OPPONENTS Arsenal at Emirates
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Sunday 2nd December 2018

With most of the top sides playing on Sunday for Sky Sports' "Derby Day", Manchester City took the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table.  For the chasing pack it will be about not losing touch, but derby games are inevitably hard to predict, because of the nature of the game, where not just the form book, but every sensible view of things go out of the window.

Arsenal have been rebuilding following the departure of long-serving Arsene Wenger, who became the focal point of Gooner rage for winning the FA Cup.  New manager Unai (Dick) Emery has tried to reshape the side in the image of his successful Sevilla team rather than the failing he had at Paris Saint Germain, where the money spent on players demanded the Champions League trophy.

There is not quite as much money sloshing around Highbury these days, with things going Kroenke since Stan bought out his rival Usmanov's shares to give him a majority shareholding.  That has been another bone of contention for supporters, who have also been upset by the removal of  St Totteringham's Day from the football calendar.  For a team who's local derby is against Charlton Athletic, it is all a bit bewildering.   But it is an important match for them, so they will be up for it.  We have shown over the last few weeks that we are capable of winning different ways.  Dominating teams and putting our chances away v Chelsea; Dominating and waiting for the one goal v Inter; Winning games when we have not played particularly well, as it had mostly been up to the Chelsea match. 

Pochettino spoke about humility after the Chelsea match and his thoughts no doubt went back to our win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.  Following that result dropped off a bit, as there may have been a bit of over-confidence, so I think that Poch's mantra is now "Treat every game the same", so that the team don't think that they only have to turn up.  In his own way, Mauricio is just as tough as Emery is lauded to be.   His dropping of Ozil might have made waves, but it has worked and will probably be the kick up the backside he needed.

Arsenal have spent money on brining players in, who have mostly been attacking players.  Aubameyang, Lacazette, Guendouzi and even Lichtsteiner are all concerned with going forward.  They bought Torrreira, who looks to be something like a poor man's Lee Cattermole and Sokrais Papastathopolous (but he was just to raise money on shirt sales), but they hardly add to a defence, which is their Achilles heel.  Cech has lost the aura he once had, while Leno wasn't being pushed into the team, but looks a decent keeper and holds the gloves at the moment.  The back four could contain Holding, Nacho, Mustafi and Bellerin, so there may be scope to get between them with runs directly at them.  Kolasinac is a strong wide defender/wing back, who likes to get forward, so if he plays, it could hand us opportunities on the break.  I don't think Lucas will start this match, but Son and Eriksen could prove to be important players by taking on their opposite numbers.

The midfield of Arsenal is made up of players who can influence a game, but also some who have failed to live up to expectations.  Ramsey and Ozil, can, on their day be very good performers, while the likes of Mkhitaryan, Elneny and Xhaka are players a lot of Arsenal fans thought would be better than they have turned out.  Spurs will need to be strong in this part of the pitch, but they put on a show of strength against Chelsea that displayed a new side to the team.  One who will not be psyched out of a game by the opposition's approach, but they need to show guile as well and Sissoko needs to maintain his fine form to turn the game Tottenham's way.

Danny Welbeck is out injured, so that leave a double spearhead of Aubameyang and Lacazette up top.  Both have been scoring, while not too freely, but with Jan back alongside Toby, it could be a partnership that we are capable of handling.  Nigerian youngster Iwobi is another player Emery likes and he is a strong runner with the ball on the floor, while the other two are able to score from almost anywhere in and around the box.

The belief in the Tottenham camp is very high at the moment, after our own good run.  Arsenal are unbeaten in 18 games. Spurs are good away and Arsenal are good at home.  Spurs had a tough Champions League game at Wembley against Inter, while Arsenal played a team of reserves in the Ukraine in the Europa League.  A draw might not suit either team, but I think it might be the outcome as both teams will be keen to cancel out the other.

PREDICTION Arsenal    1        Tottenham Hotspur    1
Premier League Kick off 14:05
Arsenal  4 (1)  
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (2)

Aubameyang (p)  09m 05s
Aubameyang  55m 36s
Lacazette  74m 00s
Torreira  76m 45s

Dier  29m 46s
Kane (p)  m s
Crowd :   59,973 Weather :  Damp, mild, drizzly
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirrall) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Darren Cann ; Mr. Dan Robathan
Fourth Official :  Andre Marriner  
Arsenal kicked off and played towards the Clock end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 11 minutes.
Mustafi (foul on Son) 36
Xhaka (foul on Dele) 49
Torreira (taking shirt off) 78


Vertonghen (handball) 9
Dier (celebrating goal) 32
Dele (foul on Xhaka) 65
Aurier (foul on Holding) 90

Vertonghen (second yellow - foul on Lacazette) 85

Arsenal : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
19  Bernd LENO

20  Shkrodan MUSTAFI       (29  Matteo GUENDOUZI  71)
  2  Hector BELLERIN

11  Lucas TORREIRA       
  Granit XHAKA  (c)     

17  Alex IWOBI  (  9  Alexandre LACAZETTE    46)
14  Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG   
  7  Henrik MKHITARYAN  (  8  Aaron RAMSEY  46)

Unused subs: 
1  Petr CECH
  4  Mohamed ELNENY

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

24  Serge AURIER     
1  Juan FOYTH
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN               
33  Ben DAVIES  (  3  Danny ROSE  82)

15  Eric DIER       
7  Moussa SISSOKO

  7  Heung-Min SON  (27  Lucas MOURA  79)
20  DELE Alli       (  8  Harry WINKS  79)
Christian ERIKSEN

10  Harry KANE  (p)

Unused subs: 
18  Fernando LLORENTE

Manager :  Unai Emery Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Fly Emirates Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

In a London derby that had most things, Arsenal came out on top with a 4-2 win in a match that swayed one way and another, before ten man Spurs eventually succumbed.

