Arsenal and Tottenham battled to a 2-2 draw in a fast paced North London derby at the Emirates.
The latest encounter between the two bitter rivals was the same as what we have come to expect in recent times as the Gunners and Spurs seemingly never fail to disappoint in terms of goals and drama. It was Christian Eriksen who drew first blood as he tapped home after Bernd Leno should have pushed Erik Lamela’s effort to safety. Tottenham rallied after that and looked dangerous on the break, eventually winning a penalty due to Xhaka’s rash challenge on Son, leaving the referee with no option but to point to the spot.
Alexandre Lacazette, clawed the Gunners back into the tie on the stroke of half-time and the turnaround was complete with 20 minutes to spare as Aubameyang came to the rescue. Arsenal couldn’t repeat last year’s comeback victory but both teams will be satisfied with a point after a topsy turvy encounter.
Here’s what we learned from a thrilling encounter…
Harry Kane reaches the top
Tottenham’s home grown hero came into the latest North London derby with an impressive record of nine goals in nine Premier League games against their fiercest rivals. His precise penalty after Xhaka clumsily brought down Son in the area made it 10 in 10.
The Spurs captain joined Bobby Smith and Emmanuel Adebayor as the fixtures joint top scorers and at only 26 there is surely plenty more to come. Kane is now making a mockery of the jibe that he hates August, finally breaking his duck in the opening month of the campaign last season and adding three more goals to his tally at the start of 2019/20.
The England forward has long been Tottenham’s focal point, and even as he struggled to establish himself in the game today, like all world-class strikers, he made an impact when given the chance. Teams need to be wary of giving fouls away in their own 18 yard box against Spurs as VAR means they are likely to be punished and Kane will capitalise from spot, that was his fifth penalty against Arsenal.
Eriksen staying put?
Before the fixture Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino stated when talking about Christian Eriksen’s future, “The good thing is that if tomorrow (Sunday) nothing happens, it’s because it’s not going to happen on Monday.” The Argentinean continued, “On Sunday, it’s the game, and after there’s no real time to do something.” The fact that the Danish talisman started at the Emirates could be the clearest indicator yet that he will stay put for at least another season.
Many Spurs fans fear he could do what Aaron Ramsey did at Arsenal and run the last year of his contract down before moving on a free transfer to a club of his choice. Eriksen had never scored in this fixture before but bagged his 50th Premier League goal in the easiest of ways after Bernd Leno could only push Erik Lamela’s tame effort into the attacking midfielder’s path.
Tottenham supporters will hope that one of their prized assets puts pen to paper in the coming months and commits his long term future to the club as he reminded everyone of his importance to the sid today.
Momentum in North London changing?
The talk before the tie was of a changing in momentum to be called the kings of North London. Spurs have reigned supreme for three years now, consistently finishing above their rivals in red, however, last week’s shock loss at home to Newcastle and Arsenals strong transfer window, boosted by their early-season promise meant many were believing the pendulum had swung back Arsenals way.
Tottenham had won just one of their last 26 games away at Highbury or the Emirates before today’s latest instalment and Arsenal’s spirited come back extended that run to 27 games, including 15 losses and 11 draws. Both had a strong transfer window with Tottenham breaking their record for a player by bringing in Tanguy Ndombele and Arsenal adding the much sought after Nicolas Pepe from Lille, adding more firepower to their already impressive forward line.
It was the Europa League finalists entertaining the Champions League runners up today but it was hard to tell which was which at times. Over the course of a season it would perhaps still be foolish to back the Gunners to leap ahead of their rivals but the gap is certainly narrower.
Spurs have started the new campaign sluggishly, labouring to a victory over Aston Villa, losing to relegation favourites Newcastle and scraping a draw away at City before today’s performance. Arsenal have been far from perfect but they seem to be on an upwards trajectory, which is more than what can be said of Pochettino’s men.
Arsenal are a team of contrasts
The contrast between Arsenal’s front three and back four is as wide as you can find in the beautiful game of football. Arguably only Liverpool possess a more potent attack in the Premier League with Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe scaring any defence they come across with their pace, skill and goal-scoring prowess.
It was joint golden boot winner Aubameyang that got the vital equaliser, stabbing in a great ball from Matteo Guendouzi after his teammate Lacazette had departed due to a slight injury. The Frenchman only left the field however, after he has stamped his mark on the game, rounding off a great performance with a powerful finish into Lloris’ net, leaving his compatriot no chance.
With Pepe also showing promise but just failing to find the finish, Arsenal certainly look a top-class team in the final third, it is just a shame that the same cannot be said of their colleagues at the opposite end of the pitch. David Luiz was at fault for both of Mo Salah’s goal last week and his centre-half partner Sokratis significantly contributed to Tottenham’s first today, rashly coming out to compete with Harry Kane for a header, (a duel he lost) leaving his position wide open for the Spurs players to exploit. The Greeks mistake was compounded by his goalkeeper as Leno should have done much better with the initial strike from Lamela but instead ensured the Tottenham number 23 couldn’t miss.
The only consolation for Arsenal is that neither of their first choice full-backs are available for selection at the moment, the Gunners fans will be hoping that Kieran Tierney especially can help plug some holes in their extremely leaky ship.
North London rivals well placed set top four finish
It has not been since the 2015/16 season when Leicester shocked the world that both Arsenal and Tottenham have finished in the top four and secured Champions League football. The Gunners famously piped their North London rivals to second place that year after Spurs’ title challenge collapsed, but it is the Tottenham fans that have had the bragging rights ever since.
Arsenal have struggled ever since, failing to finish higher that fifth for the last 3 seasons whilst Spurs have seemingly gone from strength to strength, ultimately resulting in last year’s Champions League final appearance. The Gunners have made strides under Unai Emery though and appear to be in their strongest position since that second place finish in 2015/16, nevertheless, they still have serious defensive frailties to address before they can be guaranteed a place back on Europe’s main stage.
Tottenham also are not guaranteed a place in the top four as it’s not just away in the North London derby where Spurs have laboured, letting their two goal lead slip means they now slump to six games without a win when on the road to their fellow ‘big six’ rivals.
That run is part of a larger problem as Tottenham have only won three of their 27 games away against top six rivals since Pochettino succeeded Tim Sherwood in 2014. Chelsea and Manchester United’s current form could be North London’s saving grace, however, as Arsenal’s attack and Tottenham’s know-how should see them across the line and into the elite competition if present performances are anything to go by.