Two points dropped. Right?
The story was a familiar one. A Granit Xhaka mistake costing us a needless goal. Two if you’re being very harsh.
The first came when he and Sokratis made a total mess of a clearance inside 11 minutes. The whole team folded allowing Lamela to fizz a shot across Leno, he parried it into the path of Eriksen, and we went one down.
The second mistake was an inexplicable lunge in the penalty box. Careless, unprofessional, but oh so very Granit Xhaka. Kane buried the penalty like a robot was a two-step special.
I don’t even want to get into the needless fouling towards the end when we were trying to chase the game. He wasn’t even playing players and he was slowing down the play.
It’s all so avoidable. Just don’t pick him. Emery has watched him make mistake after mistake for an entire year… he knows that he can’t stand up to pressure… he knows that he does dim things very consistently… so what does he do? He picks him against Spurs and gives him the captains armband in some sort of weird masochistic show of authority.
The midfield he chose was quite odd. Basically 3 deep-lying midfielders. Very little creativity. It didn’t really give us much solidity, as we were all over the place in the first half, and it gave us real trouble transitioning the ball forward. Lacazette was constantly dropping deep to collect the ball, sometimes from our own penalty box.
Thankfully, the Frenchman came through to save our half. Pepe sliced a ball into his path, he took two very good touches and forced the ball past Lloris from close range. That goal gave us a much-needed boost heading into the second half.
We came out a much more forceful side. The halftime team talk must have focused on urgency, pressure and more adventure moving forward. The game suddenly clicked into a proper North London derby, there was next to no structure, the ball was travelling end to end at a ferocious pace, and defending went out the window for both sides (not like it was ever in the window for us).
The manager introduced Ceballos for LT, and that gave us a different sort of energy. It introduced a link between attack and midfield, and it gave us a bit more mobility in midfield. Still didn’t stop Harry Kane waltzing into the box and ripping a shot off the inside of Leno’s post.
Still, you’d be hard pushed to convince me Arsenal weren’t deserving of a goal, the winds blew heavily in our favour and we looked far more menacing than Spurs.
The goal that levelled it was a thing of beauty. Matteo G threaded an outrageous pass that levelled the whole Spurs team, Auba gliding it past with the lightest of touches. It was out of this world.
We still had time for a Harry Kane dive, he shifted his body inside Sokratis running path and threw himself to the ground. It wasn’t even clever. It was pure out and out cheating. It really, really, really needs to be dealt with. His cheating is out of control. If he weren’t English, he’d be getting lampooned by the media.
So what can we conclude?
The Xhaka thing
Emery has to stop relying on Xhaka. He’s slow, ponderous, bad under pressure and he makes massive errors more often than any Arsenal player I can remember. I can give a pass to him for last season, but now it’s starting to look like a real blindspot.
Additionally, the manager needs to start being more aggressive with his line-ups. That midfield was always going to be bland. We shouldn’t have to watch strikers drop deep to make up for a lack of creativity. It made little sense to have 3 similar midfielders sitting in a flat line yesterday, especially when Spurs were there for the taking. We gave them far too much defensive respect and it didn’t even pay off, we conceded 8 shots in the first half, with 7 of them on target. An abomination.
I think that Matteo G just announced himself on the world stage. That performance was nothing short of sensational. He was at the heart of everything. His passing was good, he ran with the ball well, he was ambitious and his attitude was absolutely exceptional all game long. That should be the standard for every game moving forward. Incredible that he’s only 20 years old. A megastar in waiting.
I’ve seen some tasteless Arsenal fans comparing him to Gervinho. Utter drivel. The man hasn’t clicked yet, but you can see he’s going to be absolutely class. He has that air of unpredictability we need in that front line, he’s fast, he can pass, he reads the game well and I think he’s going to be capable of explosive moments of brilliance. He just needs a bit of luck, then he’s away.
Spurs had a lot of good chances yesterday. I think if I watched that game again, I’d be appalled at some of the defending. We are going to need to sharpen up, we are too easy to get at, and we gave key Spurs players far too much time to do their thing yesterday. Leno kept that scoreline acceptable yesterday, but he won’t save us like that all season. David Luiz also needs to be pulled to one side… that’s 4 errors in 3 games from him. Not good enough.
I think we’re nailed on for the top 3 this season. Spurs don’t look the same, Chelsea will struggle, and United are utterly average. It’s basically ours to lose, I just hope that isn’t an invitation to coast. Emery needs to tighten the ship and he needs to find a way of unlocking the magic more consistently.
Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments. x