There’s no day like derby day and no weekend like one in which you win the first match of the week against your bitter rivals. Except Arsenal didn’t just beat Tottenham, they controlled the game and dominated the stats sheet. The 3-1 win was completed after a screamer from Thomas Partey, a smart clean up from Jesus, and a sweeping low drive from Granit Xhaka.
To make it all more comprehensive, Arsenal had 65% possession, 22 shots, ~2.38 xG for Arsenal, ~0.75 npxG for Tottenham, triple the shots on goal for Arsenal, and roughly 80% field tilt in Arsenal’s favor (meaning 8/10 touches in a final third were done in Spurs’ defensive third by an Arsenal attacker).
If anyone put credence in the laughable notion that Arsenal’s success was simply born out of a fortuitous fixture list, they can put thought out of their mind. The idea that Arsenal would stumble against their first hurdles and be put in their place has been well and truly defeated, and the Gunners have clearly shown they deserve their plaudits after dismantling Conte’s irritating low block style of play.
The Gunners sit on top of the league for another week before welcoming a susceptible looking Liverpool to The Emirates. But first, on a day in which so many players played so, so well — let’s take a look at a few of the players that I qualified as “standouts” in today’s derby demolition.
Thomas Partey was my Man of the Match for Arsenal yesterday as he put on a complete performance, dominating Tottenham’s midfield and defense. Facing a compact low-block with the talent Spurs can afford makes breaking down the defense tough. Sometimes you need to offer a threat from long range to pull defenders out and stretch them. Partey stepped up to the call, slapped on the shooting boots and unleashed. It’s an absolute worldie of a strike and it couldn’t come at a better time. So often we have seen him put those into Row Z, but he struck this all too sweetly. No chance for being saved. Pick it out the net.
Today’s game plan will have come with extra emphasis on denying Spurs’ transition and not suffering a repeat of the United loss last month. The team was challenged, and the challenge was embraced and conquered. The whole team was better front-to-back in initiating the counter-press and denying the outlet ball to start the counter, but you have to say, Partey makes a HUGE difference routing out easy opportunities that squeeze through.
On top of raising Arsenal’s level in that department he tallies:
- – 1 goal
- – 4 create chances
- – 2 shots
- – 52/55 (95% passing)
- – 15 passes into final third
- – 3 interceptions
- – 7 recoveries
How long we’ve asked for midfield contributions to the attack in terms of goals and assists. Well they supplied it yesterday, bringing us to…
It’s starting to really feel like the best season of his career as Xhaka’s immense presence felt yet again at all level of the field. No contribution may feel as big his game-sealing goal in the second half, but he was once again crucial to Arsenal’s progression, counter-press, and attacking production.
- – 1 shot
- – 3 created chances
- – 1 goal
- – 6 recoveries
Arsenal’s two veteran midfielders dominate the North London Derby as they suffocate Hojbjerg and Bentancur in the center of the park, while both notching goals past Hugo Lloris to get all three points.
How many times can we say “composed, calm, consistent” for this guy before its just known? Well we are saying it again. The stakes were raised and Saliba called emphatically with a HUGE game. He stepped up and looked the best defender on the field and what’s best is he’s doing it on both sides of the ball and you have to say it would be worrisome at this point if he suffered an injury. He feels so pivotal to this team.
- 78 touches
- 67/70 (96%) passing
- 1/1 dribbles
- 6 passes into the final third
- 2/3 tackles won
- 3 clearances
- 11 recoveries
- 5/8 duels won
Some moments of disarray at the back as a team facing a potentially devastating counter attack, but Saliba was just an absolute ROCK. Take a bow son, take a bow.
Theres always room for his name in this list, but today he shined. Mentally switched on and on the front foot to get his goal. He could have scored a 2nd… and then 3rd. He is all-action all the time. Slaloming runs, physical play, he wins fouls, wins duels, and feels every bit as dangerous regardless of where he drifts. The way he gets on the ball, weaves his way into dangerous areas and creates. Or how he has such a knack and nose for finding that little pocket of space or seam. He’s starting to almost give Alexis Sanchez vibes, if Alexis could have played as a central striker week in and week out.
- Tied for the most tackles in the match
- Was the most fouled player in the match
- Won the most duels in the match
- 1 Goal
- 4 shots
- 7 duels won
- 2 recoveries
- 44 touches
WHAT. A. PERFORMANCE.
Are you surprised to see him here? He seems to be surprising a lot of people, but it’s hard to figure out how. Not that it’s surprising he’s performing well, but that he is performing this well and still flying under the radar and even receiving criticism. Maybe first impressions last considering he was a little slow off the blocks and people haven’t let it go, but for those that are slow to realize, he has been fantastic the last five matches and finds himself in the Premier League’s Top 10 in 10 different statistical categories.
Yesterday was no different. It didn’t come with a ‘bang’ nor did it glitter with a sparkling moment, but it was filled with effective play, even in the face of dedicated double and triple teams. Bukayo tallied 3 shots, including the shot that Lloris would spill for Jesus’ goal, 5 created chances, and 3/7 duels. His play was also crucial to stretching and breaking down the left side of Tottenham’s defense and his chemistry with an ever-growing and learning Ben White seems to get better and better by the week. As I said, that’s five straight great performances from a player that has a major role to play if Arsenal want to put together the complete season they have started.
Arenal’s next Premier League game comes at the Emirates against a susceptible looking Liverpool side. It won’t be a question of IF Arsenal will be in first place when that week starts, it will be a matter of BY HOW MUCH. What it would mean to this team to get something from that game, much less everything. For now, eyes turn toward Bodø/Glimt midweek.
Revel in the success, feel the clout of beating our rivals, and laugh in the face of anyone that ever tried to claim Arsenal would stumble at this “first” hurdle against a “real team”. The Arsenal are good and people better get used to it!
Checkout a few takeaways I labeled as worrisome from Arsenal’s win over Tottenham.