For the first time in 22 years, Tottenham Hotspur have guaranteed finishing above their North London neighbours. (Not that Mauricio Pochettino or the players care. The fans will, however).
Pochettino’s side started in lightning fashion as they were the first to try their luck when Harry Kane shot straight at goal, but could only find Petr Cech. With only five minutes played, the home side were at it again when Toby Alderweireld’s header went just over the bar from a corner.
Arsenal finally got into the game when Kieran Gibbs was played in by Alexis Sanchez. He [Gibbs] was thought to have been fouled by Hugo Lloris in the box, but referee Michael Oliver thought otherwise. Did I think it was a penalty? I’ll just say that if Arsenal were given a penalty at that point, it would be very harsh on the side going for the title.
Tottenham continued to threaten as Ben Davies could’ve put his side in the lead, but only found the side netting. The closest chance so far went to Tottenham yet again as they dominated the first 20 minutes or so. Harry Kane and Dele Alli combined to attempt to separate the sides, but still, the net wasn’t rippled.
It began to look as if everytime Tottenham came forward, they would go on to score. They made another glorious chance when Christian Eriksen missed a great opportunity to put his side into the lead after a cross from Son Heung-Min after he got the better of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Honestly, I thought that at this stage, Pochettino’s side could well have been five, or six-nil up! How the score was STILL 0-0, I will never know!
Arsenal put their first shot on target on the board when Aaron Ramsey fired his effort straight at Lloris and their second shot came when Alexis Sanchez forced Lloris to make a save.
The deadlock was STILL yet to be broken going into the break when Jan Vertonghen forced Cech to make a save.
(Apologies for the lack of Arsenal perspectives, there were just too few positives to write about thus far).
If you want to find any positives, it could be said that Arsenal were resilient, and stood firm despite the onslaught.
The second half started in pretty much the same fashion as the first half did as Victor Wanyama was the first to threaten, but saw his effort tipped over the bar by Cech. Son missed another opportunity to break the deadlock as he saw his effort hit the side netting. Surely something had to give, right?
Well, at least Harry Kane could be called upon to break the deadlock, right? Wrong. His effort fell straight to Cech, who made light work of grasping onto the ball.
With six minutes gone of the second half, Olivier Giroud was the next recipient to attempt to break the deadlock, but saw his effort fly over. At this point, you’d have thought that this could as well be one of the best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint) 0-0 draws.
The deadlock was finally broken when Alli put his side in the lead. Arsenal could’ve done more to prevent that though, but I wouldn’t dismiss Cech’s braveness in coming out to make a block shortly before the deadlock was broken.
Within seconds of the first goal, the home side were awarded a penalty when Gabriel was adjudged to have fouled Kane in the area. Looking at replays, I didn’t feel it was a penalty and Kane seemed to go down easily. But nevertheless, up stepped Kane to put his side further in the lead, which he did. Cech was in no mans land for the penalty.
Arsenal did all they can to stay in the game as chances from Giroud and Sanchez could only find Lloris’ hands.
The likes the Alerweireld and Vertonghen pressured Cech as they attempted to extend their side’s lead even more. Cech made a class save for the latter.
There were chances from both sides as Arsenal looked to claim an unlikely draw and Tottenham vied to pile on the pressure. 2-0 is how it finished as the home fans celebrated a finish above their rivals for the first time in 22 years.
Thoughts on the game
Despite missing the match due to personal commitments, I managed to catch highlights and seeing that, I’m wondering how more goals weren’t scored. For a game with that much tempo, that deserved to have at least seven, or eight more goals, if not nine!
Am I bothered about Tottenham finishing above Arsenal? Not really. It had to happen at some point, right? Also, given the season Arsenal have had, they didn’t really deserve anything more than a top four spot. So, as for St. Totteringhams Day, that’s been shelved for a season.
It doesn’t get any easier for Arsene Wenger side, as they host Manchester United next weekend in what is a crucial game for both sides, especially as Arsenal have a game in hand. As for Tottenham, they play West Ham away as they continue to push Chelsea all the way.
Feature image credit: ctwino