SUNDAY 12TH JULY, 2020
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) ARSENAL 1(1)
Referee:- Michael Oliver
Assistants:- Simon Bennett, Daniel Cook
Fourth official:- Graham Scott
Replacement official:- Darren Blunden
VAR:- Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR:- Harry Lennard.
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Sissoko, Lo Celso (sub Skipp, 84), Winks, Lucas Moura (sub Bergwijn, 82); Kane, Son (sub Lamela, 90+4)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Vertonghen, Tanganga, Sessegnon; Ndombele, Gedson
Booked:- Lo Celso (foul on Ceballos), Aurier (foul on Lacazette), Davies (foul on Pepe), Winks (foul on Lacazette), Bergwijn (foul on Willock)
Arsenal (3-4-3):- Martinez; Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac (sub Nelson, 84); Bellerin (sub Cedric, 84), Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney (sub Willock, 84); Pepe (sub Saka, 70), Lacazette, Aubameyang (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Macey; Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Holding; Torreira
Booked:- Lacazette (foul on Lo Celso), Pepe (foul on Lucas Moura), Saka (Dissent. Kicked ball away after foul on Sissoko)
Oh happy day (at last)
Spurs fans have endured a miserable time since Project Restart. Despite the fact that Spurs have now won three league games in a row at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time since their opening three Premier League matches there in April 2019, the last three games have been hard to endure. They were a defeat at Bramall Lane, a ground-out 1-0 victory over Everton last Monday, which was won only thanks to an own goal, and an even more miserable goal-less draw at relegation favourites Bournemouth where last year’s Champions League finalists did not even muster shot on target. There had been talk of a plane flying an anti-Enic and Levy banner over the ground before (or perhaps during) today’s game, but of that there was no sign.
In this, our sixth game since the Covid-19 lockdown, Spurs put the smiles broadly back on their fans’ faces with perhaps the result of the season a home win against our arch-rivals Arsenal. Toby Alderweireld had scored in this fixture in March 2016, when we drew 2-2. Today, hero Toby scored the winner in the 81st minute, towards the end of a second half where Arsenal had dominated possession (they had 63% over the whole game), following a well taken corner by Son. Jose Mourinho was the victor today with a strategy often seen before with most of the previous teams he has managed. Indeed Jose Mourinho has never lost a home game against Arsenal in his career (W6, D4).
The greatest shame of course was the fact that no fans were allowed into the stadium, but all those of home persuasion were happy and will remain so at least until our next fixture. Spurs have leap-frogged Arsenal in a true six-pointer and now sit two points above them in eighth place with a better chance of a place in Europe next season.
THFC would not allow me the fly the Spurs Odyssey flag in the stadium for these behind closed doors games but it will feature in my match report!
Davinson Sanchez replaced Jan Vertonghen for this game. It looked as if he started to the left of Alderweireld, but the two centre-backs soon switched position. Jose switched his wing-men with Lucas Moura and Son replacing Lamela and Bergwijn, but he also switched his formation with a 4-4-2. Sissoko played on the right of midfield ahead of Aurier. Lucas Moura played ahead of Davies. Both had the job of supporting their full backs to the extent that sometimes you could perceive a back six. This was against a 3-4-3 Mikel Arteta led formation. Arteta had captained Arsenal when they last won a Premier League game at Tottenham in March 2014. Since then Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six home league games against Arsenal (W4, D2).
Arteta went with experience with Bukayo Saka on the bench allowing a front three of Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang.
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence mourning the loss of England World Cup winner Jack Charlton, who was also a hero for the Republic of Ireland’s team. Spurs kicked off and played towards the South Stand. After only 17 seconds and following an error by David Luiz, Lucas Moura hit a shot on target which was saved by reserve keeper Emiliano Martinez. Martinez subsequently made a short clearance which fell to Son’s feet, but “Sonny”’s cross was cleared. Aurier pushed a ball to Sissoko in front but Sissoko’s cross was held by Martinez. Lucas Moura hit a good long ball from the left to Harry Kane, who took a touch to his left and tried to lift the ball over the advancing keeper. Martinez just managed to get a touch to push the ball over. Harry thought he had scored the goal which would have made him the top scorer in these derby matches.
Spurs then had started brightly, and had more shot on target than they managed on Thursday night, but now Arsenal got onto the front foot. Aubameyang missed his shot in the centre of goal after a cross from the right and Tierney over-hit the return ball. However, Arsenal did take the lead with a quite sensational goal by Lacazette after Aurier had let the ball run away from him the feet of Xhaka who fed the Arsenal number 9. Lacazette hit a screamer from 22 yards which almost burst the net.
