Arsenal swatted Tottenham aside in one of the best North London derby days of the last 5 years. We didn’t have to bet on Spurs dropping their level. We didn’t win on luck. We outfought one of the best teams in the league and dished out a deserved destruction.
The game had everything you could have hoped for. The atmosphere in the ground was venomous, the players were hyper-charged, and some of the goals were sublime.
Things were looking pretty good early on in the game, Arsenal were in control for the most part. We even managed to pick up an early goal. Vertonghen swiped the ball from Mustafi’s head from a corner, Mike Dean of all people was paying attention and the penalty was granted. Auba stepped up, looked immensely nervy, but sent Lloris the wrong way after one of those awful slow run-ups.
The good vibes didn’t last all the way until half-time. Arsenal would be 18th in the league if there weren’t a second 45minutes. We made sure that poor record carried through with a bit of help from Son’s dark arts. The first of their two goals came from a dubious foul on the edge of our box. The Eriksen freekick at the front post caught the slightest of glances from Dier, he was helped along by some poor keeping, Leno failing to get his body behind the ball, palming it into the net.
The impending OTT celebrations caused a massive ruckus on the touchline. Aaron Ramsey, Guendouzi and Lacazette all involved in some serious handbags, notable was Eric Dier telling Aaron to sit down.
Things went from bad to worse 4 minutes later. Arsenal allowed Son in on the back post, Hector and Holding were jockeying the South Korean, but Holding slid in and grazed a standing foot. Son collapsed in a heap, there was no doubt Mike Dean would blow up. Super harsh in my opinion. Should contact not be meaningful? I find the ‘if there’s contact, he has every right to go down’ mantra so tired these days. You go down if the contact is heavy, otherwise it’s cheating. I hope VAR stops this nonsense. Anyway, Harry Kane sent Leno the wrong way and we were 2 down heading into halftime.
The manager made some ruthless decisions. He took off Iwobi and Mikhi, who by their standards were not having particularly bad games. Lacazette and Ramsey came onto the pitch, Emery obviously admired the touchline aggression his bench was offering up.
The decision paid dividends. Bellerin played a beautiful ball into Ramsey who cut back to Auba on the edge of the box, the man from Gabon delicately curled a first-time strike into the bottom corner. A second assist followed, Ramsey counter-pressed Foyth, released Lacazette who cut the ball back on the edge of the box, set himself, then placed a shot expertly off Dier’s shin past Lloris. BEAUTIFUL.
The final goal was my favourite of the day. Aubamayeng slipped a perfect pass between 3 Spurs players, Torriera kept himself onside, bore down on goal and instead of squaring the pass, he unleashed fury across Lloris into the bottom corner. An absolute pearler. What a goal.
The game got better for Arsenal. Vertonghen was sent off for a sloppy challenge on Lacazette.
Arsenal took the spoils. North London is red again. What power shift?
That was the big one for me. That was how you measure your success. We lost to City and Chelsea earlier on in the season, but you could forgive because the games were literally our first. Yesterday, we played a team that destroyed Chelsea last week and beat a solid Inter Milan side midweek. That was an immense victory and no one can take that away from Emery.
We had everything we’ve been crying out for packaged neatly into a 90minutes that’ll stick hard in the throats of anyone who uttered ‘careful what you wish for’ over the past ten years.
Mesut Ozil didn’t make it into the squad. Rumour has it the German wimped out with back spasms when he heard he wasn’t starting. Not like we haven’t been here before, is it? Remember Wenger’s last game at home? Emery has sussed Ozil inside three months. There’s no fucks given for your Twitter following or commercial star at Arsenal. It’s all about what you give. Big question is what do you do with the biggest white whale in the Premier League? I think Emery’s press conference tells you a lot about the rumours.
That decisive thinking carried through into the game. Mikhi and Iwobi were having pretty ok games. Some sloppiness in the final delivery and finishing, but not terrible. Emery yanked both of them off and put on the bad boys from the touchline scuffle. A masterstroke. We’ve been dining out on the ‘it’s 70mins, maybe we’ll make a sub’ line for 20 years. Great to see someone manage the game and the tactics on the fly.
If a fan says they hate transfer windows or paaaashun, it tells you a lot. But there was a lot of that over the past ten years as people tried to make sense of the cold blue lips of our squad and manager. Not anymore, Emery’s face is all of us. That guy feels every strike of the ball, every missed shot, every goal. I love him on the touchline. It’s sunk into the players. Everyone is fighting. It’s like a brawl out on the pitch. We will not be bullied. We are a team of fighters, and if I’m honest, we were shithousing today… and I fucking loved it.
The Arch Bishop of Shithousery is certainly Sokratis. He’s a real piece of work. An absolute man-beast on the pitch. Getting in people’s heads, gouging at their shirts, niggling all game long. He fucking LOVED yesterday. I love him. But they’re all at it, even Aaron Ramsey was giving it on the sidelines.
Also, look at those celebrations. That’s team togetherness. That’s love for what you do and a belief in what is going on at the club. Beautiful to watch. I’m falling back in love with the club again.
Gotta give it to the man, who wouldn’t package Ozil’s contract up in a bow and hand deliver it to the Welshman on your knees? He put in a fantastic 45minutes. He was electric. A total professional. He understood the gravity of the game and put all his feelings to the side. An unreal display given the circumstances.
Xhaka was excellent the whole game. I loved his smirking when he’d caused a melee. Torreira embodies everything I admire in the new setup, what a signing. Auba proved he’s more than just an outrageous scoring record with a cracking display. Kolasinac continues to look fantastic. Hector Bellerin was a beast out on the right, so much good stuff game from the floppy-haired boy wonder. Leno made a couple of outrageous redeeming saves. Mustafi and Holding kept Spurs quiet. They all done good people. All of them.
You know what heals divides? Winning. A project to believe in. Knowing your club is doing everything in its power to succeed. We have that now. Everyone can rally round the new regime. It’s wonderful to see.
The only thing that could top this is burying United on Wednesday. Ending Mourinho would bring tears to my eyes. It’d be a thing of beauty.
Let’s pray it happens!
Onwards and upwards! x