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Monday Cannon Fodder: basking

Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Who else is still basking in the afterglow of Arsenal’s North London Derby victory? I sure am. There aren’t really words sufficient to describe the feeling of watching the Gunners not only beat Spurs, but comprehensively beat them. What’s wild is that I don’t think Arsenal played particularly well, either. Or at least they didn’t play as well as we’ve seen this season. I think the ceiling for this side is higher, and they didn’t have to approach it to handle Tottenham.

The victory is made all the more sweeter by Antonio Conte revealing himself to be a massive hypocrite. The Italian criticized Mikel Arteta for complaining about Rob Holding’s soft yellow cards which led to his first half sending off last May, and then whined about Emerson Royal’s pretty clear straight red “ruining” the game. He also outed himself as delusional — he said he thought Spurs were attacking well and controlling the game up until the red card. They created one shot from open play and had 40% possession.

Arsenal are levels beyond Tottenham right now. If I were a Spurs fan, I would be concerned. They’re going to win points and remain competitive because of their elite attackers. Son Heung-min, Harry Kane, Richarlison, and Dejan Kulusevski are all quite good, and they play well enough together on the counter. But that’s really all they’ve got. Last season, Hugo Lloris gave them elite-level keeping, but is he an elite goalkeeper or is he just a pretty good one who had a really good season? Great attackers and good keeping will only take you so far, and setting up in a way that gets you dominated in the possession metrics and outdone in expected goals nearly every match isn’t a recipe for long-term success. Just ask Unai Emery about his time in charge of Arsenal.

And on top of all that, their football is dreadful to watch. They frequently have all 10 outfield players within 25 yards of their own goal. They have no creativity in the midfield. They just lump the ball into space and hope that one of their talented wide attackers gets there first and does something special. It’s awful.