Arsenal dispatched Tottenham 2-0 to complete their first Premier League double over their arch-rivals since 2013-14. It was also the first time the Gunners have won away to Spurs since that season, as well. The win takes Arsenal 8 points clear at the top of the table and puts an astonishing 14 points between them and Spurs, who are languishing in 6th place.
Spurs came out energized in the opening minutes of the match, but after weathering the early, well “storm” would be too generous, Arsenal took a firm grasp of the match. It was one way traffic, and the Gunners got their breakthrough in the 14th minute through a Hugo Lloris howler own goal. Bukayo Saka got around the outside of Ryan Sessegnon and fired the ball across the face. The ball took a slight deflection off the Spurs defender, but it hit Lloris in both hands and he turned it into the net.
The Gunners doubled their lead in the 36th minute. Martin Ødegaard found himself in acres of space in the midfield, so he called his own number. His 25+ yard shot found its way into the bottom corner. Lloris may have been somewhat unsighted, but he should probably have done better. Contrast Lloris’ performance with Aaron Ramsdale’s on the day, which was masterful. The Arsenal keeper made seven saves, including a handful of really good ones, en route to a Man of the Match performance. It Ramsdale’s best match in a long while for Arsenal, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Tottenham raised their level in the second half. Admittedly it wasn’t that difficult to do because anything is better than their 0 out of 10 in the first half. Arsenal stood firm and defended well. There was a period of 10 or 15 minutes where Spurs looked as if they might get one back, but Arsenal settled down. As mentioned, Aaron Ramsdale came up big when he needed to, and the Gunners saw out the match.
Usually, I point out the handful of Arsenal players who put in particularly good performances and one or two guys who had an off match. Everyone was at least solid to strong on the afternoon. Nobody had a bad match. Eddie Nketiah worked tirelessly. Granit Xhaka was fantastic. Thomas Partey and Martin Ødegaard controlled the middle of the pitch. Ben White made it seem as if Son Heung-Min wasn’t even on the pitch. Alex Zinchenko had his best defensive game in an Arsenal shirt. And I could go on.
Coming into the match, I was concerned that the media narrative surrounding the Gunners’ behavior in recent matches might influence the refereeing. Craig Pawson did a good job. He was a bit more lenient with his cards, but he was consistent. Cuti Romero was lucky not to have seen a second yellow. Thomas Partey somehow escaped a first yellow for an intentional handball in the first half. But Pawson kept things under control, which isn’t an easy feat in a North London Derby. VAR corrected his only big mistake of the match. He was deceived into awarding Spurs a penalty right at the end of the first half by an atrocious Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg dive, but it was quickly waved off. Hojbjerg was lucky to avoid a caution for simulation. It was one of the worst dives I’ve ever seen.
Things got a bit ugly after the final whistle. Richarlison had a go at Aaron Ramsdale for some perceived slight. The Brazilian striker took exception to Ramsdale laughing at him in response and had to be physically separated from the Arsenal keeper by a steward. The Spurs man still managed a push-swipe at Ramsdale’s face, though. The disagreement continued towards the advertising boards at the end of the pitch, and a Spurs supporter tried to run onto the pitch to get involved. He made it far enough to connect a kick with Ramsdale, which should result in a lifetime ban for him, a significant fine for Spurs, and hopefully an assault charge as well. It’s inexcusable.
But we shouldn’t concern ourselves too much with the petty, petulant antics from a mid-table squad that just got rolled and shutout on their home ground by their archrivals. The Gunners keep winning matches. They’ve passed every test so far, and I have no reason to think they won’t keep it up. We are top of the Premier League table and increasing the gap.