Arsenal 4 Tottenham 2
Arsenal produced their most inspiring display in a decade to overcome Tottenham yesterday and climb above their north London rivals into fourth spot.
The Gunners are now ahead of Spurs on goal difference and just a point behind Chelsea, who earlier in the day beat Fulham 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
It was a classic encounter at the Emirates, a match of breathtaking pace and non-stop drama that featured six goals, two penalties, one red card and a touchline scrap.
When the dust settled, Arsenal had stretched their unbeaten run to 19 matches and confirmed what the fans have been shouting for weeks – the old Arsenal is back.
Ozil not missed
Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revived what had been a moribund squad and it says a lot that he did it without Mesut Ozil, who wasn’t in the squad yesterday because of a back spasm.
No one epitomises the new-look Arsenal more than Lucas Torreira. The Uruguayan midfielder may not have Ozil’s touch but has a heart way bigger than the German’s. His man-of-the match performance included a goal – his first for the club – and it was fitting that he had the last word after his tireless contribution to Arsenal’s victory.
Emery was reluctant to single out any individual after such an uplifting performance, focusing instead on the collective will to win.
“They kept calm even when Spurs were winning,” said the Arsenal manager, praising his players’ “experience and character”.
Emery’s squad now travel to Old Trafford for Wednesday’s Premier League clash against Manchester United – and he has a warning for Jose Mourinho’s men. “I want to do more,” he declared. “I am already thinking [about] Wednesday in Manchester.”
Torreira managed to overshadow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored twice for the home side, including one from the penalty spot after Jan Vertonghen’s blatant handball.
Eric Dier cancelled out that goal with a glancing header from Christian Eriksen’s free-kick (which sparked a touchline scrap between Spurs players and Arsenal’s subs), and Harry Kane then gave Tottenham the lead with a penalty after Rob Holding’s clumsy lunge on Son Heung-min.
“After the first goal we conceded, we were a bit down,” said Aubameyang. “At half-time we spoke and knew we could do it. With the fans you feel strong, you go for the win.
“We did it – we came back… because we don’t give up. That is the mentality.”
Emery made the bold move to bring on Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey at the start of the second half, and his audacity was soon rewarded. The Welshman teed up Aubameyang for a sweet strike into the Tottenham net, and Lacazette then beat Hugo Lloris with the help of a slight deflection.
Torreira ended the stirring comeback with a cool finish on 77 minutes and there was still time for Vertonghen to see red when he hacked down Lacazette.
“I was disappointed with the goals we conceded,” said Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. “Of course, Arsenal deserve credit but we made many mistakes.”
What was a wonderful advert for the Premier League was unfortunately marred by one Tottenham fan, who threw a banana skin onto the pitch as Aubameyang celebrated his first goal.
Cameras caught the culprit, who was arrested by police. A Tottenham spokesperson said: “Behaviour such as this is completely unacceptable and the supporter in question will be issued with a ban.”
Premier League fixtures
Tuesday 4 December (7.45pm unless stated)
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Huddersfield Town
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Crystal Palace
- West Ham United vs. Cardiff City
- Watford vs. Manchester City (8pm, live on BT Sport)
Wednesday 5 December (7.45pm unless stated)
- Burnley vs. Liverpool
- Everton vs. Newcastle United
- Fulham vs. Leicester City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea
- Manchester United vs. Arsenal (8pm, live on BT Sport)
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton (8pm)