Pochettino pinpoints moment which changed dynamic of the derby
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The Spurs manager bemoaned the luck of his side this season when it comes to key decisions
Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino insisted a tackle by Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka on Harry Kane early on in the north London derby changed the Premier League game.
A dramatic conclusion occurred at Wembley Stadium and only once referee Anthony Taylor blew his whistle to bring the clash to an end was the draw confirmed with three results a real possibility in stoppage time.
However, Pochettino displayed his bemusement after that the man in the middle didn’t even award Spurs a foul following Xhaka’s studs up tackle on Kane during the first half in Brent.
The England international was running towards goal when he went down and no free kick was given, but replays later showed Arsenal’s number 34 had caught him with a late and bad tackle.
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It led Pochettino to insist post-match: “I think sometimes we focus on a few actions, but I think the action that changed the game was after 12 minutes.
“The action from Xhaka to Harry Kane, that wasn’t even a foul. That was the action that afterwards changed everything in the dynamic of the game.
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“This season, we are so unlucky with decisions that affect us in a negative way. Like Manchester United, Paul Pogba should be sent off, then Kane got an injury when it was a clear foul on the edge of the box, but no foul.
“We keep on going in many, many, many situations, but you know, we hope at the end of the season and next season maybe it will change and we have more luck in the future.”
Arsenal took the lead soon after Xhaka’s tackle on Kane and deservedly so after they settled the better of the bitter rivals under the arch.
Davinson Sanchez misjudged a header inside the visitors half and it allowed Alexandre Lacazette to send Aaron Ramsey through on goal.
Hugo Lloris initially came, but backtracked and it left the Welshman with the simplest of tasks as he rounded the Spurs captain and made it 1-0.
Eventually Tottenham replied with 74 on the clock when Kane was blatantly pushed in the back by Shkodran Mustafi from a free kick.
Despite the pressure of the situation, the Spurs academy graduate fired into the corner confidently giving Bernd Leno no chance.
The drama was not over there, though, as Sanchez gave away a penalty on the stroke of full time when he caught Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the area.
Up stepped the Gabon international, but his spot-kick was weak and Lloris managed to parry it away from goal, although the danger wasn’t over.
Alex Iwobi squared the rebound for Aubameyang, yet his close-range effort was somehow deflected over the crossbar brilliantly by Jan Vertonghen.
It perhaps made it feel like two points dropped for the Gunners while Spurs were ultimately fortunate to get a draw.
But Pochettino added: “I think if we assess the game, we were better than Arsenal in all the aspects.”
He continued: “It was a fantastic game, an exciting game, with a great atmosphere and two teams who wanted to play and win and always it’s tough to play against Arsenal.”
Lloris’ penalty save at the death helped him make amends after his mistake in the 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Wednesday night, though his manager didn’t see it this way.
“It was a bad night Wednesday for the whole team, not only Hugo,” Pochettino said. “You put the finger on Hugo as responsible for the defeat? It was not him, I cannot blame him for Wednesday.
“Hugo is one of the best in the world, he does not need to show that, he cannot prove anything, but we know how we are.
“When the defeat appears, the finger always points at the big players, like Hugo or if Harry misses some big chances or we don’t win like in the last two games then ‘Harry is the problem’ or I don’t know. That is because they are such big players.”
Spurs ended the derby with Danny Rose playing out of position in midfield and while he carried the ball well at times, he did also get caught on a handful of occasions.
The left-back was involved in one of the final moments of the contest when substitute Lucas Torreira was sent off for a shin-high tackle on the makeshift central midfielder.
Rose was fine to resume eventually and Pochettino explained his thinking afterwards, he said: “We had to find a different solution to play.
“We wanted to play with a back four and we wanted to use Jan going forward, but we missed an aggressive midfielder to help Moussa Sissoko and Danny, when he was younger, played there a lot.
“After nearly five years we know he has the technical quality to play as a midfielder because he is so aggressive.
“For different circumstance, after (Victor) Wanyama was out, we wanted to have more consistency in the middle and when he started to play there I think it was good.
“He lost some balls because the habit to play and repeat in that area, it is different when you play on the side, but I think he has the quality to play there because technically he is so good.”