Mourinho and Arteta started their respective latest club careers within a month of each other. There was speculation the Portuguese would come to Arsenal – a post-modern George Graham for the 2020s.
Experience v promise.
But like the iceberg effect, there was a huge transformation underneath the surface needed at Arsenal following the managed decline (resting on laurels) and lack of-investment compared to rivals under Wenger and Kroenke for over more than a decade. And the Spaniard inherited a mishmash of Wenger and Emery players. Talking of which – if you persist in putting lots of crosses in – you need an Olivier Giroud.
Always thought an experienced manager like Ancelotti would be needed to steady the ship, after Wenger left rather than an Emery. It would have been easier for Arteta to take over from that base.
But one swallow doesn’t make a summer after this 2-0 North London derby defeat. And Arsenal should stick with Mikel, particularly with a window coming up – even though it is the worst league start for 45 years.
Arsenal dominated the second half in terms of control and possession. The obvious difference was the form of Kane and Son compared with Arsenal’s strikers.
Arteta persisted with Lacazette at number 10, following Thursday. Square peg in a round hole?
Holding came in for his second North London derby, Willian and Saka were on the flanks.
Alderweireld returned to the defence for Spurs, Lo Selso came into midfield and Kane was fit.
Arsenal should have expected an extra half a yellow card following research noting the differences between the effect of having crowds and not – with the away team suffering more at the hands of the ref with home crowds present.
Kane found himself in space and Xhaka dived across him recklessly, as is his wont. Dier sent the free kick over the bar.
Lacazette was fouled, Willian dinked it and from a scramble Saka fired over.
Tierney did well from a high ball and found Partey who shot well wide.
A defensive header went to Kane in midfield and virtually unchallenged he pushed it wide to Son. With no midfield cover, Holding backed off and bang – the South Korean curled it into the far corner of the net.
Saka looked a bit out of his depth, (could have been nerves) failing to develop three opportunities and losing Son at a defensive corner.
Partey broke forward and found Aubameyang who didn’t shoot but back-heeled it for Tierney to cross – to a Spurs head. The Gabonese looks shot – devoid of spark, drive, and confidence.
Partey, lost it to Lo Celso and Holding dived in to clear.
Bellerin put in a dreadful free kick – straight to a Spurs defender.
Willian, along with Aubameyang offered nothing in the first 40.
Lacazette, who was fighting for the ball, won a foul just outside the area. His free kick was headed away by Kane.
Bellerin had a good chance for a killer pass but failed to find Aubameyang, who didn’t seem interested in challenging for it.
Partey had to go off the field in pain, leaving Arsenal a problem on the counter with a 4 v 2. And with Son and Kane in the area – the inevitable happened and Kane shot it in off the bar.
Late Emery all over again.
Ceballos came on and started his probing passes and upped the tempo. Willian won a free kick which Saka took and Lacazette headed it on dangerously. Then Tierney sent one in for Aubameyang who headed it – unconvincingly over the bar. Bellerin send in a low cross after good work by Willian but Lacazette was on his heels. Tierney sent a long ball but Aubameyang couldn’t control it. The Scotsman crossed again. Willian killed it stone dead but hit it way over.
Bellerin was a danger to Arsenal in the attacks, losing the ball several times high up and – subject to quick turnovers and counterattacks. He was subbed for Nketiah on 75.
And so it continued, much like the Wolves match. Bellerin crossed and Lacazette headed goalward – but it was saved by Lloris. Tierney sent in yet another cross, but Saka couldn’t get any power onto the header. Lacazette had a chance with a cross that bounced up – but it went weakly wide.
Arsenal put in 32 crosses but had only two attempts on target, compared to Spurs three.
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Kane said: “It is what we set out for. We played well. The second half was a grind – didn’t they create too many clear-cut chances. The boys dug deep. There was a lot of defending from crosses. Everyone on the pitch is doing their bit.
“Arsenal played well and kept the ball well. It showed our defensive capabilities.”
Jose Mourinho said: “It was a big game, not just because it was Tottenham v Arsenal. Congratulations to Mikel. They made it a very difficult game building with 4 defending and attacking with 5 – it gave us problems. Their players had a tactical culture. Arsenal are a good team with a good coach.
“We scored two good goals and always looked solid. Without Tangy we were a bit short. We were making the changes to win it.
“I’m happy with the result and performance. But I want the team to play a different way in the second half. But your opponent forces you in a certain direction. But at 2-0 up I don’t want to take risks. Why expose the defensive lock if you don’t need to?
“Arsenal will be Arsenal again with Mikel.”
Mikel Arteta said: “This is football. They had one shot on target and got the second on the break – after Thomas got injured.
“I saw my team full of desire and passion – but it is the end it is end product. We have to carry on and keep fighting.
“Could have done better on the first one. They are really good at holding the first ball.
“On the second we were missing a man in transition.
“The way they [Arsenal] played – they never give up. It is not enough – not scoring a goal. We’ll keep working on deliveries. They [the goals] will come. It’s frustrating.”
Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilón, Sissoko, Højbjerg, Bergwijn (Substituted for Rodon at 90+1), Lo Celso (Booked at 41) Substituted for Davies at 72), Son Heung-Min (Substituted for Lucas Moura at 88), Kane
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerín (Substituted for Nketiah at 75), Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Willian, Partey Substituted for Ceballos at 45+2), Xhaka, Booked at 75), Saka, Lacazette (Booked at 80), Aubameyang