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On a glorious autumn afternoon in North London Arsenal destroyed Tottenham in a one-sided contest which Arsenal dominated for the vast majority of the game. Trev’s excellent preview alluded to the defeat in early May which was so damaging to our morale and our Champions League aspirations. There were questions asked about our mental resilience and Tottnumb fans crowed about the gap between us.

So, this game was played in a feverish atmosphere. I suspect other Gooners shared my nervousness before the game and during it I suspect my blood pressure was unhealthily high – at least until about the 70th minute. Arsenal have an excellent record at home against the Spuds and started with high intensity pushing the Spuds back continually. Martinelli and Saka were bright as buttons on the flank whilst Partey and Xhaka dominated midfield where our extra man threw into doubt the wisdom of the way Conte set up his team. Martinelli and Xhaka went close but the first big chance fell to the away team with Richarlison getting first to a cross with an untidy scuffed shot. Ramsdale saved well but I suspect Richarlison was offside.

White and Xhaka went reasonably close and then Arsenal took the lead with a superb and uplifting goal. The ball was rolled across the box after a 22 pass move and Partey swung his right foot 20 yards out. We’ve seen this movie many times before and it never ends well, in fact it usually ends high up behind the goal! This time was different! The ball swerved beautifully high into the top right corner and Arsenal had a deserved lead. 

Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0 (Partey, 19 minutes) 

So far, Tottenham had been playing in what the commentators called ‘transition’. To my untutored eye they were playing long-ball football and relying on the pace and power of their front three. Call me a cynical Arsenal fan but I could see no difference between this unattractive, rather random approach and those of Mourinho and Espírito Santo. Nevertheless, football is neither fair or inclined to award the spoils automatically to the more aesthetically beautiful or cohesive side and we all started to fear that Arsenal’s very high-octane offensive approach might leave them short of cover if Tottnumb managed a breakaway. 

The referee, Anthony Taylor, was letting the game flow and appreciating the context of a derby that was fiercely contested but never malicious. I thought Romero might have been booked for a foul on Jesús but the referee was pretty consistent. Arsenal were starting to concede space out wide which the Marshdwellers’ wingbacks could exploit. Emerson Royal seemed manifestly incapable of doing this but Perisic fired wide when he had a decent chance on the left-hand side of the area. 

Then it happened! Arsenal were caught out by a Tottenham break but their loose passing looked to have lost them their chance. Saliba produced a superb clearing header which (in his only mistake of the game) Xhaka miscontrolled and Richarlison was brought down quite clearly by an impetuous Gabriel. It was a clear penalty and Harry Kane (who gets plenty of practice taking spot-kicks in the North London Derby) fired it down the middle to equalize. 

Arsenal 1 Tottnumb 1 (Kane penalty, 30 minutes) 

A far post Kane header when he might have done better on 37 minutes was straight at Ramsdale and the suspicion was growing that Tottenham were taking control. Jesus lifted the pessimism with a brilliant dribble and close- range shot and a minute later our mercurial striker produced a fine piece of defensive play dispossessing Richarlison near our box. The question might be asked why he was back there doing that job but his work rate is phenomenal and it was a very important intervention. Neither Højbjerg or Bentancur are creative players and Tottnumb’s play was still very different in style to Arsenal’s but the presence of three international goalscorers was a concern as the interval approached. Half-time arrived with a feeling that Arsenal had lost momentum and that the Spuds might have sucked some of the life out of Arsenal’s verve and creativity.

Half-time: Arsenal 1 Tottnumb 1 

If Arsenal supporters felt deflated at the interval, it was clear as soon as the second half began that Arsenal were determined to regain their momentum. Jesús felt he had a good claim for a penalty ignored by the referee but a couple of minutes later his frustrations disappeared as Saka cut in past three defenders and fired in a fierce left foot shot. Lloris blocked Saka’s shot but the ball hit Romero and bounced back to him. Lloris then dived over the ball and Jesus pounced getting around behind him to run the ball into the net. 

Arsenal 2 Tottnumb 1 (Jesús, 47)

If Brazil can afford to ignore Jesús for their World Cup squad they are either richly blessed or their manager is an idiot. The fact that he prefers Richarlison may suggest that the latter conclusion is the right one! Jesús’ speed, touch and physicality caused all three of the Tottnumb defenders major headaches although he missed a good chance on 52 minutes.

Tottnumb started to get more possession and Højbjerg missed a decent chance on 59 minutes failing to emulate Partey in a similar position. Arsenal were now again clearly the better side and the main reason was the quality of Partey, Xhaka and Ødegaard in midfield.Tottnumb were not looking able to control the game but their speed on the  break was always a worry.

