Arsenal convincingly defeated Spurs 3-1 at the Emirates to stay top of the Premier League table for another week. It was a comprehensive victory, really. The visitors hardly troubled the Gunners, and Antonio Conte totally gave up once Emerson Royal saw a straight red for a ridiculous tackle on Gabriel Martinelli.
For all the commentators and neutrals who weren’t convinced by Arsenal, those who were prattling on about how they’ve not played anybody, have you figured it out yet? This Arsenal team are good good.
The first half played out exactly as you’d expect a match between these two clubs to go. Arsenal were in control and went deservedly ahead on an absolute worldie of a shot from outside the box from Thomas Partey. Spurs evened the score with a penalty won off a quick counter (and some laughably poor defending from Arsenal). I don’t have much of a problem with the penalty award — it was a foolish challenge from Gabriel Magalhaes. I would point out, however, that Richarlison made the absolute most of the contact.
Arsenal bossed the second half. The Gunners scored 5 minutes in and never looked back. On the goal, Bukayo Saka cut into the box, with space created by Ben White’s lung-busting overlapping run and fired a shot that Hugo Lloris saved but didn’t control the rebound. Cuti Romero couldn’t react in time and ended up deflecting it back towards his own goal, Lloris fumbled the ball, and Gabriel Jesus walked it into the empty net.
The game went completely out of reach when Emerson Royal received a straight red for a challenge on Gabriel Martinelli. Graeme Le Saux (and other commentators) waffled about whether it was a red or not, but I don’t think there is any question. Bottom of the boot, into an opponent’s ankle, nowhere near the ball — textbook red card. And even if it was more in the orange territory, it was incredibly foolish from Royal. There was absolutely no reason to challenge like that with Martinelli being closed down by two people, on the sideline, dribbling towards his own goal. As we’ve said time and again about Arsenal players when calls have gone against us, you can’t give the referee the opportunity to make the decision. You have to be smarter.
The Gunners didn’t waste anytime to seal the points, either. Five minutes after Royal was sent off, Granit Xhaka took the ball over from Gabriel Martinelli on the edge of the Spurs box and fired a shot back across the grain into the bottom corner to make it 3-1, match over.
I thoroughly enjoyed Antonio Conte’s quadruple, “I give up” sub a few minutes after Arsenal took a two-goal lead. It was the smart thing for him to do with a Champions League match on Tuesday. But man are the optics bad (and hilarious). Imagine throwing in the towel in a North London Derby. How embarrassing.
Coming into today’s match, Arsenal had slightly underperformed their xG and xGA on the year. Spurs were unbeaten on the season despite their unconvincing play, carried by (probably) unsustainable finishing from their elite attackers significantly overperforming their xG. Today was a great day for those trends to flip back to where they should be. I’d be worried if I was a Spurs fan. They’re a smoke and mirrors side. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min can only carry you and mask bigger issues for so long.
On the other side of things, Arsenal are playing really well. William Saliba was imperious again, bossing Harry Kane all over the pitch. Ben White isn’t getting nearly enough praise for his magnificent run of form. Gabriel Martinelli was a menace. Granit Xhaka is Granit Unshackled. Gabriel Jesus is the real deal. It’s really fun to watch.
Spurs haven’t won at the Emirates since 2010. Arsenal have now won 7-straight matches at home against Tottenham. Let’s have a green party in the comments, y’all.