Straight to DVD. An immediate classic. This one had it all - great goals, hard challenges, banteriffic moments, controversial calls, and a large dose of good, old-fashioned hatred.
Arsenal jumped out to an early lead, Tottenham struck back for two, and the Gunners went in at the half looking shellshocked. But as they’ve done all season long, Arsenal came out like gangbusters in the second half - they scored three and took home a vital three points with a 4-2 victory.
The Gunners started the match on the front foot. The width provided by Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin gave the Tottenham defense fits, and Arsenal created chance after chance. They went ahead on a 9th minute penalty kick goal from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang after Jan Vertonghen decided that it was a good idea to go up for a header with one arm fully raised into the air...for reasons.
After taking the lead, the Gunners had two balls cleared off the line, and Aubameyang missed a fantastic chance from inside the six yard box. I wouldn’t call it a sitter because the cross took a deflection, but he probably should have done better. You just knew that Arsenal would regret managing just one goal from all those chances. Tottenham had started the match poorly and was going to come into it at some point, and in the 30th minute, they did. Sokratis gave away a silly foul on Son Heung-min (30+ yards out, back to goal, along the sidelines - completely unnecessary). Eric Dier nodded home the ensuing free kick to even the match. Bernd Leno really should have saved the header - he was in position and just missed the ball.
And then, shenanigans. In celebration, Eric Dier ran towards the area where the Arsenal subs were warming up and shushed the supporters in the corner. Noted antagonist Stephan Lichtsteiner took offense and let Dier know, physically, that his celebration was not appreciated. Aaron Ramsey and Matteo Guendouzi were also very much in the middle of things. Both teams came together, the stewards got involved, Mauricio Pochettino came running down the sideline to intervene, there was pushing, shoving, and general chestiness, but eventually cooler heads prevailed.
Just four minutes later, Tottenham struck again. Son was awarded a penalty, Harry Kane converted, and Spurs took a 2-1 lead. I don’t want to belabor things so I’ll just say this - if the Premier League used VAR, the decision probably would have come out differently. Also, @ Premier League, please start using VAR.
But as we all know, Arsenal are a second half team this season, and once again, they held true to form. Unai Emery took off Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and put on Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette to start the half. The changes paid dividends.
Just over 10 minutes into the half, Hector Bellerin played an inch-perfect, 40-yard ball to Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey squared it first-time to Aubameyang whose first-touch shot completely froze Hugo Lloris. It was a classy finish and a gorgeous goal to even the match at 2. Aubameyang’s brace moves him into sole possession of the Premier League lead with 10 goals and makes him the first player into double digits on the season.
In the 74th minute, it was Aaron Ramsey on the set-up once again. This time, Alexandre Lacazette was the beneficiary. Ramsey chased down Juan Foyth, won the ball back, and played it forward to Lacazette. The ball got a bit stuck in the Frenchman’s feet and the chance looked to have passed. But Lacazette kept the play alive, cut the ball back, and managed a shot that deflected off Eric Dier (he of the shushing gesture earlier in the match) and found the bottom corner. Ramsey’s 2 assists on the day tie him for the league lead at 6.
Three minutes later, Lucas Torreira salted away the match with his first Arsenal goal (what a time break your duck, eh?). The Uruguayan shook Eric Dier (who probably feels pretty silly having taunted the Arsenal support), ran onto the end of a lovely through-ball from Aubameyang, and smashed a shot into the far corner. As he has been all season, Torreira was fantastic, locking down the midfield, breaking up the play, and generally being a nuisance for the opponent.
To add insult to injury, Jan Vertonghen picked up a second yellow in the 85th minute and was sent off. It was a pretty nasty challenge that probably could have been a straight red.
There were two minor blips on the day. Granit Xhaka picked up his 5th yellow card of the season, which means he will miss the match with Manchester United at the midweek. Shkodran Mustafi left the match with an injury, but before being subbed off, he was able to return to the pitch and play the ball, so hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Today’s win moves Arsenal into 4th, ahead of Tottenham on goal difference, and one point behind Chelsea. The result also has a significant effect on the Gunners’ top four chances. Coming into the match they were just 34.5% to finish in a Champions League place, after the win, that number jumps up to 47%.
No recap can do this match justice. It was simply a great game of football. If you missed it, find a way to watch it. If you saw it, watch it again.
Unbeaten in 19 straight. This is really, really fun.