A Knee-Jerk Reaction to the North London Derby

north London Derby
during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on November 18, 2017 in London, England.

Are you as proud of the team as I am? If the answer is no, then please go somewhere else. Leading into the match today, there was talk from every which way that Hots*** are the new best team in north London. The infamous “power shift” debate has been broadcasted, streamed and shared for over a year now, despite there being a dearth of trophies won by Tottenham. Perhaps all those pundits who predicted a huge win for the bad guys will re-assess their position. Or maybe not. Either way, Arsenal just won the north London Derby, and that’s what fans want right now.

Arsenal Wins North London Derby

Foul? Offside? Doesn’t Matter

Almost a fortnight ago, in the wake of the defeat to Man City, some fans were crying out because of some bad refereeing. David Silva was not called offside, when he clearly was, and the penalty given away by Monreal was soft (even if it was technically a penalty).

So, there was one argument to be made that, despite the two-goal difference, the two teams were very well matched. Unfortunately, for us anyway, the truth was that the better side won.

So too did the better team win today.

Was Alexis’ shirt pulled enough to warrant a foul? Maybe, maybe not. Was Mustafi offside? By the length of one shoulder and about half a head, yes.

However, the decisions were left to the officiating staff, and they made the calls. It is also worth noting that just after the first goal, none of the Spuds gave the refs grief about it; the play was so close not even the defenders could tell Mustafi was (just) offside.

There was also the question of whether or not Lacazette was offside for goal number two. I’ve personally looked over the replay a few times, and he honestly looks level with the defender. Probably the most die-hard Tottenham fans will disagree, but if the shoe were on the other foot, likely I’d do the same.

The Better Team

Just like in the City loss, if we look at the whole scope of the game, we see that those decisions, while polarizing, may not have decided the match.

While Hots*** got four shots on goal, compared to our five, Petr Cech was really only tested once, that late header with about ten minutes left. The Czech keeper had to react quickly to bat the ball away, keeping his clean sheet.

Meanwhile, Arsenal had maybe one or two more chances than the stats would suggest. Alexis probably should have scored his late chance, Iwobi had a good look late, and if Bellerin had reacted faster he may have as well.

The Spaniard also nearly set up Lacazette while the scores were level, and the Frenchman was just inches from putting that one in.

The Balance of the Match

The team allowed the visitors to have possession, 58% in fact, but defended resolutely. Arsenal recorded 37 clearances and 17 tackles, not to mention keeping a clean sheet against a top rival.

There were some mistakes early on from the team, for example Koscielny’s misplaced header. However, they prevented the likes of Harry Kane and Delli Alli from keeping the pressure up.

Also, despite having only 42% possession, the Gunners did well to keep the ball in Tottenham’s half for long periods of time. They also didn’t get caught up playing Tiki-Taka-light like they did in Manchester.

The Gunners played plenty of long balls to catch the Spuds back line off-guard but did fall back on their passing game when needed. The front three also did a great job of making the opponent defenders uncomfortable, forcing at least two turnovers in the visiting half.

Overall, Wenger’s men disrupted the Spurs attack when needed, and got the goals when it counted.

Hard Work = Good Luck

As Gooners, we’re probably going to hear time and time again in the net week about how we were lucky to get the win, due to the bad call(s) from the referees. However, just like in the Man City defeat, the harder working team got the result.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I have.”

Today, even the want-aways were working hard, sweating for the glory of victory. They also showed restraint, like Ramsey not getting caught too far up-field, and found their clinical nature, as neither chance was straight-forward.

The team needs to forget about the lack-luster losses against Liverpool, Stoke and Watford. Instead, the boys will have to remember this day and remember that if they work hard the results will come.

Oh, and before I go. It’s my birthday today, so thanks Arsenal for giving me the best present ever!

Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images

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