Then came five minutes that irrevocably changed the game. On 61 minutes, on our left wing around halfway, Royal aimed a malicious challenge at Martinelli raking his studs along the back of his leg. Anthony Taylor hesitated momentarily before brandishing a straight red card. It was the correct decision and underlined not only the relative hopelessness of the Tottnumb cause but also the mediocrity of a player that was an alternative option for us when we signed Tomayisu. Strike one for Edu! (Bloody Edu!) 

Arsenal needed to find a third goal to put the game to bed and did so five minutes later when sustained pressure inside the penalty area saw the ball transferred to our new attacking sensation (Xhaka!) and he thumped the ball home for his first NLD goal. It was richly deserved after another brilliant performance in this wide left role.

Arsenal 3 Tottnumb 1 (Xhaka, 67 minutes)

Conte is very much a creature of habit and decided to make five changes (four in one go). That two of them involved Son and Richarlison going off, suggested that his priority was respectability rather a glorious revival. The rest of the game was played largely in and around the Spuds’ box and Arsenal looked likely to increase the score most notably when Tierney, on for Zinchenko, hit a terrific left foot shot well saved by Lloris on 89 minutes. Partey, Jesús, Ødegaard and Zinchenko were replaced by Tomayisu, Sambi, Nketiah and the aforementioned Tierney and Gooners everywhere, particularly the lucky ones in the stadium, luxuriated in the enjoyable and unusual situation of a tension free denouement to the game. 

Final score:  Arsenal 3 Tottnumb 1 

This was a wonderful occasion for Gooners everywhere. Over the next few days we will undoubtedly dissect and replay some key moments. It is very notable that this season we have played teams that inflicted heavy and damaging defeats on us last year and with the exception of ManUre, beaten them all comprehensively. It is particularly encouraging to beat our noisy neighbours and in so doing revealing what I thought was a huge difference in the quality of our football compared to theirs. There have been whispers growing in volume that the quality of the Spuds’ performances have flattered to deceive and today they looked markedly inferior to an Arsenal team that maintained an intensity and possession based game to which Tottnumb had no answer. A penny for Harry Kane’s thoughts as he considers the prospect of struggling on in a side so devoid of midfield creativity.

But who really cares about them?! We were excellent today and there were a number of standout performances. I thought the pick of them were Partey, Saliba, Jesús and Saka but Man of the Match was undoubtedly Xhaka. He is a player reborn in a new role and the benefit to the team is clear to see. Nobody played badly but I worry about Gabriel who does some stupid things from time to time. I’m not sure we wouldn’t be better served by bringing in Tomi and moving White to play in the centre although it should be noted that Tomayisu plays left centre back in a three for Japan.

We need to avoid the mistake of prioritising this game above the other challenges that confront us but we all know Spuds who have been insufferable since May. They are silenced now and North London is Red and vibrant again!

Enjoy, Gooners! 

44 Drinks to “Five months is a long time in football”

  1. 1
    Ollie says:

    Enjoying a RED wine in the Eurostar lounge. Will read the blog once boarded. Too excited right now. Superb day. Think the early leaving and result means I’m going to stop in my usual Scottish pub once on Paris. Cheers!

  2. 2
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bravo, TTG. Just the right mix of reportage and celebration.

  3. 3
    Las says:

    Thanks, TTG! Flying over the highest hurdle. An outstamding report of an outstanding game.
    Arteta made wonder with the Arsenal. And honestly, who would thought that about Xhaka?!?
    There are so much to love about this team. The fighting spirit, the togetherness, the leadership.
    Well done. North London is red and always will be!

  4. 4
    Ollie says:

    Good stuff TTG. Very accurate report. One hour from Paris and very happy. Saliba, seriously amazing skills in both boxes (that thing in theirs during added time, wow!). Hope we can tie him down.
    Happy days. Say WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE!
    And Xhaka is a new player.

  5. 5
    Bathgooner says:

    Excellent and speedy report, TTG. Faberesque in its fine distillation of events from a nerve-jangling match. The latter not a result of the opposition’s possession or creativity but rather from their everpresent threat of taking advantage of a speedy breakaway and the importance to this young team of a victory to re-inforce their self-belief.

    Spudz are truly awful to watch. As you note, this match underlined the contrast of styles. We deserved our victory and but for a brief wobble after the pen, we dominated the match and played some lovely football. Pity we didn’t score a couple more. Xhaka was also MotM for me.

    We are looking very good indeed.

  6. 6
    Ollie says:

    Indeed bath. For a club who like to think they play entertaining footbalt they were incredibly boring and shit. Nearly in Paris now. Great day!