With Arsenal having the luxury of making 10 changes from their reserve outing in the Europa League in Ukraine, Spurs had to patch up the side that faced Inter in midweek, with Alderweireld and Moura starting on the bench with Winks, as Mauricio Pochettino rotated his squad in a limited fashion.

Early on, Davies was dispossessed by Bellerin and Mkhitaryan’s cross was headed over by Aubameyang, as Arsenal were sharp from the start, closing down and forcing Spurs into hurried passes that turned over possession.  Then Aurier lost the ball when he let the ball go under his foot and conceded a free kick out on the left. When it came in, Jan threw a hand up and diverted the ball away giving away a penalty, that Aubameyang put away.

Juan Foyth gave the ball away, but won it back with a good tackle, setting Son away and forcing a shot at goal from a tight angle on the right that Leno had to push out for a corner. When it was cleared Kosinac pulled a low ball back from the dead ball line, but Aubameyang was just too far ahead of the ball. Spurs were all over the place and were being forced to play long, as Arsenal closed down space. The lack of options were forcing Spurs to play risky passes and when there was an opportunity to get away, there were some red shirts covering. The effort Arsenal were putting into the game was intense, so the question was would they be able to keep it up ?

Spurs were sleeping when Xhaka took a quick free-kick releasing Kolasinac on the left and his pull back was met by Iwobi, but Lloris kept the ball out with his feet and then Davies denied Bellerin with a good block. Spurs did break at the other end and Dele looked for Eriksen square, but Kosalinac was back to clear to out for a corner. That was cleared, but soon Son was put in on the left by Eriksen and he warmed Leno’s hands down at his near post with a firm shot.

A stupid foul by Sokratis, who stood on Son’s heel in the 30th minute, gave Eriksen the chance to fire a ball into the near post and Eric Dier made the run to head powerfully at goal with nobody around him, leaving Leno only able to scoop the ball into the net at his near post.  Spurs were back in the game with a goal that might have come against the run of play, but had been coming, with a couple of chances created.  Arsenal lost it as Spurs celebrated and there was a huge rumpus in the corner of the pitch after Lichtsteiner started to have a go at the Spurs players.  Players, subs and coaches were all involved and it ended with Dier getting booked for celebrating his goal while no Arsenal player was cautioned.

The home side’ lack of discipline showed just a minute after the restart, when Son ran at Holding in the box after a neat back-heel from Kane put him away and he slid in to take the striker’s ankle from underneath him and Mike Dean had a think about it, but pointed to the spot.  Mustafi and Kolasinac started pushing and facing up to Davies and Dele, but again, no action was taken against them.  The Arsenal crowd weren’t happy, as they already reckon Dean is a Spurs fan, but Harry Kane settled himself before slotting the ball to the keeper’s right as he dived to the left.

Tottenham had turned the game around in a couple of minutes and suddenly, the zip had gone out of Arsenal’s game as they lost their heads. Now, it was Spurs who was looking sharp and foul after foul was committed by the home players and Tottenham looked a bit more like the team that beat Chelsea last week. As thought beforehand, it was the Arsenal defence which was their weak link.

Lloris made a fine save just two minutes before half time, saving with his feet when the striker was unmarked to a low cross from the Arsenal left, not knowing that the Gabon forward was offside anyway. Arsenal forced a couple of corners as the game entered three added minutes at the end of the first half, but they ended with Mustafi trying a bicycle kick that flew high into the Clock end.  Two more came when the game neared the end of the added time and this time Mustafi stooped to head the ball and Hugo got a finger to it, but it was going to hit the bar anyway.

It had been more like a local derby than other recent games, but by being calm and playing our game, despite the early pressure, the side managed to turn the score-line around by the break.

At the start of the second half, it was Spurs doing the pressing despite a double change by Emery. Another silly foul gave Eriksen a free kick to whip into the box and only Holding’s header cleared it for a corner, with Leno coming but getting nowhere near it.  Xhaka then kicked Dele with no thought about what he was doing and another free kick, just a yard outside the right hand corner of Arsenal’s penalty area.  This time it was Kane, who fired it in and Leno dived up to punch it over the bar.  Moussa Sissoko’s confidence showed when a long clearance upfield by Leno was chested down and he tried to knock it back over him from inside his own half, but it was wide of the goal. Arsenal were getting desperate, with every foul seeing them appeal for a yellow card, with the pressure being put on them when they were on the ball.

