Arsenal’s away woes against the top six sides in the Premier League continued on Sunday night as they succumbed to a 1-2 loss at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite having a major chunk of the possession, Mikel Arteta’s side failed to carve out clear cut opportunities and eventually they shaded the game, handing a crucial win to Jose Mourinho’s forces.
Alexandre Lacazette put the Gunners in the driving seat with a fantastic long-range strike early on. But Arsenal’s lead lasted for barely two minutes as a misplaced pass from Sead Kolasinac allowed Son Heung-min to breeze past a backtracking David Luiz and dink it over the onrushing Emiliano Martinez.
Both sides began the second half on a better note, as Arsenal dominated the proceedings but Tottenham sat deep to keep them at bay. As the game headed towards the end, it seemed like the two sides would share the spoils, but Toby Alderweireld had other ideas.
He leapt the highest to caress home a well-taken corner to put Spurs ahead with just nine minutes remaining in the regulation period, and if not for Martinez’s brilliance between the sticks, the home side could have run away with the contest.
Jose Mourinho’s men hung on to move two points above their north London rivals into eighth place on the Premier League standings.
That being said, here are five major talking points from Tottenham’s narrow victory over Arsenal.
1) Arsenal could be without no European football for the first time in 25 years
After their latest setback, the Gunners’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Europa League look extremely slim.
They haven’t played in the Champions League since 2017, and after a chaotic 2019-20 campaign, they could very well miss out on European football altogether for the first time since 1995-96.
Arsenal were knocked out of this season’s Europa League by Olympiacos earlier in February, and the defeat to Tottenham puts them in a tight spot in the Europa League race. Although they can still qualify for the Europa League by winning the FA Cup, it is highly unlikely as the Gunners face Manchester City in the semi-finals.
2) Tottenham’s win not attractive, but certainly effective
For large parts of the second half, Spurs were pinned back in their own half, as Arsenal tirelessly moved the ball around left, right and centre.
For all their efforts, the Gunners failed to trouble Hugo Lloris, barring a thunderous shot from their skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which struck the woodwork but didn’t go in.
By contrast, Tottenham looked far more comfortable and capable of hurting the visitors on the break. They played exactly according to the Jose Mourinho blueprint, and it paid off spectacularly.
3) Gunners improving under Mikel Arteta but there’s a long way to go
For major parts of the 90 minutes, Arsenal had the game by the scruff of the neck. They dominated possession and looked far more comfortable on the ball – the only positives from their derby defeat – but despite that, they left a lot to be desired.
Mikel Arteta has the Gunners playing attractive and offensive football but they are still prone to momentary lapses in concentration. A game of football can be won, or lost, in a matter of minutes and Spurs made good use of the few chances that they had on Sunday night.
There is steady progress since the day Arteta took over at the Emirates, and although they have a long way to go, patience is the need of the hour for Arsenal fans.
4) Jose Mourinho masterclass: Tottenham boss far from finished
Let’s be honest, the Portuguese tactician has had his fair share of critics, but that’s never really bothered him, and judging by the way he set up his team against Arsenal, despite playing at home, you have to say that the man has got some courage.
Tottenham are starting to resemble a classic Jose Mourinho team, disciplined without the ball, but hungry on the breakthrough.
Spurs looked dangerous every time they countered, and that’s how Mourinho earns his bread and butter. After the recent struggles against Sheffield United and Bournemouth, Mourinho managed to mastermind a statement victory, proving to all his haters that he’s far from done just yet.
5) Arsenal and erratic defending – A love story better than twilight
After a decent few games lately, Arsenal’s defensive woes came back to haunt them again, much to the frustration of their young manager and all the Gooners across the globe.
They have seen it all from Shkodran Mustafi’s mistakes to David Luiz’s madness, but Arteta cannot go shopping to replace all his error-prone defenders at the same time, and it seems he might have a tough job on his hands.
William Saliba might help put a band-aid on the wound, but it goes without saying, Arsenal need a surgical procedure to fix their Achilles heel.