A late Toby Alderweireld header gave Tottenham a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the first men’s north London derby to be played at the new ground.
Alexandre Lacazette broke the deadlock with a rocket of a shot to open the scoring with just 15 minutes on the clock after dispossessing Serge Aurier, but Tottenham hit back almost instantly through Son Heung-min’s left-footed finish after some characteristically calamitous defending from Sead Kolasinac and David Luiz.
Arsenal began the second half strongly and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rattled the crossbar with a left footed drive just short of the hour mark but ultimately – and against the run of play – it fell to Toby Alderweireld to glance home from a Son corner in the 81st minute to send Spurs back above the Gunners in the table.
Key Talking Point
Jose Mourinho set his Spurs side up in a rarely used 4-4-2 formation, hoping to stifle Arsenal’s flying wing-backs, and it largely worked in the opening passages of play. Tottenham enjoyed plenty of the ball, and had the first chance when Lucas Moura fired straight at Emiliano Martinez. An Arsenal error slipped Harry Kane in moments later, but he couldn’t dink it over the Argentine either.
The away side had much more of the ball in the second half, but Mourinho instructed his side to sit deep and wait for the counter with Lucas Moura often sitting back as almost a fifth defender at times. They stayed in the contest until they won a crucial corner on 80 minutes, which Son delivered beautifully for Alderweireld to head home from. Mourinho through and through.
Starting XI: Lloris (7); Aurier (6), Alderweireld (7), Sanchez (7), Davies (6); Sissoko (7), Winks (6), Lo Celso (7); Lucas Moura (8), Son (8*), Kane (7).
Substitutes: Bergwijn (N/A), Skipp (N/A), Lamela (N/A).
Son was Tottenham’s main attacking threat for much of the match, with his pace, movement and directness stretching the Arsenal backline, particularly in the first half.
His calm and collected finish to equalise and his fantastic corner for Alderweireld’s winner acted as reminders of his importance to Spurs’ attacking plays, coming up trumps even as Harry Kane floundered alongside him.
Key Talking Point
Arsenal’s trio of centre-backs have looked alarmingly competent in recent games, covering for each other’s weaknesses while displaying the best of their own strengths – which, in Sead Kolasinac’s case, is actually his…strength.
It had to end at some point. Kolasinac was the main man responsible for the Spurs equaliser, pinging a pass to the next postcode over from Luiz, who himself was slow to react. Shkodran Mustafi escaped from that calamity unscathed, but had a torrid last half-hour as he threw himself to the floor time and again as if to remind Gunners fans of his own worst habits.
Starting XI: Martinez (8) ; Mustafi (6), Luiz (7), Kolasinac (6); Bellerin (7), Xhaka (7), Ceballos (7), Tierney (7); Pepe (7), Lacazette (8*), Aubameyang (7).
Substitutes: Saka (7), Willock (N/A), Nelson (N/A), Soares (N/A).
The French striker provided Mikel Arteta with a timely reminder of his quality with an excellent strike to break the deadlock.
Replacing the suspended Eddie Nketiah, Lacazette linked up well with his attacking partners and looked a threat for most of the evening, particularly when dropping into midfield to receive the ball from Dani Ceballos.
Tottenham travel to the north-east on Wednesday evening to take on Newcastle before a tasty home tie against Leicester on Sunday.
Arsenal host champions Liverpool in midweek, before a trip to Wembley on Saturday evening to take on Manchester City for a place in the FA Cup final.