Arsenal 2-2 Spurs (Heart 0-1 Head): Fair result in fiercely-fought NLD [Incl. Player Ratings]

Us 2-2 Them

Emirates Stadium, September 1, 2019


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So it ended all square vs. the Scum.

Despite some apparent faults at Spurs with Pochettino, Eriksen, et al, we weren’t able to capitalise and get the win.

I feel a draw here was fair, in honesty.

The narrative from some fans was that it would be light work, and we’d easily dispatch them.

However, Spurs (especially in the first half) stepped up and capitalised on some defensive weaknesses.

Overall, I have mixed feelings, based on:


  • Guendouzi




His short and long passing, as well as his energy and pressing,  were top-notch.

He is still young, and considering he came from Ligue 2 in France to the position he is in now is remarkable.

He is developing and growing all the time – and he will be a star in the future at this rate. His assist for Auba’s goal was outstanding, depicts his increasingly expansive game.

It cannot be long before he is in the full international French squad, and without hyperbole, he is looking akin to Vieira. If he continues on this trajectory, he has a chance to match him in quality and legacy.


  • Pepe



A fading hero and a new hero?


He was bright in parts, and was a constant threat on their left-hand side.

A goal should come very soon, and his assist for Lacazette’s goal was well-executed.

He wasn’t outstanding, but was a constant threat on the Spurs left-side.


  • Defensive calamities


Uncharacteristic from Leno


The game hinged on this factor, and both Leno and Xhaka cost us in the first half.

The move for their first had some other errors between Sokratis and Xhaka, but Leno didn’t handle a shot from Lamela well enough. Eriksen was in the right place at the right time, and they were 1-0 up.

What frustrates me in this capacity is that it’s the same mistakes as always.

We don’t seem to be learning, and is there any real accountability for these errors?

Who knows?

But regarding accountability, Xhaka stupidly slid in on Son and Kane (despite being muted largely in the game) dispatched the resultant penalty well.

After many years, and under both Wenger and Emery, we still possess a self-destructive complex.

If we’re to achieve this season, then we need to cut it out. It seems it’s almost cultural and endemic in our club, which is never right.

This complex is costing us, and it’s seriously hampering us almost game after game.


  • Formation and midfield configuration



Divey Alli didn’t disappoint….


When I first saw the line-up, I had no issue with it. Some fans were not content, given the midfield of Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira. I can now see why this was so. We lacked edge and creativity in the first half, and they didn’t really press them well enough.

This allowed Spurs to counter-attack well, and both of their goals stemmed from this.

Ceballos should have started, and largely for his better mobility and technique.

Emery made up for it in the end, but then it should have been utilised properly from the off.


  • Granit Xhaka



Serious considerations must be made on Xhaka’s tenure at the club


I don’t see what he really offers to our side.

I genuinely don’t.

Yes, his long-range passing is great. He’s also not a DM, but a regista, whose key skill is to create play and chances from deep areas. He does possess some fight, and aggression, which can be key midfield traits. But this perhaps leads to him being a cost more than a boon.

And we haven’t utilised his strengths as a regista well enough since he joined us in 2016.

However, he always makes mistakes. And key mistakes that cost goals or games.

How long will this continue? How long can it be permitted to continue?

He’s a poor player for this reason alone, and we need players with an appropriate concentration level.

Footballers are human beings. And thus they are prone to making errors – who in this world is without fault or flaw? But the amount of penalties that he’s conceded in his time here has been woeful.

And surely this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Or the camel has died and it’s just a pile of bones now, or a smelly and decomposing carcass……. It must so, given the quantity of gaffes he’s caused.

It’s unlikely that he will leave before the UEFA-wide window shuts. But I don’t see how he can contribute much more. And perhaps the time for redemption has gone also. He would have to go a LONG time without causing further errors, that’s for sure.

Either way, he did improve somewhat in the second half, but for me this is immaterial.

He cost our side again – and like Mustafi he is way too much of a liability in this context.

This alone is a sobering comparison to make – and it lends really to our scouting and appraisal of players’ temperaments and attributes.



Player ratings


Leno – 5

Maitland-Niles 7

Sokratis 6

Luiz 6

Kolasinac 6

Guendouzi 9

Torreira 5

Xhaka 1

Pepe 7

Lacazette 7

Aubameyang 7

Ceballos 7

Mkhitaryan 4

Emery – 5 – The initial line-up was fine, but the utilisation of players wasn’t. Arsenal lacked creativity in the first half, and this in my view cost us ultimately. He did rectify this, but then he dug himself out of a self-imposed hole.

