The Fans and Other Takeaways from Tottenham Over Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Spurs Fans return to White Hart Lane for the first time in 277 days during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 6, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Spurs Fans return to White Hart Lane for the first time in 277 days during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 6, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus) /

Just how incredible the Tottenham Hotspur fans are is one of the major takeaways from a terrific North London Derby win over archrival Arsenal 2-0.

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC came in two teams headed in seemingly opposite directions and that trend continued as Spurs topped the Gunners Sunday afternoon. As Tottenham continued to demonstrate a patience off the ball few Spurs teams have ever had the limited fans allowed inside the south end of the stadium brought Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back to life. The wonderful pans and the commitment to the plot were just a couple of the positive takeaways from a great day for Tottenham Hotspur.

Three Points is All that Matters

Arlo White was commenting on Peacock during the game how interviewing Tottenham prior to the match was growing repetitive. It was not that Spurs do not have interesting players, rather it was the topics of conversation the players were consistently bringing up, which sound very much like those of their manager José Mourinho.

At this point it should be obvious to anyone paying attention to what is happening at N17 that all that matters is winning and getting the next three points. While no one comes out and gives the old “there is no ‘I’ in team” cliché, everyone compliments everyone, and it is always about the next game. What makes this important it is no longer just talk coming out of Hotspur Way.

We are seeing consistent efforts from much of the squad. It does not matter whether players are nailed on starters like Pierre Højbjerg and Heung-Min Son or squad players like Ben Davies and Lucas Moura. The players that play hard will play the most. If anyone saw Gareth Bale last week in Europe, he was doing a lot of defending and dirty work to go along with his offense. This is the same things we see Steven Bergwijn doing in the Premier League for Tottenham.

Keeping the same mentality, happily, on a day where many could have easily been dreaming of scoring more goals was critical. Mourinho mentioned after the game there was no need to really press and try to win the ball back. Of course, Spurs were playing Arsenal and if you think you might have a chance to run it up a bit, resisting is hard work.

Tottenham did not take the bait and lived with the two-goal lead and ultimately win. A less mature Tottenham team would have looked to put a few more past their rivals and opened themselves up to risk in the backend. Instead, everyone was happy with the three points and comfortable victory.

Plan B Works

At this point Tottenham have used the same basic strategy – with some minor tactical tweaks – for the last three Premier League matches. The basic idea has been to defend in numbers, as a team, while looking to strike quickly and in numbers on the counter. That strategy has been somewhat necessary given the nature of Spurs opponents.

Man-for-man on paper none of the teams Tottenham played were better, however, against teams as talented as Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal it is easy to get caught when you become more expansive as a team. Ultimately, teams that possession oriented want you to try play possession with them. They do this because 9 times out of 10 they are going to keep the ball more and you are going to get tired trying to get it back. Worst yet, when you possess the ball a lot against a quality team, sometimes giveaways occur in bad places. Those giveaways become goals and suddenly all that possession means nothing.

Instead of trying to beat those three teams at their own games, Tottenham found other ways to win, with smart defense and clinical attack. However, there are going to be times in the coming weeks where Tottenham are going to need to bring Plan A back out of the closet. You know the approach that demolished Southampton 2-6 and Manchester United 1-5 – both on the road.

That more expansive, more attacking Tottenham is there and will be seen again and like as soon as this week. However, in the meantime, it has been great to see that not only do Tottenham have a true plan B, but also that everyone has bought in and is executing on it. Great teams have more than one way to win and Spurs are showing that ability.

Tottenham Fans were Fantastic

They had on masks and there were only about 2,000 of them but the Tottenham Hotspur fans made some serious noise. Maybe it was the acoustics from the stadium with all the fans packed in the south end in the big single tier. Maybe it was the playing a rival. Or maybe it was the fact that these 2,000 folks were the first Tottenham fans back in the arena in about nine months.

Whatever the cause for the amazing sound coming from such a small group, we just hope it continues. Spurs fans were in full voice, bringing out the classics like the Moussa Sissoko chant. Maybe even more amazing than the singing and joy was just how long the fans stuck around. The fans were so amazing still well after the match concluded that Heung-Min Son was flabbergasted by the continued support.

2,000 fans are just a first step and it may be the only step for some time and of course some fans will be happy and others heartbroken, but everyone is in it together. It was great having some fans back, the sound on TV was amazing, as you could hear Mourinho, Lloris, and the joy of real fans cheering on their team. With fantastic fans back in the stands, a working plan B, and a team buying into what the coach is selling Tottenham are on track for something special.