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Three things we learned from Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal

Arsenal Tottenham Premier League Tactical Analysis

Arsenal went to Tottenham (Wembley actually) and put on an impressive display that left many of its faithful with the feeling they’d lost the match rather than drew. That’s a good thing.

In the waning years of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, the North London Derby became a match of dread because we just didn’t know what to expect from his sides at the time. With Emery, the unknown still exists but to a lesser extent not about the angst and more about what he was going to do, not having been through these matches before.

The result was OK. It should’ve been better. Chances were hard to come by, but Lacazette and Auba had chances to put the match away while the home side was left with minimal clearcut chances.

With the match behind us and all attention on next week’s tie, what did we learn from this? Well, here are the three things we learned from Tottenham 1 – 1 Arsenal.

Anthony Taylor’s really bad day

Being a referee is one of the loneliest jobs in the world because almost no one ever agrees that you had a good day. Sadly, Anthony Taylor really didn’t have a good day.

It seemed Taylor was intent on not being the main story and tried to let the match play. Letting fouls go unchecked for either side. However, by doing so he let the match get out of his hands and lost it on the really big calls of the day.

Sure, you can argue that Lucas Torreira should’ve seen red. You can clearly argue against it too. But if you are going to argue for the red card, then you have to argue that Danny Rose’s stud’s up slide into Leno’s chest, should equally have seen a player sent off.

But it wasn’t and without any kind of understanding a player who should’ve been off only got a yellow and was allowed to carry on. It would’ve been a defining moment in the match especially with 20 minutes in the match and Arsenal up 1-0.

Then there is the whole issue of which came first, Harry Kane being offside or Shkodran Mustafi nudging him in the back for a penalty call. Yes, Mustafi was boneheaded but he actually played Kane correctly.

He played Kane into the offside position and then went and blew it all with one of his blunders. However, the debate is whether or not the offside or Mustafi’s blunder should’ve been called first.

FIFA’s Laws of the Game define a player being offside as the following:

A player is in an offside position if:

  • He is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.

Elements of the offside rule include whether or not a player is “active” in play. Again, from FIFA:

Active play:

  • Interfering with play
  • Interfering with an opponent
  • Gaining an advantage

Kane is clearly active in the play, as the whistle blows he is moving as the ball is kicked. He is, therefore, gaining an advantage in the play by being ahead of the defender, in this case, Mustafi.

What this all shows is that the law is clearly misunderstood and is open to interpretation. However, for a moment let’s assume that Kane wasn’t offside first, how does it ignore the other three Tottenham players who were ALSO offside?

Arsenal Tottenham Premier League Tactical Analysis

How many offside players can you find in this picture

Look the fact is this, it was a bad day for Taylor and for all his desire to not influence the match, he did. However, it also shows that had Arsenal finished their chances and opportunities, Taylor wouldn’t have been an issue.

Misfiring forwards

How many times in the box with no body on him would you expect Alexandre Lacazette to miss? Chances are not many times.

The man is as clinical a finisher as we’ve had at Arsenal for a while. But there is not doubting the two chances – one guilt-edged – that he missed that could’ve put the match away.

The first chance was the least likely of the two. Coming in the second minute, Iwobi cuts inside and sees Lacazette run the gap between the two defenders. With a lovely chip and an excellent run, Lacazette tries to hit the ball first-time into the far corner. In the end, he scuffs it with his left foot.

The second was worse though. With Monreal receiving the ball on an overlap from Iwobi, Lacazette finds himself alone in the box without a single defender on him. The crackback pass comes from Monreal and you’d think Lacazatte drives it in.

Sadly, he opens up his body and with a weak ankle on the shot, guides the ball wide to the right. It was about as easy a chance as you could want in a game like this. It wouldn’t seem so bad (OK yes, it would) if the equally-as-clinical Aubameyang didn’t have his own issues as well.

The penalty-kick he took, you just felt he’d miss. Nothing in his approach or body language suggested a player who looked comfortable taking that kick and maybe in hindsight, he shouldn’t have.

But that’s what strikers want to do. They want the ball and they want to score. So, he took it and shot it to low and to close to the diving Lloris.

We’ll ignore Jan Vertonghen making a defensive stop on the rebound because he was a good five yards in the box as the penalty-kick was taken giving him a head start to beat Auba to the ball. Still, a more confident striker probably beats Vertonghen to the ball and scores it.

Emery gets it right

This blog has been openly critical of Emery and his approach. Three weeks ago, this team looked adrift and lost and likely sliding out of the top-four picture. They needed a performance this weekend to keep their hopes alive and they got one.

A manager/coach is tasked with insuring his team are set up in a way that gets the best out of them on the matchday. Some of us had been questioning whether Emery was doing that when he was setting up his team and they played abjectly and negatively.

Saturday, however, the strategy to let Tottenham have the ball worked as every one of Arsenal’s players committed to the defensive roles they were required to. Even defending deeply in their own zone, a source of consternation for many an Arsenal fan, came off perfectly.

The only two clear-cut chances they got, outside of the Kane penalty, came late in the game and immediately after each other as Leno was forced into a fantastic double-save.

Emery had his team committed to the strategy and got stellar performances from everyone he needed. It was a performance that should’ve gotten a positive result but alas, didn’t. Still, it kept our top-four hopes alive and that’s all we can ask at this point.


Aaron Ramsey loves Wembley. He better hope Juve play some matches there because he will absolutely shine. He was everything we needed him to be on Saturday and he showed that even though he is leaving us, that performing isn’t an issue for him.

Whether it’s an FA Cup, Community Shield or league play, Aaron Ramsey loves to score at Wembley and it’s nice that in his last North London Derby, he did it again. We’ll miss that Welsh lad, I’m just glad we saw that goal from him (and that passion).

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