THE NORTH LONDON DERBY: 5 THINGS WE LEARNED
SRINIVAS SADHANAND AND ARNAV KHANNA | 27th September 2021
From an Arsenal blitz in the first-half, Aubameyang paying homage to Thierry Henry in the stands by re-creating his celebration and an embarrassing display by Spurs, the North London Derby had everything.
Here’s MTAG: More Than A Game on the 5 talking points from a derby that never ceases to surprise.
1. The Hale End is the best thing about Arsenal Football Club
Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe walked through the doors of the glorious Hale End academy at ages, 7 and 10. At 20 and 21 respectively, the same two wide-eyed kids with dreams in their eyes find their names on the scoresheet in the North London Derby.
Seeing Saka’s delicious pass slotted home by Smith Rowe, after a run straight from the Aaron Ramsey playbook was symbolic of the way the pair have carried Arsenal since their breakthroughs.
Just zoning on one of the princes of Hale End, can we talk about how comfortable ESR is as a left-winger? As the back of Smith Rowe’s shirt suggests- naturally, he is a No.10.
But the stunning one-two with Aubameyang, coupled with the dash down the left flank and a perfectly weighted cutback is an example of how this lad simply runs on autopilot.
The goal and assist make for great reading but the Croydon De Bruyne’s runs in behind and sharp movement down the flank are lessons for any modern day-winger, including a certain Nicolas Pepe.
And putting the boy burdened with glorious purpose in focus, as impeccably put by Ian Wright, a superb assist wasn’t enough for Bukayo on the evening.
A buzzing Emirates witnessed their starboy cap his 5-star performance with an ice-cold finish with his weak foot.
Fearlessness was the theme of Saka’s splendid performance- driving down the right flank, constantly taking on Reguilon in 1 v 1s and backing passing the eye-test with end product.
In times where Arsenal have had the world laugh at them, instead of with them, the prestige of Hale End still remains intact.
2. Mr. Levy, you should have sold Kane
I would call Harry Kane a shadow of his past self but even shadows have more of a presence than the Three Lions skipper did all game. Lethargic in attacking the box, sloppy in linking play up and overall, cutting a discombobulated figure on the ball, he choked a glorious chance around the hour mark to make matters worse.
Alan Shearer’s record could never be safer if this is how Kane is chasing it.
Look, there is no denying that Harry Kane is an outstanding footballer. But him being simple disinterested in the Tottenham project couldn’t be clearer, especially on a bright kick-off at the Emirates.
Daniel Levy should have swallowed his pride and sold him for triple digits when he could have.
Kane is rapidly entering the Zaha Zone. Moving beyond the point of peak value when the team could've flipped him for a fortune, but still no one willing to do a deal. https://t.co/jYi7L6os1Y
— Grace Robertson 🏳️⚧️ (@GraceOnFootball) September 26, 2021
In a win-win for all parties, Spurs would have the funds for a quality rebuild while Kane would have medals around his neck at Manchester City.
Instead, Levy is paying a price, both on and off the pitch for his stubborn ways.
3. A North London Derby special, courtesy of Martin Ødegaard
Presenting two facts, not opinions.
1) Arsenal won the North London Derby in the first-half.
2) Martin Ødegaard was the best player on the pitch.
It really is that simple.
First-class seats can’t give you the leg room an immaculate footballing IQ can, the way Ødegaard was finding acres of spaces. The Norwegian playmaker could look, stretch and proceed to stitch every Arsenal attack.
From first-touches with the precision of a Michelin Star chef to constantly picking the right pass and leading the press, this was humble pie for the ones that questioned why the Gunners re-signed him.
Intelligence and industry in abundance, Martin Ødegaard is the trademark modern-day hybrid between a No.8 and a No.10.
€30 million is peanuts when you possess this lad’s ceiling.
4. Nuno and Spurs is a big no-no
Tottenham fans heading towards the exit within half an hour should tell you all you need to know about Nuno Espirito Santos’s spell at Spurs. And it’s still early days.
This performance was so horrific that hope would seem delusional. What is even more apparent is that Nuno, who was on a downward trajectory in his final days at Wolves has not been able to revive himself at Spurs either.
Even in the depths of José Mourinho's reign, I never saw them play this poorly.
— Dougie Critchley (@DougieCritchley) September 26, 2021
Painfully dependent on transitions, it seems as if the only “plan” that Nuno possesses is hoping for a moment of magic from one of his front three.
Lucas Moura is his Adama Traore and even though the Brazilian has been the club’s best player this season, expecting him to burst past an entire Arsenal 11 while also linking play up to set Spurs forward is nonsensical.
Expecting any player in the history of the game to constantly do so would be. And if we’re being fair, barring the victory against City, Tottenham have been second best in every other league game.
Every facet of play is just so lackluster that one wonders whether it’s poor coaching or if the players have already downed tools. Either way, it seems as if another Portuguese manager will fall on Levy’s sword sooner rather than later.
5. Ramsdale is making the doubters eat their words
The apology needs to be as loud as the disrespect. Aaron Ramsdale was given up on the second he was linked to play for the mighty Arsenal.
4 starts in and the Gunners already have a song for their numero uno. Monstrous when called upon while allowing Arsenal to finally play out from the back, Ramsdale looks like an astute upgrade on Leno.
From a distribution standpoint, his long kicking was pinpoint, the composure on the ball was zen-like and gave the Arteta way the license to thrive.
The sign of a top ‘keeper is to be clutch, despite being untested in game where their side dominates. Ramsdale was that and more, with a stretch so long to keep out Lucas Moura, it deserved a knee slide and not just a celebratory high five with Ben White.
Stellar saves to keep Son and Kane out opened the detractors’ eyes to a repertoire of stops that vindicated one of the most slandered signings at the Emirates.