When Arsenal did go forward, they were trying to find a way into the box and when Foyth cleared and Torreira bumped into him, the crowd roared for a penalty, but it wasn’t given and Holding then had a 25 yard shot that went almost that far wide.  When Bellerin played a ball down the right, Ramsey turned it inside and Aubameyang got there before Aurier and hit it first time, with Lloris unable to react as the ball went just inside his left hand post to make it 2-2.  The tempo had dropped in the game, but now it picked up again. From an Arsenal corner, Mustafi had a shot when the ball was headed down and Dele cleared it, just in front of the line, with Lloris behind him. Torreira hit the rebound back at goal and the ball fizzed over the bar. Now it was arsenal who were pressing and Sokratis headed a corner for them over the top.  Pressure was coming on Lloris' goal because Tottenham’s closing had tailed off as they dropped a bit deeper.

Son had a great chance to take advantage of a loose pass across goal straight to him, but his 20 yard shot was pushed aside by the keeper.  The game started to get a bit scrappy, with Dean awarding a lot of free-kicks for 50-50 challenges, but Spurs broke away from an Arsenal corner and Leno had to come a long way out of goal to clear as Sissoko looked to get onto a through ball. But then, when the ball was played forward, Foyth stood on the ball and Lacazette was put in and his shot came off Dier’s shin to take the ball away from Lloris and into the corner of his net.  The goal was another one that we shouldn’t have conceded and had another slice of fortune for the home side.

A couple of minutes later, Aubameyang slid a pass through into the right side of the Spurs box and Torreira took it on and shot past Lloris into the opposite side of the goal to make it 4-2 with Spurs not picking up players when they lost possession.

Spurs won a corner when Bellerin gave the ball away again, but when the out-swinger came to Lucas, he headed it wide when unmarked.  The Tottenham players looked dispirited and while they kept trying to play, a stretching tackle on Lacazette saw Jan pick up his second yellow and a red to go with it, with Dean adjudging that while he got the ball first, his follow through was worthy of another caution, which Spurs cannot now appeal against.

Arsenal ran time down with a succession of players going down like they had been steam-rollered, when they had hardly been touched, just adding to the bad feeling that they had instigated earlier in the match.  They showed little interest in going forward until the board came up with six added minutes shown by the fourth official.  The Arsenal crowd also found their voice with a 4-2 lead in added time and against ten men. Even then, Aubameyang was kicking the ball away as he had in the first five minutes.  When their fans started whistling with two minutes of added time left, you could tell that they were still worried even then.  Even at the end, Sokratis was telling Son he had dived.  They really are an objectionable bunch.

Like Arsenal of old, they raised their performance for one game a year and were worthy winners. Helped by inconsistent refereeing. Vertonghen’s foul for his second yellow was nothing much different to Holding’s tackle for the penalty or Sokratis’ stamp on Son’s heel. And how there were no Arsenal bookings in the aftermath of our first goal to the subsequent penalty, I cannot explain.  The equalising goal for the home team swung it in their favour, as they were then on the front foot and we shot ourselves in it.

With Chelsea winning too, we drop to fifth. We will also be without Vertonghen for one game and with Davinson injured, it means we lack a bit of cover in the centre-half department. Southampton got a draw against Manchester United yesterday and they are out next opponents, but hopefully we can get back into winning ways, as Arsenal travel to Old Trafford. We will need to be on our game again as the Saints are battling to pull away from the bottom.

Kirk Hammerton

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Friday
Crystal Palace 2 Burnley 0 Saturday
Huddersfield Town 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Saturday
Leicester City 2 Watford 0 Saturday
Manchester City 3 Bournemouth 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 0 West Ham United London 3 Saturday
Southampton 2 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Fulham 0 Sunday
Liverpool 1 Everton 0 Sunday



League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 14 12 2 0 43 6 38 +37
2 Liverpool 14 11 3 0 27 5 36 +22
3 Chelsea 14 9 4 1 29 11 31 +21
4 Arsenal 14 9 3 2 32 18 30 +14
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 14 10 0 4 25 14 30 +11
6 Everton 14 6 4 4 20 16 22 +4
7 Manchester United 14 6 4 4 22 23 22 -1
8 Leicester City 14 6 3 5 20 17 21 +3
9 Bournemouth 14 6 2 6 23 21 20 +2
10 Watford 14 6 2 6 17 19 20 -2
11 Brighton & Hove Albion 14 5 3 7 15 20 18 -5
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 4 4 6 13 17 16 -4
13 West Ham United London 14 4 3 7 17 22 15 -5
14 Crystal Palace 14 3 3 8 10 17 12 -7
15 Newcastle United 14 3 3 8 11 19 12 -8
16 Cardiff City 14 3 2 9 13 27 11 -14
17 Huddersfield Town 14 2 4 8 9 24 10 -15
18 Southampton 14 1 6 7 12 26 9 -14
19 Burnley 14 2 3 9 13 29 9 -16
20 Fulham 14 2 2 10 14 35 8 -21

Position before match :  4th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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