Arsenal 4-2 Spurs; North London is red again after passionate derby triumph over bitter rivals
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Arsenal hosted bitter rivals Spurs in a dramatic North London derby on Sunday at the Emirates. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report.
Arsenal beat Spurs 4-2 in a dramatic London derby on Sunday lunchtime.
A brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang supplemented by goals from Alexander Lacazette and Lucas Torreira clinched the victory for the Gunners after Spurs went into the break 2-1 up after Eric Dier and a Harry Kane penalty put the Lillywhites in command.
Unai Emery’s Gunners - who were unbeaten in 17 matches across all competitions prior to kick-off - fielded a vastly more experienced side than featured in the Ukraine during their excellent 3-0 victory against Vorskla in the Europa League on Thursday.
Alexandre Lacazette was assessed ahead of kick-off with Emery happy to select him as substitute despite missing the win at Bournemouth with a groin injury.
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A raft of senior players were recalled although there was no space for Mesut Ozil in the squad.
Tottenham defender Juan Foyth returned after being ineligible for Wednesday’s win against Inter Milan while Jan Vertonghen who played in the 1-0 victory over the Nerrazurri could play his first league game since September.
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Christian Eriksen, who scored the winner to keep their faint Champions League hopes alive started after an abdominal injury.
Midfielder Erik Lamela missed the match after suffering a thigh injury at Wembley while Kieran Trippier is still out with a groin problem.
The atmosphere at the Emirates before kick-off was fevered such is the enmity between the two sides at either ends of the Seven Sisters Road.
The decibel levels were ramped up even more after only 10 minutes when Vertonghen handled the ball from a Granit Xhaka corner, leaving referee Mike Dean no option but to award a penalty.
Aubameyang made no mistake from the spot, sending keeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way to send the majority of the crowd wild inside the Emirates and many millions more watching around the globe into raptures.
Emery’s Arsenal looked fired up for the match, full of controlled aggression and tactical nous.
On Wednesday evening at Wembley Spurs defender Ben Davies was the catalyst for a number of attacks down the left channel, yet the Gunners head coach had clearly studied the situation.
Yet in the early stages Davies threat was nullified as right-wing back Hector Bellerin, slightly ahead of the back three, pushed on to deny the Spurs man time and space to prompt attacks.
Pochettino’s Spurs looked stunned at the intensity of Arsenal’s pressing in the early stages.
However, the visitors from N17 showed they had character as well as quality too, and equalised through Dier’s header from close range after Eriksen fired in a free-kick from the left channel.
The Dane Eriksen is a creative talent and an excellent player, even if his well-flighted dead ball after Sokratis fouled Heung-Min Son should perhaps have been cleared by a static backline, or at the very least dealt with slightly better by Bernd Leno.
Dier then proceeded to taunt the Arsenal fans behind the goal with his excessive goal celebrations prompting a melee as well as a booking from Dean.
Yes, it was a display of passion in a frenzied derby, and yes fans want to see unbridled joy if it comes from their players. But to engage in such self-indulgent behaviour is unnecessary as it was distasteful.
Four minutes later the match was turned on its head by a blatant dive from Son who went down near to Rob Holding causing Dean to award his second penalty of a fiery game.
Quite simply Son should have been given the yellow card for diving rather than earning a spot-kick which the world class Kane calmly converted.
As it was Arsenal went into the break 2-1 down. Yet as every Gunners fan knows by now the second half performances under Emery are turbo-charged.
So it was again as Aubameyang equalised to send the crowd wild once again after a superlative right-footed shot from the edge of the box following a pass from substitute Aaron Ramsey to make it 2-2.
As supporters also know Emery isn’t afraid to be proactive in terms of half-term tactical decisions as Lacazette replaced the underperforming Iwobi while Ramsey came on for the mercurial Mkhitaryan.
Fellow substitute Lacazette showed Emery’s bold policy works by putting the Gunners 3-2 up on 74 minutes before Torreira scored Arsenal’s fourth 180 seconds later as the crowd erupted once more and red smoke bombs filled the air.
To cap a miserable day for Spurs Vertonghen was deservedly sent off late on for catching Aubameyang’s foot in a reckless challenge as North London, once again became red.