  7. 7
    Countryman100 says:

    I’ve had a bloody marvellous day. Now outside a delicious ruby and several beers and feeling no pain. Great report TTG. I’ll come back tomorrow with some thoughts and impressions from the North Bank.

    North London is red!

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    We are the first match on MotD at 10.25.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Splendid, TTG and splendid Arsenal. Also top of the league, if you’re keeping track.

  10. 10
    ecg says:

    Is anyone else checking the table on a regular basis to make sure you’re not dreaming?

  11. 11
    Ollie says:

    We. Are. ….

  12. 12
    ClockEndRider says:

    Excellent report, TTG. Very much the game I saw from my privileged position in the North Bank lower.
    For me, actually, Martinelli was MOTM, but I won’t quibble.
    The nerves pre match were palpable. These were dispelled as soon as we kicked off and it was another fine, controlled display. Funniest sight of the afternoon was the Marshdwellers not-very-select eleven going over to clap nobody left in their section after the game. I don’t remember hearing the bell go for the fire drill, but hey ho. The Tavern was rammed for hours after the game and I have to confess to breaking my duck for the month after a dry September with more than 1 liquid refreshment taken in fine company. I put this down to practice for Scruz visit next weekend, good Boy Scout that I am. And I managed to reconcile C100 with his specs after he left them in the boozer last month too, so all in all, a fine days entertainment.
    Oh, and we are top of the league. Normal service resumed. Nice day, All.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Well what a fantastic day. Like many others I find the build up to this particular game to be very tense. In many ways you just can’t wait for us to get going . My thanks to a newly svelte CER who from a combination of going on the wagon and walking 85 miles in the cause of teaching classics (CER is the only management consultant I know with a degree in Latin and Greek – classy here ain’t it) has dropped a stone. He kindly retrieved my glasses from the Canonbury Tavern where I had left them about a month ago (it’s my age you know). The world suddenly looked sharper!

    Into the stadium and every seat taken. Tickets are as rare as rocking horse droppings and unfortunately several of our regulars missed out. Those who were there were truly blessed. The first goal was an absolute worldie and you could see the ball curling in from outside the post from Partey. To be fair it was his 373rd attempt on that goal in the last two years but hey, if you are going to finally score it, the first goal in an NLD is quite the time. In the first half Spurs came back and it was after a miscontrol by Xhaka and a clumsy tackle by Gabriel that Kane was lining up a penalty. The tackle was right in front of me and you couldn’t argue with the call.

    So into the second half and the joy of what we call “a bobbly one”. A real poacher’s goal that Laca wouldn’t have got close to last season. Brilliant stuff. The red card was strange. It was 80 yards from us, but nobody, nobody was calling for red. Some shouts for a yellow but that was it. So when Taylor pulled out the red the shock was palpable. Having seen it back it looks like the right call, a nasty ankle breaker on Gabi. Certainly Alan Shearer and Ian Wright had no doubt on MOTD that a red should have been shown. Not long afterwards, Partey, Martinelli and Xhaka, all of whom together with Saliba were outstanding, combined to kill the game.

    At that point, do you know what happened? Spurs gave up. Conte made four subs, including the highly ineffective Son (Kane gazed after him as he left the pitch like a small boy who had lost his teddy bear) and they just stopped running. Our lads put the cigars on and pressed for a fourth but it didn’t happen. All the Spurs fans fucked off (well the queues at Highbury and Islington station can be a bitch). And this when only two goals behind. They clearly didn’t see that game when we were 4-2 up going into in injury time and finished 4-4, thereby ruining my holiday in Cyprus.

    The crowd, of course were huge in their support. Roaring on the team when Kane’s penalty went in, howling at the ref and lining up to abuse Richarlison. The DJ playing the toons is really hitting his stride now and, just like in the women’s game last week, once the final whistle went, he gave us Arsenal karaoke with Saliba (tequila), Saka and Emile Smith Rowe (rocking all over the world) and then, of course we’ve got . . Granit Xhaka (glad all over). Out we floated.

    This standard cannot be maintained …can it? Who’s up next? Oh yes. Scruzgooner and Liverpool.

  14. 14
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks TTG, I enjoyed every word and thanks to C100 as well, whose first sentence summed it up nicely. It wasn’t just the win, it was the style of it. We’ve looked the better side over the first 7 games and proved it well on the day. Just the performance we wanted to start a tricky October – run the game for most of the first hour, let them implode and then cruise home after they gave it up.
    Roll on Bodo

  15. 15
    Trev says:

    Superb report,TTG – exactly recaptured the sense of the day, pre, post and during the game.

