It is no longer about the three points during a derby match, as football changes from a simple sport to something about defending personal pride. And when on the subject of derbies, hardly any discussion would go on without the mention of the North London derby.
The decorated event has been a fixture that witnessed the most draws in the Premier League history than any other. However, this time, a side did manage to snatch a victory, for the first time since the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino.
The Gunners faced Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at the Emirates in a thrilling fixture that seemed like an apt reply to all the talks about an apparent ‘power shift’ in North London. The hosts emerged victorious with a 2-0 result thanks to goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez.
Meanwhile, there was much more the victors showed and proved during the match, and here are five key talking points from the Emirates thriller:
1. Arsenal can actually beat any English team if they want to
Arsene Wenger’s team has always been labeled as a lacklustre side ever since their departure from their beloved Highbury Stadium. At most, the North Londoners have managed to win the FA Cup, but have failed to win the title in over a decade, leaving supporters frustrated.
Ironically, when Wenger’s men actually play passionately and with hunger, they actually look capable of much more than what they are usually credited for. And that is exactly the characteristic the Arsenal squad displayed against their bitter rivals on the day; they looked hungry, and clearly wanted the win more than Spurs.
Further, this has been the case many times in the past, as we can learn from the Londoners’ win against Leicester at start of the season and two seasons before that. The former Invincibles have been through absolute shame, but have proven capable of pulling off unlikely wins in unlikely situations.
2. ‘Invisible’ Mesut Ozil bossed the entire match
Not only did Arsenal reply to the speculations about a power shift, but Mesut Ozil also managed to hit back at his critics in a stunning fashion.
The German pulled out a top-drawer performance against Tottenham and maintained control over the midfield area single-handedly. Despite the presence of prominent midfielders like Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli, Ozil maintained his resolve and hardly left any stones unturned.
The former Real Madrid man was also the facilitator for his side’s first goal from Mustafi. Through this, the talented playmaker also recorded his 45th Premier League assist; more than any other player since his debut.
Situations have gotten to a point where labeling the 29-year-old as a liability and invisible has no credibility or relevance to actual facts. Mesut performs when the team around him performs, as evident from today’s display.
3. What went wrong for the visitors
The team that went out and beat European champions Real Madrid was humbled by the Gunners, who are actually not in their best of forms. The situations begs the question of what went wrong for Pochettino’s side, and the answer is probably their best players.
Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen, arguably the best lot of Spurs’ squad, all failed to perform significantly, which curated their defeat. Whilst Kane tried his best multiple times, Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny made sure they didn’t leave any windows to be exploited.
On the other hand, Eriksen failed to replicate his recent performances which he put in for Denmark, and could hardly create any chances despite his best efforts.
As for the former MK Dons youngster, he was arguably at his weakest form, and thus, could not make himself useful to his side. Spurs fans’ accusation of Ozil going invisible may return to haunt them, as Alli suffered the exact same outing this time around.
4. Mike Dean takes the spotlight yet again
Well, hardly any games go by without a tiny controversy if they are officiated by Mike Dean. This time, the infamous referee allowed the Emirates Stadium outfit an offside goal via a stunning Mustafi header.
However, the offside call would’ve indeed been extremely difficult to make, given that only a fraction of the German’s forehead was offside.
On the other hand, the claims of Alexis Sanchez’s goal being offside by the Tottenham supporters, unfortunately for them, are absolutely false on the basis of replays. Hence, it proves that Wenger’s men didn’t completely ride their luck till the full-time whistle.
5. What’s next for Arsenal?
At the end of the day, this is Arsenal we are talking about; they have shown a history of making things difficult for themselves despite possessing the capability to overcome difficulties.
The London outfit currently sits a point behind their local rivals, and will definitely have to maintain their good run if they hope to catch up and overtake Spurs. Though they are yet to come across a few tough fixtures, maintaining the resolve to better Pochettino’s men will be key this season.
Written by Ashish Sreejith
Have had two addictions in life- playing football and watching football. Usually described as introverted but not when it comes to speaking and writing about the beautiful game of football.