Arsenal miss Golden chance to cement Top 4 with late draw to Spurs.
The North London Derby between Tottenham and Arsenal is never short on Drama. Yesterday was no different. The two sides clashed at Wembley with Tottenham on a 2 game losing streak and Arsenal on a bit of a Sparkling run.
Tottenham were under no illusions losing the game would be nothing short of catastrophic for them, that would mean 3 straight losses on the bounce and suddenly being dragged into the Top 4 dog fight.. Arsenal were comprehensive winners in December at the Emirates , the question on everybody’s lips was would they make it a double over Spurs for the first time in 5 years.?
Unai Emery loves to tinker with his team in ways only he can explain. its almost like he loves to keep both his players and opponents guessing just how he may lineup and yesterday he did it again. His lineup was without Kolasinac and Torriera in their familiar position. Instead the starting line up looked like this
Leno, Mustafi, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi, Lacazette
Mustafi at Right back was definitely something i’d never have recommended given his well known penchant for moments of madness. But Emery put him there and played a midfield duo of the Jekyll & hyde Xhaka and the lively Gwendouzi. Emery was likely of the opinion that Spurs would look to press us from the front and wanted a Ball distributor (Xhaka) and a ball carrier (Gwendouzi) to be in front of the back four as quick outlets when we look to play out from the back. With the Tireless running from Ramsey coming in handy to serve as link between midfield and attack. It seemed as brave a lineup but not re-assuring as Both Xhaka and Gwendouzi have problem with speed and spurs players are pretty fast all over the park.
Arsenal began the game confidently and soon had spurs on the backfoot. Tottenham didn’t look confident and were attacking listlessly. The visitors on the other hand were measured in their play and had a sense of confidence the game plan was going to work. The put out pockets of raids from Tottenham and looked to hit them on the break. And in the 16th minute that was exactly what they did.Spurs were caught high up the pitch, Lacazette who had missed a great chance early on.. played in Ramsey at the half way line, he drove into the box, fooled Lloris with a nice dummy and finished with his left foot. 1-0 first blood the Gunners. Confidence oozed as they kept their rivals pegged back and had some chances to double the lead but missed them. Spurs best chance to score an Equalizer came in the 44th minute when a great ball found ericksen whose effort was save by Leno then the rebound was saved again in spectacular fashion by Leno from Sissoko. Amazing goalkeeping from the German. 1st half ends with Gunners firmly in control 1-0.
Ramsey celebrates his strike at Wembley.
The second half began with Arsenal still bossing proceedings in the midfield playing as mature a game as iv seen them play in a long time Stand out performers like Mhkitaryan and Sokratis were giving fans a lot of reason to hope that maybe the 3 points will be secured. Sokratis was a beast at the back, heading, tackling, pressing and combining well with Veteran Koscielny to shut out Kane and his crew. Arsenal very unlike them never looked disorganized in defense but instead assured and committed. Emery threw another dice taking off Gwendouzi and bringing in the Lucas Torriera at defensive midfeild to protect the lead. Spurs kept trying but were getting no Joy, Until the 77th minute when a freekick that was going nowhere and with 5 spurs players offside was ruled a penalty due to a shoulder barge from Mustafi. Referee points to the spot for a soft penalty. Kane steps up and buries it. Arsenal would rue the chance Lacazette missed a few minutes Earlier when after receiving a nice cutback pass from Monreal in a good position a shot wide of the mark. 1-1.
Arsenal fans could not believe they had blown a late chance to grab 3 points
An energised Spurs suddenly looked to capitalise but Arsenal closed them out,. Aubameyang was introduced for the mis-firing Lacazette and looked lively. But he also was set to play a dramatic role soon after. With game winding down and Both teams tired. Mhkitaryan squared a good pass accross to Aubameyang. He did well to outmuscle davidson Sanchez and get in goal side but was fouled in the box and earned a late Penalty to arsenal on 90mins of play. With 3 points surely waiting Aubameyang played possibly the worst penalty he would ever play in his career. Straight at LLoris with no power or height in the ball. Easiest save the French keeper will ever make from the spot. Utterly gut wrenching for Arsenal fans and Aubameyang for the next 20 seconds im sure wanted the ground to open up and swallow him.
The final whistle blew minutes later and the London derby had ended 1-1. But one team left the stadium feeling like it had lost. Arsenal. The race for Top 4 will be tense and between Spurs, Arsenal, and Manchester United it will be a see saw battle till the last day.