    I agree with you that Brazil must have an incredible choice of strikers available to them if they can leave out Gabriel Jesus. His skill, hunger and physical resilience have transformed the spirit and togetherness of the whole squad. I’m not, of course, Partey (sic) to the mental state of the players, but that’s how it appears to me. Someone else deserves a large slice of the credit for that, who has so far had no mention in the MoTM stakes, and that is Mikel Arteta. It’s also clear that his partnership with Edu is pretty outstanding too.

    Your report sums up everything else completely, TTG – including a mention for referee Anthony Taylor who had a very fair game – with the notable exception of failing to book Harry K•n• for a clear and obvious shove in the back and girly kick at Gabriel (I think)

    And yes, two places separated the clubs in the table before the game yesterday but there was a glaring gulf in class on the pitch that was obvious to everyone (except Lee Mason, I suspect)

    Apologies for any typos – I’m writing this in terrible light outside a cafe, in my phone)

  16. 16
    Trev says:

    And thanks C100 for another great view from the terraces – well, comfy seats 😉

  17. 17
    bathgooner says:

    An excellent supplemental eye-witness account, C100, of a courageous and skilful Arsenal performance against a cowardly and snide Swampie outfit. Imagine paying to watch that garbage every week?

    It was only this morning when I rewatched MotD that I realised that Jesús had to get past not just the prone Lloris but also the obstructinve bulk of Romero to get to the ball as it squirmed below the goalkeeper. He showed awareness, hunger, speed, strength and determination to score that goal. It was no mere rebound tap-in. I’ve not seen the combination of those qualities from an Arsenal centre forward for a while.

    I too was as astonished that Conte threw the towel in after we scored our third as I was when TP5’s shot didn’t join his others in row Z. It’s a damn shame that we didn’t rub salt in that Tottnumb wound in the last 20 minutes. Probably saving it for next Sunday.

    Better keep mum about scruz and Matt being in town so as not to heap pressure on the team.

  18. 18
    Countryman100 says:

    Excellent news about Matt. T’will be a grand gathering of the clans.

  19. 19
    OsakaMatt says:

    We are multi-continental these days,much like the team 🙂

  20. 20
    21st century gooner says:

    Well I thought we battered them from start to finish. I did actually expect us to win fairly comfortably although I think it’s fair to say I was in the minority there. I have watched spurs closely this season and all honestly, they have not impressed me. Relying on counter attacks and individual brilliance from 2 certain odious individuals may be enough to see you past the likes of Leicester and Southampton but not against this hungry Arsenal side. I thought Partey completely dominated their midfield more or less on his own, xhaka was pulling the strings in the left half-space, ødegaard did his usual buzzing around causing problems, and martinelli in particular caused all sorts of havoc against the hapless, and quite frankly not very good, Emerson Royal. Everyone was either a 7 or an 8/10 for me. As has been the case all season. Saliba just gets better and better every week, he pocketed the odious twins, Kane and son. Richarlison who I have never particularly rated or liked, got next to no change out of Zinchenko. You could amputate both his legs and it would make little difference the amount of time he spends rolling about on the floor. Just like neymar but with a fraction of the talent. But I see no difference between this spurs side and the ones we saw under Nuno and the other Portuguese bus driver. They’re just boring, surely none of their fans can’t enjoy watching that turgid horseshoe football every week? Then again they are spurs fans so they wouldn’t know what good football or success looked like if it punched them in their gormless little faces. I don’t see conte making it to the end of the season, it’s just a question of weather he takes back the Juve job or he gets sacked for being a whinging dullard. But back to Arsenal, we were excellent again and we’re top of the league. I still thinking winning the title remains a long shot what with city having a bloke up top who averages 18 goals a game but stranger things have occurred. Of course the longer we do spend in the title race, the more comfortable we will be in a champions league place come may. I still think we will finish second. Also as a side note, United are hopeless. Happy days indeed

  21. 21
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice to see you in the drinks 21CG. Hope the academic term has started well.

  22. 22
    Countryman100 says:

    TA6 is through in Strictly. Well done Gooners! Same again next week for Mr Arsenal!

  23. 23
    scruzgooner says:

    back late from a long blacksmithing weekend in the wilds of california. just finished watching the game: we were too, top class, and they were shit.

    looking forward to next weekend, all, so much. i hope my presence at the game doesn’t break the flow of the team! a win over liverpool after a fine lunch with friends? oh, yes, please.

  24. 24
    scruzgooner says:

    and ttg, a fine post. will reread, though, when not so tired…

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    And some excellent colour commentary, too, from those lucky enough to be at the game.

