Arsenal secured an overdue win over Tottenham on Saturday afternoon.
We hadn’t beaten Tottenham in the league in six games. You had to go back to 2014 to find the last time we beat them at home in the league.
Going into the game, there was a feeling that Spurs were about to confirm that there had, indeed, been a power shift. Few people gave Arsenal a chance against a confident Spurs team; the team Arsenal had fallen so behind and had little hope of catching.
With the beautiful timing only football can produce, a few narratives were smashed as Arsenal won 2-0 thanks to goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez.
As always, here are five things we learned from the game.
Arsenal bring out the big game performance
We all know Arsenal can do it. This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time, that the team takes people by surprise by producing a hard working and disciplined display. When they want to and, more tellingly, when they need to, they will turn up for a big game.
This wasn’t a pretty win, and you’ll see better football played by both sides. However, few things are more beautiful than seeing Arsenal carry out a plan and get the better of a team that were supposed to be superior to us. As always, the issue is consistency. Seeing this performance two or three times a season isn’t enough.
Arsenal bully Tottenham
One of the reasons why Arsenal have been unable to get the better of Spurs in recent seasons was a lack of power. Spurs would often get the upper hand by being physical, often outrunning and outfighting the Arsenal players. On Saturday, it was the other way around. Arsenal were the ones pressing, winning the 50-50s and getting to the second ball first. With and without the ball, Arsenal worked tremendously hard and forced Spurs back. They refused to be beaten in anything.
Booing Lacazette sub was unnecessary
A blight on an excellent afternoon was the reaction to Arsene Wenger taking off Alexandre Lacazette. For the 11th time, Lacazette failed to complete 90 minutes in a football match for Arsenal. The change, this time, had some sense behind it. Arsenal were playing mostly in their own half and coming under pressure. Coquelin was brought on to shore things up and help protect the 2-0 lead Arsenal had worked very hard for. Fans may have wanted Lacazette to stay on and score, but some perspective wouldn’t have gone amiss. Arsenal were two goals up, not two goals down.
Ozil and Alexis still care
There’s a love-hate relationship between the fans and those two at the moment. Knowing that they’re likely to leave at the end of the season magnifies every bad performance to unhealthy levels. The two haven’t been at their best, and have faced accusations of being too apathetic to the cause. On Saturday, though, they left everything on the pitch. Their work rate was excellent for two players who were meant to be going through the motions. Perhaps suggesting they don’t care anymore is a little unfair.
No matter what, beating Spurs will feel sweet
Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. Spurs may very well get the last laugh, win the war despite losing the battle, and so on. Nonetheless, having endured the Tottenham love-in going on in the media, this win felt incredibly sweet. It was a timely reminder that the gap between the sides isn’t that big, and that the best Spurs side ever hasn’t left this current Arsenal in its dust quite yet.