How Unai Emery won a rocking North London derby

Emery 4 Pochettino 2

Aubameyang 10(pen) Dier 30 Kane 34(pen) Aubameyang 56 Lacazette 74 Torreira 77


I thought both managers picked the wrong team.

One changed it radically at half-time.

Early on Aurier got angry when the ball ran under his foot, so he chased and tripped Auba, who was going nowhere, thus conceding a free-kick taken by Xhaka.

When Mustafi went up for the header, Vertonghen inexplicably lifted his arm and touched the ball with his hand,

Aubameyang took the penalty and scored in style.

The team without Aurier was 1-0 up.

But when Sokratis clattered Son to concede a free-kick at the other end, Eriksen whipped in a free-kick from the left flank and Dier headed down at the near post for 1-1. Leno would have saved that header if he wasn’t terrified of his steel post. Many keepers are, especially Lloris and Cech.

When Son raced into the box, leaving Bellerin for dead, Holding reached him with a covering sprint and made slight contact,. The South Korean had lost control of the ball but his collapse-dive deceived Mike Dean and Harry Kane banged in the penalty.

When Xhaka fouled Dele out wide, Kane took the free-kick and Leno tipped over

Arsenal 1 Spurs 2 after 34 minutes.

Co-commentator Gary Neville said, “It’s the most exciting 35 minutes of Premiership football I’ve seen for a long time.”

At half-time Sky pundit Graeme Souness was loving a feisty game but I missed his comments because my best friend Doug phoned and said, “This situation is a real test for Arsenal.”

My reply: “Emery is an interventionist manager. If he doesn’t like what he’s seeing, he changes it. He might even bring two players on at half-time.”

He hooked Iwobi and Mkhitaryan, started the second half with Lacazette and Ramsey.

In 56, Bellerin found Ramsey’s run with a raking forward pass and the Welshman cut the ball back into the D and Aubameyang smashed it into the net for 2-2.

What a goal! A Goal of the Season contender? 

In 74, the imbecilic Aurier threw the ball back to centreback Juan Foyt and the kid panicked and lost the ball to Ramsey, whose quick pass found Lacazette, who was hyper-aware of all the angles and possibilities.

Wanting to shoot with his left foot, Laca cutely allowed the ball to roll past him. But as he swivelled he slipped and hit a left foot shot that deflected off Dier’s shin and skidded just inside the post.

Arsenal 3 Spurs 2 in 74 minutes.

After that Arsenal moved the ball up to the left corner flag, then worked it slowly backwards and across the pitch until Auba suddenly produced a sublime assist by sliding the ball beyond Vertonghen and into the run of tiny Lucas Torreira, whose low shot beat Hugo Lloris for 4-2.

Torreira’s first goal completed a rocking victory that lifted Arsenal to fourth place on goal difference.

VERDICT : A thrilling game with three goals in the first half, three in the second, and a tactical masterclass by Unai Emery, who stymied his friend Mauricio Pochettino. His subs have made or scored 15 goals this season – and it’s only December 4th. While Arsenal moved in clusters, Spurs were too spaced out, too far from each that when Arsenal hunted like a pack of wolves, Spurs lost the lead and the plot.

Veteran Jan Vertonghen seemed to stop caring and became the first Spurs player to be sent off this season. During the match I thought I’d had never seen him play so badly but later realised that their whole back four was appalling.

Thanks to Ivan Gazidis for bringing Unai Emery to the club.

He’s rapidly created a vibrant and ruthless new Arsenal with plenty of spirit and firepower. His football is a squad game where no player is untouchable, no selection is automatic, and everyone is accountable for every performance.

AT LAST!!! Someone has shaken up the Colney Creche and turned it into workshop where things are being learned every day. That’s why Arsenal are unbeaten in 19 games.

In his first North London derby Unai Emery had done what he does best: turn a football match upside down with a lethal switch.

Maybe Vertonghen thought Poch had picked the wrong team? If Davinson Sanchez is not fit to play right centreback, surely the manager has to select Toby Alderweireld, who has partnered Vertonghen since they were sixteen year olds at Ajax.

Serge Aurier is an accident waiting to happen and Juan Foyth is too immature to play alongside Aurier.