Arsenal ensured they maintained some local pride for the season thanks to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was dropped for disciplinary reasons.
Tottenham took the lead in the first half as Erik Lamela, who came on for the injured Heung-Min Son, scored a stunning rabona shot from just inside the box against the run of play after Arsenal had hit the woodwork. The Reds continued to dominate the ball and create all the chances and finally got their reward when on the stroke of half-time Martin Odegaard’s shot deflected in off Toby Alderweireld and past Hugo Lloris.
Mikel Arteta brought on the pace of Nicolas Pepe at half-time for an ineffective Bukayo Saka, and it was the Ivorian who played a pass through to Alexandre Lacazette who sliced his shot but was then brought down by Davinson Sanchez who was trying to block the shot for a penalty. The Frenchman dusted himself off to slot the penalty home and seal all three points for the Gunners.
To further add to Jose Mourinho’s misery Lamela was sent off for a flailing arm in the face of Kieran Tierney, meaning a second yellow card and a suspension for Spurs’ next domestic game against Aston Villa.
Such an important result for Arsenal and Arteta came after the manager revealed in his pre-game interview that captain Aubameyang was scheduled to start the game until he turned up late for the pre-match rituals and thus was punished.
Many questioned the decision to leave out your best and most prolific goalscorer in such an important game, but Lacazette was sharp throughout in his place and led from the front as captain too – scoring the winner.
It showed a great sign of management from Arteta to make that decision, showing that there are no exceptions for the rules – regardless of occasion or player status. He made a point to state that there had been a line drawn under the incident which leads you to believe he will return to the team sooner rather than later, but with The Athletic revealing that this isn’t the first time the player has arrived late you do wonder if there will be lasting effects.
Another battle Arteta won on the day was the tactical and mental battles against Mourinho, who had made a few digs in the build up to the game.
Mourinho opted for an attacking outfit from the start on paper with his side coming into the game in great form, but the actual set up was his usual big-game shaky self. Spurs created next to nothing with 11 men on the pitch and it took a stunning, creative strike from Lamela to do anything.
Arsenal dominated the ball, controlled the game and created a steady amount of chances throughout and were fully deserving of their win. Spurs’ pressure towards the end caused a few shaky moments for the Gunners but they stood tall and came away with all three points.
With Europa League progression looking very likely after their 3-1 away win over Olympiacos in the first leg last week, Arsenal can look towards working their way back up the table. The win keeps them in 10th place in the league but means they’re now just five points behind Tottenham and 10 points behind fourth placed Chelsea with a game in hand.