A single goal midway through the first half was all it needed for Arsenal to bring Tottenham’s first defeat of the season at the Emirates. The Tottenham new boys were given a quick introduction to the intensity and energy of a north London derby and will be better prepared in the future.
Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Team: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Paulinho, Capoue (Sandro); Townsend (Lamela), Dembele (Defoe), Chadli; Soldado Subs: (unused) Friedel, Naughton, Holtby, Sigurdsson
Andre Villas-Boas selected the team which had defeated Swansea last weekend with new signing Erik Lamela on the bench which also included Sandro and Lewis Holtby who have recovered from injury.
Arsenal started brightly and had a couple of near misses from free-kicks by Carzola. The first was saved by Hugo Lloris and the second went agonisingly wide with Lloris stranded at the other side of the goal. After those early scares Spurs started to take control with their passing and movement. Tottenham’s greatest threat was coming from wide positions with Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker threatening on the right while Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose were equally troublesome on the left. Townsend used his pace to cut in and shoot with the goalkeeper getting down low to gather. Arsenal were constantly looking to counter-attack and after Spurs had been dominating the passing and possession inside their half, they broke in the 22nd minute and Walcott got free on the right to play the ball to the near post where Giroud got to the ball ahead of Michael Dawson.
The goal stunned Spurs who lost their composure on the ball and with Arsenal sitting back, defending in depth there was little opportunity to get forward to threaten the Arsenal goal. The first half continued to be lively but Spurs play was more ponderous than it had been and they were getting caught in possession as they couldn’t find a way through often resorting to shooting from distance or passing sideways or backwards. Lloris was the busier keeper and had to be alert to be out quickly to make a clearing tackle outside his area as Arsenal threatened to break clear.
The second half was more disjointed but Arsenal were quicker to the ball and more direct in their counter-attacks while Spurs continued to dominate possession. With 20 minutes to play Spurs introduced Erik Lamela on the right in place of Townsend but it was only in the final ten minutes that Spurs got some passion in their play and forced Arsenal back who were totally committed to defend their lead. In breaks Lloris came to Spurs rescue. Defoe had a shot deflected and saved by the goalkeeper and then Soldado had a shot blocked.
For all their effort in the final minutes Spurs couldn’t get the breakthrough leaving the Emirates disappointed but with their new signings having learned a valuable lesson on the pace, passion, endeavour and commitment required for the Premier League and a north London derby.
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