Tottenham Hotspur regardless of how Spurs fared in this weekend’s North London Derby were greatly exaggerated, according to the man himself.

Speaking ahead of Spurs’ visit to Arsenal on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Pochettino lashed out at the rumors as “stupid” and said he’s not going anywhere despite a somewhat tumultuous summer and 1-1-1 start to the PL season.

[ MORE: UEL group stage draw ]

“I am not going to walk away after the north London derby,” he said. “I will be here on Monday and Tuesday.”

But what about Wednesday, Poch (Tongue planted firmly in cheek)?

It seems a bit ridiculous considering there isn’t an open big job in sight, but we’re here to give you the news from around the Premier League.

Wouldn’t want you to miss out just in case we’re wrong.