The Premier League returned after that long international break, considering the fact we had to hold on to the 3-1 loss at the hands of Man City. This time it was a Saturday lunchtime kick-off against two bitter local rivals in London, as Arsenal hosted their neighbour at the Emirates in a cracking North London Derby.
Pride and bragging rights were at stake in this match asides the match points that were up for grabs and before the team sheet was released, I duly hoped for Wenger to name a really strong XI to face the neighbours. Experienced goalie Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette, all made the starting XI – allowing Wenger to unleash the nemesis of AOL.
This was one of the North London Derbies you knew Arsenal were up for and really didn’t look like losing this tie, as a bad result would be considered a draw. The match started brightly with such intensity as both created chances apiece within the first six minutes, with visitors the most threatening but Cech was more than enough to save the effort.
The first real danger of the match came in the 18th minute when Ramsey played a through ball to the strides of Bellerin, playing a square ball to Lacazette but he was covered by Spurs defenders as Kolasinac didn’t react on time for the follow-up.
Spurs were denied a goal by the outer side of the woodwork in the 32nd minute when playmaker Eriksen lined up a shot through the legs of Xhaka – looking like it wasn’t sneaking into the near post of Cech, though he had his angles all covered.
Soon after, Kane had a header deflected but looked like going in the net of Petr Cech but the Czech Republic was on alert and was able to deal with the danger calmly.
A big decision by Mike Dean in the 34th minute to award Arsenal a free kick for a shirt holding on Alexis Sanchez. While most Spuds would argue this, any obstruction while a player is in motion is considered a foul.
Mesut Ozil stepped up to take the free kick and delivered a ball in, finding the head of Mustafi who headed in a nice effort that well-rooted Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris – which gifted Arsenal the first of the two goals in this match.
Five minutes after the first goal, Arsenal came knocking on the Spurs defence and found firepower to put Spurs to the sword. Hector Bellerin spotted a real danger when he played a through ball to Lacazette that split open the Spurs defence, taking the ball to the by-line and squaring it to Alexis, whose first touch almost let him down but made absolute amendment with his second as he sent the ball to the roof of the net; doubling Arsenal’s lead and sent the whole Emirates ablaze with that goal.
Most of the second half was filled with both teams creating opportunities but lacking the final piece to finish their attack. Kane had a shot blocked by Mustafi and Alexis couldn’t pinpoint his final pass to Mesut Ozil who was clear on goal.
Alexis had an effort similar to the angle he scored from but this time, Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris made himself big enough to cover his near post.
If goalkeepers won save of the match, that award would’ve gone to Petr Cech was his save in the 80th minute. A header from Dier, which looked like it was going to reduce the deficit for the visitors was well kept out by Cech and eventually cleared by Koscielny.
A delightful win for the host as everyone now has to play catch up with Manchester City, which is the team to beat right now in the league. The team played as a unit, showing solidarity as they united to play for the fans, with Mesut Ozil picking up the man of the match award for a wonderful performance.