Spurs came back straightaway though. They took advantage of another Arsenal defensive error with Kolasinac mis-directing a ball passed back to David Luiz, who could not collect the pass. Son did and moved towards the left of the area scoring with a left-footed shot nicely lifted over Martinez. My 1-1 prediction was on the cards, but ultimately I was only too happy to be wrong!
Aurier crossed to Sissoko who was in the box, but was crowded out by the Arsenal defence. Lo Celso lifted a ball for Harry Kane but Kane was offside. After the drinks break, Aurier conceded a needless (and disputed) corner when he touched a ball that was going out anyway. Thankfully, nothing came of that. On the half hour, after a Spurs corner on the right, the ball was worked to Ben Davies lurking a full 25 yards out. Davies hit a rasping shot which Martinez did touch. The ball rebounded off the bar with a resounding thump.
Pepe was given space on the left of the Spurs area but hit his shot wide across Lloris and the goal. Aurier got the second of three Spurs first half bookings for a foul on Lacazette. (The first had been shown to Lo Celso for pushing Ceballos in midfield) After a foul by Davies Pepe hit a free kick from 25 yards over the target. Aubameyang got space again (this was Davies’ area), but fired wide of Lloris’s left post.
Son found Lucas Moura who had a shot on target that was half-blocked and ran out for a corner. Soon after that both Lucas and Son were in good possession on the edge of the Arsenal area, but they could not conjure up a shot between them. Ben Davies got our third yellow at the end of the first half. Three players had to be careful for the remainder of the game.
Early in the second half Lo Celso found Lucas Moura with a pass towards the left of the area. Lucas hit a good shot, but Mustafi defended it well. Winks was on dangerous ground when he committed a foul but was not shown a card at this stage. After the Arsenal free kick Kolasinac fired over.
Arsenal now had a spell when they were on top. Spurs were not losing them down too well, but throughout the game Lucas Moura battled hard up and down the pitch, and he did often get a foot in. After passes by Xhaka and Bellerin, Kolasinac had another shot on goal and this was held by Lloris just in front of his goal line.
At last Spurs got forward again and Kane was the provider for Aurier, whose shot was blocked.
Lacazette fed the ball to Aubameyang to his left. The Arsenal captain hit a shot which rebounded off Lloris’s right post. Pepe had a free kick on the right side of the Spurs are and Lloris decided he just need a wall of three. The wall blocked the kick. Pepe soon got booked for a petulant foul on Lucas Moura breaking forward, and was replaced by Saka.
Mustafi was at fault and Harry Kane got the ball to the bye-line on the left, cutting it back to Son, but Martinez was out to save at Son’s feet. Lucas Moura got to a good position on the left but hit a poor cross. Winks finally got booked for a foul on Lacazette. Spurs had been uncompromising when required.
Bellerin hit a pass to Aubameyang who was on the left side of the Spurs area. He hit a right footed curler, which Lloris saved just inside his left post. Lucas Moura hit a very good ball from deep on the left for Kane on the left of the Arsenal area. Martinez successfully closed Kane down. Spurs did have a corner though and Son took this from the left, hitting the ball with his right foot. Alderweireld rose in a pack of players and his head met the ball hitting the net in the goalkeeper’s left corner. Just imagine the roar that would have emanated had there been a crowd allowed into this game!
Spurs had been re-energised after the drinks break in the middle of this half and after the goal Son stole the ball off Mustafi, passing to Kane whose shot was saved, with Lo Celso’s follow-up blocked. Lo Celso was replaced by Oliver Skipp, making his first post-lockdown appearance. Lucas had been replaced by Bergwijn. Arteta made a triple substitution.
Bergwijn soon got booked for “taking one for the team” when impeding Willock. Kane and Son broke well from just inside the Arsenal half. Kane desperately wanted son to pass to him in the middle of goal, but Son shot and the ball was saved leading to a corner. Spur managed the closing stages well. Sissoko went on a gut-busting run deep into the Arsenal half which was only ended unfairly by Saka, who was shown yellow. In added time Kane hit a free kick but Martinez held cleanly.
Mikel Arteta said after the game of Mourinho:- “He manages really well and has a really good team behind him. I said before that he always finds a way to win." Jose certainly did a job today.
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