I don’t think it would be going too far to say this was the most impressive Spurs performance at Arsenal in recent times. 75 minutes of high intensity Pochettino football. It almost looked like the hosts had mistakenly taken the field against Bayern again, granted minus the clinical finishing.
The Sky commentators managed to constantly remind us that Arsenal had had to play in Munich on Wednesday, but it was Spurs who were facing their third opponent in seven days. Eight players began all three games but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the way we started.
The pressing was high and intense, particularly targeted at the Arsenal midfield. I lost count of the number of times Cazorla gave Tottenham possession. We hunted in twos and threes. An opponent would turn away from trouble, only to find another white shirt standing in front of him.
When Spurs had the ball, Dier, Vertonghen and Alderweireld played it around at the back, taunting the Arsenal players, then moved it swiftly forward once a weak point had been identified. Eriksen was full of invention, ably supported by Walker and Rose on the flanks.
Lamela was fantastic. As good with the ball as without. Early on he skipped passed challenges with ease. Just as impressive was Dembele, overpowering the opposition. He’s been a different player of late.
Kids of nineteen and twenty one dominated the centre of the pitch, set against far more lauded opponents.
It was Kane who got the goal Spurs’ play deserved, making a mockery of all the one season wonder talk. This guy’s for real. You can’t get much bigger than scoring in the north London derby and the young striker already has three derby goals to his name.
But we let them off the hook. It would have been a miracle to keep up that intensity for 90 minutes. Lamela was starting to look like a certain red card, on a yellow but still showing admirable aggression. He had to be taken off for his own good but it handed the opposition the momentum.
If there is one Achilles heal of this Spurs defence, it’s from high balls in the box. While we’ve gained pace and mobility, we’ve lost a little of our aerial prowess. But it wasn’t until the Argentine had left the field that Ozil had the time and space to measure up a cross.
Now Arsenal had a little deserved foothold in the game, finally having discovered a way to trouble Spurs’ backline. For the last fifteen minutes they tried to replicate it.
While it was a nervy finish, there was something satisfying in knowing that we’d reduced a Wenger side to “putting the ball in the mixer”. A moral victory of sorts.
So close to a famous win, where can this Spurs side go from here? I’m looking forward to finding out.
Should Pochettino have left Lamela on for Spurs? Which players stood out for you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.