Flamini strikes twice as Arsenal knock Spurs out of Capital One Cup
Mathieu Flamini was Arsenal’s unlikely matchwinner, scoring both of Arsenal’s goals in his first game of the season as the Gunners triumphed 2-1 at White Hart Lane to knock arch-rivals Tottenham out of the Capital One Cup.
Flamini opened the scoring as Arsene Wenger’s side took a 1-0 lead into the break and, although Calum Chambers’ own goal restored parity, the French midfielder delivered a 78th-minute knockout blow from time with a 20-yard volley.
Arsenal have now won their last three cup clashes with Spurs, having beaten them at the same stage of the League Cup in September 2010 and then eliminated them from the FA Cup in the third round in January 2014.
Both managers made wholesale changes, with Mauricio Pochettino swapping eight players from his line-up against Crystal Palace, giving Federico Fazio his first game of the season and goalkeeper Michel Vorm his first outing since the opening day of the season at Manchester United.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger made 10 changes, with Aaron Ramsey the only survivor from the side that kicked off at Chelsea on Saturday and Joel Campbell and Flamini both being selected for the first time this campaign.
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Arsenal created the first opening as Kieran Gibbs got in behind and delivered a low cross which flicked up off the sliding Oliver Giroud and was headed over the bar by Campbell.
The Gunners then took the lead – and Spurs’ reserve goalkeeper Vorm was culpable as he got down and palmed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low shot straight out to Flamini, who finished into the roof of the net.
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Spurs increased their own threat in response and Harry Kane found Danny Rose, who cut inside before wastefully dragging his right-foot shot wide of the near post.
Tottenham’s left-back was becoming increasingly involved, and he met Fazio’s crossfield ball with a neat first touch that beat Mathieu Debuchy before racing into the box. His lobbed shot over the onrushing David Ospina cleared the bar but he then made contact with the Arsenal keeper’s knee as he attempted to hurdle him, causing the home fans to shout for a penalty which was dismissed by referee Andre Marriner.
Rose was then called into action at the other end as he beat Campbell to Giroud’s cross – the Arsenal striker’s momentum taking him over the advertising board and into the crowd.
Tottenham nearly shot themselves in the foot as the rusty Fazio played a loose square pass which was intercepted by Oxlade-Chamberlain on the halfway line – and the Arsenal man went on to beat Fazio for pace before opening his body in an attempt to curl the ball into the far corner, only to mis-hit his shot.
Spurs ended the first half on top but Kane’s lack of confidence in front of goal meant he was unable to capitalise.
When the ball fell invitingly for him in the box he dallied, checked back and teed up Christian Eriksen, whose shot won a corner. And, when the ball dropped to Kane again moments later, it slipped past him.
Eriksen led a break at the end of the first half and freed Kane, who attacked the box from the left – but he dragged his low shot wide of the far post.
Spurs were quickly out of the traps in the second half and had the ball in the net as Eriksen’s low shot hit the post and Kane followed up to score – but the goal was disallowed for offside.
It mattered not because Tottenham equalised for real soon afterwards. Kieran Trippier’s deep cross from the right reached Chadli beyond the far post and, when he sent a low ball into the goalmouth, Chambers stuck a foot out and diverted it past his own goalkeeper.
Spurs’ tails were up as the home faithful roared them on and Kane’s confidence seemingly got a boost as he sent an audacious, acrobatic scissor kick past Ospina – only to be denied a stunning goal as Gibbs headed the ball off the line.
Pochettino swapped Andros Townsend for Heung-Min Son and Wenger introduced Alexis Sanchez, who nearly made an immediate impact as he ran at Trippier, cut back and shot at Vorm at the near post.
It was becoming an end-to-end encounter and Vorm was called into action again as Arsenal broke and Ramsey played in Giroud, whose effort was saved.
The Gunners then went on to score the decisive goal, and Flamini was the unlikely hero again, running onto the ball as it dropped 20 yards out and crashing a volley into the bottom right corner.
Spurs substitute Dele Alli sent a low effort at Ospina while Theo Walcott ran at a thinly-stretched Tottenham rearguard in injury-time but missed the target – and there was no further drama as
Tottenham: Vorm, Trippier, Fazio, Wimmer, Rose, Dier (Njie 85), Carroll, Townsend (Son 66), Eriksen, Chadli (Alli 75), Kane.
Arsenal: Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Campbell (Sanchez 67), Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott 89), Giroud