That was awesome. Arsenal smashing Spurs 3-0 in the first half then more or less cruising to a 3-1 win is the stuff that makes watching football and supporting a club worth it. Like the Arsenal players and Mikel Arteta who were smiling ear-to-ear postmatch, celebrating the win with the tremendous home support, I’m on cloud 9. Ain’t nothing gonna get me down today.
Arsenal started the match firing on all cylinders. Unlike we’ve grown accustomed to, they quickly turned that dominance into a lead. Twelve minutes in, Arsenal broke quickly off a middle-third ball recovery. Martin Ødegaard found Bukayo Saka on the right, who drove at and around his man and picked out Emile Smith Rowe for the opening goal.
A bit later (27th minute) Granit Xhaka bailed Aaron Ramsdale out after the keeper hit a poor ball that put the Swiss under pressure. Xhaka shielded off Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and found Emile Smith Rowe who had dropped very deep to support. One-touch wide to Kieran Tierney, one-touch to a checking-back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, one-touch into space for Emile Smith Rowe who had continued forward, and Arsenal were away. A few seconds later, ESR cut it back for Aubameyang whose first time shot found the far corner. An absolutely beautiful attacking move and goal.
And just seven minutes after that, Harry Kane lost his balance, fell over the ball, and gave it away. Arsenal quickly countered off the turnover, and after a bit of a fortunate bounce of a Kane challenge (after the Spurs man had ran the length of the field to recover defensively), Bukayo Saka made it 3-0 to Arsenal.
And that was all she wrote. The match was over before the first half whistle had gone.
Spurs did pull one back in the second half, but it was mostly down to Granit Xhaka lying on the pitch, actually hurt. The Swiss midfielder had stayed down after a collision, and Tottenham should have put the ball out (or Craig Pawson should have recognized a serious injury, not a player faking, and blown the play dead).
Xhaka was out celebrating with his teammates after the match with ice wrapped around his knee, but the collision did not look good. It was the kind of collision that can lead to a serious knee injury. Hopefully Xhaka got lucky and it’s just a sprain, but I’d expect him to miss at least a match or two. After the match, Mikel Arteta said he was “worried because it doesn’t look very positive” for Xhaka. Ugh.
With about five minutes remaining, Aaron Ramsdale was forced into an incredible save after a deflection sent a Lucas Moura shot weirdly looping towards the top corner. Ramsdale displayed excellent footwork moving backwards, timed his leap perfectly, and tipped it onto the bar. I absolutely love how emotive and fired up he gets by good saves and good defense.
That seems to be an attitude the entire defense (and team) has adopted. Gabriel sprinted over to congratulate Emile Smith Rowe for good defending in the first half. Everybody seems fired up and ready to hype up their teammates for making good plays.
I think part of that attitude stemmed from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang today. The captain had his best match in an Arsenal shirt in a long time. His movement was back to its usual level, and he was involved when the Gunners were on the ball. But the difference-maker was his work without the ball. He was pressing and putting in challenges all over the pitch, even in the Arsenal defensive third.
You could tell Arsenal were up for it today from the opening whistle. Minutes into the game, Ben White charged to his right to make a perfectly timed, sliding, covering challenge. Shortly thereafter, Bukayo Saka got stuck in. And that tackle was quickly followed by a strong piece of defensive work from Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Everybody played well for the Gunners today, especially Tomiyasu. He’s such a solid defender. He doesn’t get beat. Actually literally doesn’t get beat (so far). Ben White was strong defensively today, which is encouraging. I particularly enjoyed him winning a header over Harry Kane — turns out it’s not as easy to win aerial balls when you can’t back into an opponent to put them off balance. Gabriel and Kieran Tierney weren’t tested as much as their counterparts on the right, but they both answered the bell when needed. I’m back to feeling good about the Arsenal defense after some serious question marks to open the season.
After three matches, Arsenal were bottom of the table and Tottenham were top. Three matches later, three wins for Arsenal, and three conceding three goals losses for Spurs, the Gunners have moved ahead of their rivals.
I like it. A lot. Have fun enjoying the win, Gooners.