Arsenal claimed bragging against Tottenham in the North London Derby on Sunday as goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka secured a magnificent 3-1 win.
The big call before kick-off in this crunch Premier League tie centred around a certain Swiss midfielder. Back from suspension and recovered from COVID-19, Mikel Arteta thrust Granit Xhaka straight back into his starting lineup.
He partnered Thomas Partey in midfield while the only change from the recent win over Burnley saw Nicolas Pepe make do with a spot on the bench. As expected, Aaron Ramsdale started in goal.
A controlled start from Arsenal just got better as soon as the Spurs press was broken. Bukayo Saka did some lovely work down the right before feeding the onrushing Emile Smith Rowe who stroked the ball home.
Arsenal player ratings vs Tottenham as Mikel Arteta’s side win the North London Derby 3-1 with goals from Smith Rowe, Saka and Aubameyang
An exhilarating counter-attack from Arsenal was superbly worked by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Smith Rowe, with the latter feeding the captain who fired into the far corner to make it two.
Harry Kane then got in on the act as he assisted Saka for the third, having given the ball away in Arsenal’s half before then feeding his England teammate once more in his own box.
The second half saw a much more reserved Arsenal as Spurs took control of possession, with Kane twice coming close to getting his side back into the game. Aaron Ramsdale saved superbly from his low and then he poked wide when played through.
Son Heung-min pulled one back for the visitors with 12 minutes to go to set up a nail-biting finish, one that will surely have been watched through fingers. However, Arsenal held firm and secured three essential, and glorious, points.
Arsenal Goalkeeper & Defenders Ratings
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 8/10 – There was a really hairy moment in the build-up to the second goal that was his only mistake of the game, with his pass to Xhaka far too short before the Swiss bailed him out.
He made one fine save from Son Heung-min and a second from Kane, and his delivery was otherwise strong.
What. A. Save. At. The. End.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB) – 9/10 – Winning every aerial duel, header or challenge, Tomiyasu put in a majestic performance for someone still new to this league. Athletic, dogged, proactive and unrelenting.
A colossal performance.
Ben White (CB) – 8/10 – Some of his balls out from the back were exceptional. He was calm in possession, structured out of it and found his man excellently as Spurs sought to cover lanes into the midfield duo.
Did get lucky in the second half, however. That looked like a penalty.
Gabriel (CB) – 9/10 – Just like his partner, Gabriel fed some excellent passes into feet and through the lines all afternoon. In the air he didn’t give anyone a sniff and there were some crucial blocks and tackles throughout.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 8/10 – Fought for every ball down the left flank and his communication with Smith Rowe was absolutely spot on. The pair moved at the right times, attacked in sequence and defended in accordance to the opposition’s shape. Some of his recovery tackles were excellent.
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