Man of the match






He is fast emerging as a prime prospect, and his game is growing in intensity and control.

Final thoughts


  • Emery’s initial line-up wasn’t on point.
  • Spurs counter-attacked well, as they realised that our defence was weak.
  • Lacazette’s goal, or more specifically the time of it, changed the complexion of the game.
  • We lacked the cutting-edge in the second half to kill it off.
  • A draw was perhaps fair, as whilst we dominated, Spurs with their fewer chances had some high-quality opportunities.
  • Defensive errors MUST be curtailed, as we cannot continue with this continuous Achilles Heel.
  • Pepe and Ceballos can both be top players for us.
  • Spurs have some real diving c-u-next-Tuesdays….I’m looking at you Kane and Alli……

Is there a need for this? Maybe there is a correlation between diving and not having won anything…

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3 Responses to Arsenal 2-2 Spurs (Heart 0-1 Head): Fair result in fiercely-fought NLD [Incl. Player Ratings]

  1. Graham September 2, 2019 at 1:42 pm #

    The defender had his hands on Kane thus ran a huge risk .

  2. Gunnerpete September 2, 2019 at 3:36 pm #

    Good article but lacks foresight. The missing 75% of our defence should have been emphasised from day one. Emery thought he could plug the gaping holes with old experience, Sokratis and Luiz plus Nacho .it may have worked in 1952 with old Joe Mercer but them days AFC always had a defence. Since our fab five retired AW empire fell apart. George Graham a great forward created the hardest team to beat and the theme was ‘ don’t concede and you don’t lose’. Arsene created the invincibles mainly because he had the best ever midfield and forward one. I forecast that with Holding, Bellerin, Thierney and Mavropanos back we ill surge up the table and challenge the current top two. Emery nearly gave the spuds a victory with his shocking selection, again ! If he cocks up when we have our full squad back he will be on a cliff edge. Pépé will be a massive hit especially when the supply to him is class. Can’t wait .

  3. Victor Thompson September 3, 2019 at 10:40 am #

    I am delighted to say that Guendouzi was most peoples`s man of the match. I have previously cautioned some fans who were trumpeting his skills because he had a lot of faults caused by naivety and lack of experience. I did say though that he was a future star in the making. If he produces this quality of performance regularly, then I would have to say that we have a star already.

    Lacazette was very close behind him. I think Wrighty would have been the only player that we have had apart from Laca who could have scored that goal. It was a cocktail of speed, determination, close ball control and sublime skill in a confined space to marvel at. The deadly trio of Auba, Pepe and Laca announced that they are in business and had it not been for leno`s mistake and Zhaka`s customery brainstorm, we would have won the game hands down. I don`t share Marble Halls opinion that a draw was a fair result.

    We scored two spectacular goals which were the product of two examples of extreme skill for which they deserved their rewards. Spurs goals were two gifts which were down to luck for them and bad play for us.

    On top of the fact that we played some smooth and clever football which Spurs could not contend with. Kane became “Dirty Harry” when he resorted to diving because he did precious little else for his team other than to say “Thank you very much Mr. Zhaka” I mentioned last season that he had developed a technique of getting in front of a defender, particularly when jumping for a high ball, and a split second before contact, he backed into him and fell forward pretending he had been pushed. We conceded a lot of fouls like that. I think referees are onto his cheating because it was an instant decision by the ref. to wave play on and ignored Kane`s protest.

    What I didn`t understand was if it is accepted that Kane`s Superman Act was not a foul but he tried to get one ( his screaming confirmed that ) then why was he not booked?

    It pains me to give credit to Spuds players but for several years now I did envy them for having Harry Kane, but I think that his best days are behind him. He has very heavy legs, which is where he gets his powerful shots from but unfortunately for him it takes strong muscles to carry those legs. Harry is not getting any younger and his speed has dropped noticeably. The Erikson problem will not go away and Deli Ali is well off form. Sanchez and Sinnoko are poor players and Rose is injury prone and a bit of a hothead, so all in all when we have Holding and Thierney available and Chambers is given a chance to cement the performance he provided at Newcastle, I believe that we have a better squad of players than Utd. Chelsea and Spurs so we should be capable of third place this year.

    One reservation though, is that Emery needs to improve his selections and his tactics. We need a solution to the mistakes we keep making in defence, but we also need to realise that we have three flair players as good as anyone in our attack and he needs to allow them room to demonstrate what they can do. It would be a mistake to bridle them to suit a more mechanical brand of football.

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