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    The women have drawn holders Lyon, Juve and Zurich in the group stage of their Champions League.

  27. 27
    scruzgooner says:

    indeed, ned!

  28. 28
    TTG says:

    Thankyou for your kind reactions to the report. I was anticipating this might be a week when posting volumes might be quite high given the nature of the opposition and the glorious nature of our victory but this hasn’t been the case. Maybe we are getting blasé about being top of the league!
    There were plenty of points that the media have picked up on but my main conclusion reinforces what 21CG says in his post . We were stunned and depressed by what happened in May and it prompted me to write a piece comparing our prospects with the Spuds. To summarise I felt they might edge us out again for top four this season but that in the long- term we would be much better placed. Most posters largely agreed.
    On the evidence of Saturday I was too pessimistic. They have huge goalscoring potential, but not very much else and there are very few players in their squad I would swap for ours.We play football that is more sophisticated and attractive and we showed an appetite for a big match that was heartening .
    If we can continue our momentum and if injuries and the World Cup doesn’t derail us it is conceivable that we could finish second this season and we should definitely finish above the Spuds

  29. 29
    bt8 says:

    TTG, The long term trend has been fewer drinks when the team is playing well. The cause could be that readers cannot think of things to criticize and so are sitting back and enjoying being top of the league without commenting, but that doesn’t mean they’re not reading the report. But I haven’t heard from GSD in a while. He may have gone completely berserk with his celebrations. 😆

  30. 30
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent match report TTG! Sorry for this delayed post.

    Lots of great comments as well. Everyone played well, Partey and Xhaka exceptionally so. Saliba and Martinelli get very special mention for me. In addition to their individual technical qualities, combined with tenacity and front footed aggression, they both have a kind of unflappability that must be unnerving to the opposition.

    Now that finally one of Partey’s long-range efforts went in I expect a few more of those this season. Such a perfectly constructed goal!

    If we can play at this level, and further reduce mistakes in both boxes (we should have scored more) I think we will give even City and ‘Pool trouble.

  31. 31
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@28: We’re all just basking…

    Dr F@30: ‘Pool will be a character test, as Man U was, but hopefully with a better outcome. The City game could be a fantastic match between the two best-creatively coached sides in the PL and possibly now the two best sides period. Pep has City playing at another level and Haaland is a couple above that. What a test for Saliba.

  32. 32
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Ned@31: I guess against City the trick would be to cut off the supply line to Haaland and deny him any time on the ball in the box. Easier said than done. 🙂
    I am more optimistic about the ‘Pool match. I haven’t seen them play this season but based on the results they are likely not to be much better than how they were last season, and I think we have made some key improvements.

  33. 33
    scruzgooner says:

    fingers crossed, dr. faustus!

  34. 34
    bathgooner says:

    The Dipper game coming so closely behind the wonderful performance against the Marshdwellers is another test this team has to pass. Can we maintain the standards we achieved against Tottnumb in consecutive league games? That’s the next thing we have to achieve – consistently dominant performances in the big games. Even Arsenal teams that have been in the doldrums have raised their games for the NLD as indeed do the opposition but often reverted to their mean thereafter. I think this group is better than that. I want to see us do the same to the Dippers as we did to the neighbours.

    I’m beginning to think that the only things that will stop this group achieving their objectives this season are injuries and suspensions to key personnel, dodgy decisions and the caustic impact of the Qatar world cup on focus, momentum and form.

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Pretty good season so far.

  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    What do we do for an encore?

  37. 37
    bt8 says:

    Bodo my glimt

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    Or glimt my bodo to be more precise

  39. 39
    bt8 says:

    Howdy Matt

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    Howdy bt8

  41. 41
    OsakaMatt says:

    For an encore, binning the bindippers will do nicely after boondoggling the bodos.
    Bath is right @34, it will be a good test mentally this weekend. We are certainly
    playing better than they are and on form it should be three points but there are
    probably some scars from the many games we’ve lost to them over the last few
    seasons. I don’t think we’ll be able to dominate quite as much as we did against
    Spuds as the dippers are much less passive but we can get at their defence as
    many teams have already this season.

  42. 42
    Las says:

    An excellent analysis about the Arsenal attacking formation and strategy from our fellow blog.

    A Deeper Dive into how Arteta tactically outwitted and outfought Conte in the NLD

    I loved it.

  43. 43
    bt8 says:

    An excellent analysis you linked to, Las. Also at Gunnerstown for comic relief:

    What do you think of Tottenham? Arsenal Legends weigh in.

  44. 44
    Bathgooner says: