Arsenal Prove A Banana Skin For Spurs’ Ambitions

Online Ed: Gunners win an eventful North London derby

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Aubameyang's sumptuous equalizer starts the comeback

Where to begin? Well, let’s start with the formation. Unai Emery stuck with the three at the back, fielding the same starting eleven that we saw last weekend at Bournemouth. Rob Holding and Henrik Mkhitaryan, who both travelled to the match in Ukraine last Thursday, maintained their places. I wonder if Mesut Ozil’s back spasm was the reason that the Armenian started yesterday. Then again, I wonder about Mesut Ozil’s back spasm per se. It’s really difficult to judge how genuine some of the German’s injuries are given the stories about him phoning in sick on the morning of a plane trip to a hostile away match during the Wenger years. We wait to see how this one pans out, but there is a belief that Ozil is not giving the level of exertion Emery’s style demands. (This has been posted online in a closed facebook group that I am not party to, and may or may not be true, but for what it’s worth… “I park in the Emirates car park in Orange 2 right next to the players in Orange 1. Ozil’s merc jeep was there when I pulled up. After a while I was talking to the head steward & Ozil came down muttering in German got in his jeep and drove out. I think Unai told him he was on the bench so he spat his dummy out. Muscle spasm my arse. Get rid in Jan and keep Rambo”)

Let’s jump ahead in this game and look at the contrast between Ozil and Aaron Ramsey. Here is a player who might feel he has every right to sulk, but the Welshman, assuming he does depart next summer, will do so with the respect of Arsenal fans for his efforts this season. He was taken out with the rest of the stiffs to play Vorskla in below freezing temperatures, but has remained professional and certainly made a huge contribution yesterday, even whilst warming up in the first half when he got involved in the fracas that followed Spurs’ equalizing goal. It was an incident that galvanized the spirit of the side, even if, in the short term, things worsened.

Arsenal certainly started the match with greater intent and should have been more than one up for the dominance they enjoyed early on. A penalty for handball was dispatched by Aubameyang, who unwisely decided to run to the corner in front of the away fans. A banana skin was thrown in his direction, and Hector Bellerin certainly got involved in some verbals with the Spurs supporters. Credit to Aubameyang for his two goals in this match, but the number of times he was caught offside is something that he will need to work on. Arsenal failed to double their lead in spite of the opportunities they created, and by half-time, in spite of having half the number of goal attempts, the visitors were ahead.

The first goal has to go down as an error by Bernd Leno. Erikson’s free kick got a glancing header from Dier, but it was easily savable by a keeper of Leno’s quality. Possibly in response to their unhappiness at Arsenal’s earlier celebrations, Dier went over towards the home fans with a ‘shhhh’ gesture, and a fracas resulted in which the Arsenal players warming up (Ramsey and Guendouzi) got involved as well as pretty much everyone else about five seconds later. To be fair, I didn’t see enough of it either at the stadium or on TV later to know exactly what happened, but I’ll tell you this, it added spice to a derby that, in truth, has been on the wane in terms of real intensity for a while now.

Spurs took the lead before half time thanks for a dive in the penalty area by Son that Mike Dean bought. Do they still dish out bans retrospectively for diving? Certainly there was no contact to produce Son’s loss of footing. Not that it bothered Harry Kane who put the resultant spot kick away. All’s fair in love, war and North London derbies.

We’ve become accustomed to Arsenal not being ahead in Premier League matches at half-time under Unai Emery, so although the mood at half-time was hardly joyful, there was still hope. Mkhitaryan and Iwobi had not played that well in the first 45 minutes, so the head coach rang the changes by replacing them with Lacazette and Ramsey. The changes worked, with Ramsey setting up a fantastically finished equalizer by Aubameyang, thanks for an excellent through ball from Bellerin. Emery then decided to go for the win, by introducing Guendouzi for Mustafi and switching to a back four.

It worked, as Arsenal dominated again, with two quick goals from Lacazette and Torreira. Cue pandemonium amongst the home support. There seems little doubt the extent of the backing produced by the home fans played its part in this win. Everyone was up for it, and it made for a refreshing change from the usual complacent atmosphere at home games. This was helped in no small part by the sheer passion demonstrated on the touchline by Unai Emery, who was rarely contained within his technical area in spite of the attempts of the fourth official. The man was coaching for the entirety of the game and must have felt as exhausted as the players by the end of it.

The two goal cushion certainly eased the nerves and the dismissal of Vertongen put the icing on the cake and effectively ended any hopes of a repeat of the disastrous 4-4 draw back in the autumn of 2008 which, coming off the back of the collapse in the league the previous season, marked for many the moment that Arsenal really started declining. There have, of course, been some memorable derby victories since then, but in recent years, it is Spurs that have been perceived as the club making forward strides and enjoying upward momentum. Now, under a fresh regime, there is a feeling that the Gunners are doing the same. 19 matches in all competitions unbeaten is an impressive feat, however it has been achieved, and Emery has recorded his first victory over one of the club’s top six rivals after two defeats and a draw.

Significantly, this match seemed to matter to the players. There was an awareness of how much it mattered, partly I suspect transmitted from the crowd. There were far less empty spaces than normal. One slight disappointment, given the match finished before 4pm, was the number who customarily departed early to beat the rush. Would they have attended the game had it kicked off at 4pm? If yes, then put up with a bit of a queue at the tube station or the bar to applaud the players at the end of a marvelous performance. At least there were far more in the stands than normal at full time, and those that were there did remain to express their thanks. The players would have noticed that.

It was a feelgood afternoon both on and off the pitch. After years of the intensity fading as things went stale, it feels again that Arsenal matters, and with players like Lucas Torreira in the team, the old spirit is returning. As I type, I’ve just received an email from Adrian Wagenaar which says, Torreira dumping Ali on the ground in the opening exchanges set the whole tone of the game – oh and how the Emirates rocked in those last 20 minutes. It’s all I ever wanted from Arsenal - bravery and effort, with no cowards in the team. Emery is ahead of schedule with the re–making of Arsenal.”

Let’s hope for more of the same at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.


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  1. mbg

    Dec 4, 2018, 21:04 #112636

    markymark, good post TOF might be yesterdays man now or more appropriate 2010's man, and like yourself i still can't help with comparisons and that's the way it's going to be for another while, yes imagine if his fans would have got what they wanted and he'd still been in charge on Sunday and indeed other games, all you mention would have occured, it doesn't bare thinking about. Surely all those wenger luvvies and lovers can now see.

  2. markymark

    Dec 4, 2018, 20:13 #112634

    Last season under Wenger we know what would have happened. Same good start, then the twist of fortune, kamikaze end to the match resulting in a third goal for Spurs. Wenger on TV protesting about the penalty , how unfair it was. The press scratching their heads how yet again Arsenal had lost whilst starting the game so well. Untold and the remains Wenger boys indulging in referee conspiracy theories. Thank God we’ve finally moved on! And how we have moved on!

  3. Cheltenham Gunner

    Dec 4, 2018, 05:38 #112629

    Wow, forgotten what it was like to see such a passionate performance from the team. Well done to the team and manager. Loved the handbags on the touchline and as many have said Torreira what a player. Hope the team can put in a similiar performance tomorrow..

  4. GeorgeBung

    Dec 3, 2018, 23:52 #112628

    Fantastic game,great atmosphere,great intensity and spot on tactics. Loving Lucas Torreira. Can't wait till the next home game.

  5. mbg

    Dec 3, 2018, 22:13 #112627

    I think Ramsey coming on brought some experience of a NLD to our side and settled things again. Your right about him if he does leave and it's certainly looking like it he can leave with his head held high and he will still have the respect of the fans unlike that £350k a week coward and waster Ozil.


    Dec 3, 2018, 19:24 #112626

    Fantastic match & atmosphere. And to think that Dick was seen as a safe, unexciting appointment by some! A section of Gooners have likened him to a Spanish Dracula (with a pointy nose) - certainly some of his followers, Sokratis & Kolasinac, are masters of the dark arts & are genuinely scary guys. Both had excellent games. Touchline punch-ups are now back as well - marvellous. A new take on the "Ozil back injury" mystery. It is reported that he spends so many hours "gaming" that his posture is suffering as a result - pity he doesn't show as much dedication to his football job. It looks as if Dick has sussed him anyway.

  7. markymark

    Dec 3, 2018, 18:33 #112625

    A lot on the Spud fanboy sites are saying “Don’t worry it’s just 3 points “ and “We’ll still finish above them” In a way they are right unless we do a job at UTD. Secure 3 points their and we crush UTD’s faltering hopes of top 4 and send morale plunging at the Spuds. The UTD game is now massive . Bag 6 points across those two games and I’d go so far as to say he’s operating a season ahead of schedule. But not to take away from yesterday’s performance . It was the the new post Arsenal but so much resonated with Peak Graham and tbf peak Wenger of pre 2005

  8. mbg

    Dec 3, 2018, 18:04 #112624

    John F, good post I thourghly enjoyed that too Dier getting his comeuppance, seeing the look on his face as the ball went in for a goal, priceless.

  9. mbg

    Dec 3, 2018, 17:51 #112623

    Where to begin indeed, what a match, pure commitment throughout, as Neil Ashton says in the Sun today it was the same old Arsenal from the old days powerful, physical, aggressive, and the commadrie among the players was fantastic and great to see, and also the fans too all together as one, and not forgetting the man himself Unai Emery, the decisions along with the commitment he showed on the touchline, there can be no doubt/doubts about him now. Come on you gooners.

  10. 1971 Gooner

    Dec 3, 2018, 17:37 #112622

    Absolutely the most enjoyable performance at the Emirates for a long, long time. It’s all pretty much been said, but a shout out to Kolasinac; none of the Spurs players particularly enjoyed engaging with our Bosnian Bulldozers when things got tasty. So enjoyed that, and Unai now truly owns that Arsenal team. Another win, or even a draw against Man U. away would really be a statement from him. Advice for Özil - don’t mess with a Basque.

  11. 1971 Gooner

    Dec 3, 2018, 17:37 #112621

    Absolutely the most enjoyable performance at the Emirates for a long, long time. It’s all pretty much been said, but a shout out to Kolasinac; none of the Spurs players particularly enjoyed engaging with our Bosnian Bulldozers when things got tasty. So enjoyed that, and Unai now truly owns that Arsenal team. Another win, or even a draw against Man U. away would really be a statement from him. Advice for Özil - don’t mess with a Basque.

  12. mbg

    Dec 3, 2018, 17:28 #112620

    Disgusting inbreds with their banana skin throwing.

  13. Gaz

    Dec 3, 2018, 15:50 #112619

    What a performance yesterday! Absolutely superb! Best game I've been to at the Emirates EVER with an atmosphere to be might proud of! We were loud, we were raucous, and the ground was literally shaking when we scored those second half goals! Add the flares and I reckon that was the most hostile atmosphere ever witnessed at the ground. Everyone performed brilliantly but for me one player stood out, Step forward the mighty Lucas Torreira! What a player! Leads by example and must make those around him want to fight that little bit more. There was a moment in the corner up against Ali and Erikson where he was battling for the ball and just would not be beaten. My favourite player and undoubtedly the signing of the summer. And well played Unai Emery too! Makes big calls, isn't afraid to change things and has totally rejuvenated the Club and my support of it.

  14. The Man From UNCLE

    Dec 3, 2018, 13:43 #112618

    As others on here say, this is what we want. A committed Arsenal who don't spit out the dummy when the going gets hard. Let's keep it going cos OT ain't gonna be easy, no matter what's going up there right now.

  15. GoonerRon

    Dec 3, 2018, 13:18 #112617

    I am still buzzing. Thinking about that second 45 minutes and coming back to win - that must be right up there as the most crucial half of league football for years and years. Not just the three points, not just going ahead of that lot, not just being right in the mix for CL, not just for keeping the unbeaten run going but also in the type of performance we produced - with heart, fight, intensity and quality - that continues the galvanisation of the club with its players, to its manager, to its supporters and even to the stadium itself. It just feels a bit more than ‘just’ a NLD win.

  16. Bard

    Dec 3, 2018, 13:02 #112616

    Thats the kind of performance I have been waiting for. Fantastic shift put in by the players. What a contrast to the dross we have had to stomach in recent years. All this without the show pony. I suspect his days are numbered unless he gets with the programme. Back spasm my a***. More like he threw his toys out of the pram. I read a comment from a former player under Dick who said he makes you or breaks you. Over to you Mesut. Bring on Manure.

  17. TonyEvans

    Dec 3, 2018, 12:40 #112615

    I may not be the supporter I once was but boy I enjoyed that! Are you watching AW - that's the sort of performance we have been craving for.

  18. GoonGer

    Dec 3, 2018, 12:32 #112614

    A masterclass from Unai Emery. Outstanding, we’ve got our Arsenal back

  19. GoonGer

    Dec 3, 2018, 12:32 #112613

    A masterclass from Unai Emery. Outstanding, we’ve got our Arsenal back

  20. shu

    Dec 3, 2018, 12:27 #112612

    Yes spot on bravery and effort and no cowards . For too long we were soft centred and lily livered For this season I just want to see improvement for the past 10 years it has being going the other way .

  21. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 3, 2018, 12:26 #112611

    A proper derby day performance and watching Torreira performance makes us all realize what has been missing from Arsenal for oh so many years. He was like a "pocket Vieira" - so important for the team's development in the coming years. There were still defensive mistakes so no one is getting carried away and Wednesday is going to test how quickly we can recover from yesterday's efforts. Next trick is to find a club that will take Ozil, on loan, for the next three years!!

  22. John F

    Dec 3, 2018, 12:11 #112610

    I have often thought of various ways of improving the atmosphere at the bowl when as Emery is showing the answer was simple.If the players show the passion and commitment like they did yesterday then the crowd responds.Loved the crunching tackles,the passion shown in the handbag fight,the tank showing why he is called the tank and most of all seeing Dier playing the hard man only to turn his back on Laca s shot to deflect it into the goal(karma).Loved Emery urging the team back after we equalised not just settling for the draw.Torreira reading of the game was superb.

  23. RobG

    Dec 3, 2018, 11:48 #112608

    I was only watching on Sky but I really enjoyed that. When the fourth went in I jumped up in the air in a manner not achieved for many a year. If we could play like that on Wednesday, we will turn Utd over at OT, which would be just as pleasing.

  24. gooner.ed

    Dec 3, 2018, 11:11 #112607

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