5 Things We Learned: Arsenal v Spurs

The first North London Derby of the Emery era was a pulsating affair as Arsenal came from behind to score three goals in the second half to clinch the win. The Gunners trade places on the table with Spurs to move to fourth place, level on points but ahead on goal difference.

The game had everything – beautiful goals, a cheating opposition who got what they deserved and even a touchline spat involving the players. Here are 5 things we observed in the 4-2 win against Spurs.


When the team sheet was announced, many raised an eyebrow to the return of the back three and the omission of Mesut Ozil. All that was forgotten once the match started. Arsenal came out all guns blazing, swarming Spurs players high up the field and never giving them a moment to breathe.

Concerns about poor defenders were gone as everyone took up that responsibility from front to back. The front 3 set the tone well for the rest of the team as they never stopped running and created many turn overs to trouble the Spurs backline. Torreira’s hard running was inspiring and even Kolasinac was putting in a solid defensive shift. Spurs struggled to match Arsenal’s pace and Arsenal went ahead deservedly through a coolly taken penalty.


Arsenal did drop their intensity midway through the first half which culminated with Spurs gaining a foothold in the game and scoring two (questionable) goals. I hope Emery shows this game during his post-match video analysis to remind the players of the importance of sustaining their focus and intensity. If they play at full potential, they might finally just be able to enter half time with the lead for the first time this season. No better time to start than against United on Wednesday night.


Arsenal let Spurs back into the game in the first half when they slowed down the game. This led to a few nervy moments when the Gunners’ backline reverted to the porous defence we’ve come to know this season.

However, there were elements of luck in each goal. Replays showed that Dier was marginally offside for the first goal though Leno could have done better to protect his near post. Son looked threatening on the counter but the supposed foul that gave away the penalty was actually a dive. Any contact by Holding on Son was minimal at best but the Korean winger made the most of it to deceive the ref.


In his first interview, Emery spoke about being a “protagonist” and taking the initiative to win every game. Even by his standards, his two half time substitutions to bring on Ramsey and Lacazette seemed radical.

Iwobi and Mkhitaryan did a decent job in the first half, especially in the first 20 minutes, and I thought that they’d be given until the 60th minute to get Arsenal back into the game. They were also more natural playmakers than the two substitutes and I thought they could have created more for Aubameyang.

However, the substitutes did not disappoint. They added energy and helped the team press even harder to wrestle back momentum. Ramsey notched 2 assists (one from pressing Foyth on the half way line) and Lacazette scored the third goal to put Arsenal back in front.


Despite their lack of playmaking nous, their hard work to create turn overs was crucial in creating those chances – reminiscent of Jurgen Klopp explaining that the true playmaker in a high pressing system was the system itself.


Arsenal are now the “highest scoring second half team” in the league having scored the most goals (24) in the latter half of matches. This could be a testament to tactical changes and improved fitness that have helped the Gunners move up gears as the game progresses.

They still need to work on the first half performances but opponents now know that Arsenal will give them a tough game right until the end.


Surely Aubameyang has done enough to be the lead striker if he carries on playing with this intensity and keeps the goals coming. Usually quite peripheral in the physical battle, he joined up with his supporting attackers to harry the Spurs backline and led the line well.

His taking of the penalty showed that he was ready to take responsibility for the team but the highlight of the game was his Henry-esque finish for the equalizer. Aubameyang never scored a lot of goals outside the box during his Dortmund stint but he’s been given free rein to shoot from distance. His technique is brilliant – guiding the ball at pace into the corner of the net. World class.

And finally, an honourable mention for Lacazette who came on and had a job to do on the right. He didn’t complain or sulk being played out of position but fought hard for the team to win the ball and was selfless to create chances for Aubameyang. His hard work paid off when attempting to score from outside the box with his left foot as he gave Arsenal the lead for the second time in the game.

Hatta is a Singapore-based Gooner, a purveyor of the latest football boots and kits and founder of You can also find him on Twitter at @chatwithhat.

Top 3 Players of the Month: September

In this monthly series, Hatta explores the best 3 Arsenal players and their impact on the team. 

Unlike that popular song by Green Day, I don’t want to be woken up at the end of September as it’s been a productive month for Arsenal. 6 wins on the trot (4 in the league) has put some optimism back into the Gunners fanbase. The performances haven’t always backed up the results as it’s still a work in progress by Unai Emery and the team. 

Adding some order to that chaos were 3 players who have played the biggest roles in Arsenal’s success in September. 

Petr Cech


Cech had an extremely rocky start to the season. The new manager’s reputation and highlights from pre-season suggested that he will implement a high pressing strategy which requires the keep to be good at his feet as a distributor and unorthodox playmaker. 

Many doubted that Cech would start the season as our No. 1 with big money signing, Bernd Leno, coming in with a reputation as a new-age sweeper keeper who was great with his feet. Cech is old school. His strengths are based around commanding the box and stopping shots and crosses – not playing the ball out with his feet. It comes as no surprise as his best days were at Chelsea, a team which, despite the carousel of managers through the years, have shown a decent defensive solidity and a penchant for a low block. Mourinho’s first stint there laid the foundations for their defensive strength.

Which is why it came as a major shock to many that he started the games against Manchester City and Chelsea. He struggled to be the first point of build-up, albeit against some of the best teams in the league. It could have been so easy to have been deflated by the whole experience but Cech kept his head up and continued pushing on. 

The opposition were not as good in September and that allowed Cech to be under less pressure on the ball. He still had some nervy moments with the ball at his feet but for the most part, he kept us in the game with crucial saves. The Arsenal defence and midfield are still struggling for shape and organization and it was only through the gloves of Cech that we got those wins in the league. Cech’s best performance was against Everton has he made countless saves to ensure Arsenal got their first clean sheet of the season.

Cech has proven through his career that he’s a consummate professional and this season may just be one of the best examples yet. He’s in the twilight of his playing career, tasked with something out of his comfort zone but he turns up at work every day looking to apply himself fully. It may not be perfect but that’s not on him.

At the end of last season, I thought he had at least 1 good year left in him at the top level. I’m glad he’s spending that year at Arsenal, contributing to keeping goals out and showing a fantastic attitude in adapting to new situations. A world class role model for any professional in any field.

Alexandre Lacazette


Lacazette has had an indifferent start to his Arsenal career last season but seemed to have found his groove towards the end. This year, in Aubameyang, he’s had to contend with another elite striker, vying for his spot in the team. It seemed that his place was under threat when Aubameyang started the first couple of games in August but he showed his value by coming on to great effect in both the Manchester City and Chelsea games.

He provides a focal point for the team by holding the ball up diligently, aggressively harrying opposition defenders, linking up play with the attacking players and scoring goals. Everything you want in a modern centre forward. Emery saw this too and in September, he moved Aubameyang wide to allow Lacazette’s all round play to flourish.

Lacazette has scored 2 goals and registered 2 assists in September alone. One of his best performances came in the game against Cardiff where he laid off the ball for Aubameyang with an instinctive back heel for the assist and won the game with a powerful strike into the top corner from an acute angle.

It is testament to Lacazette’s quality that he’s usurped the club’s record signing to lead the attack and that he’s thrived despite his supporting cast of Ozil, Ramsey and Aubameyang struggling to find any form of fluency. He’s been carrying the attack and one can only imagine how devastating he will be with a more fluent midfield behind him.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos


Eyebrows were raised when Sokratis was purchased from Borussia Dortmund for a transfer fee of just below £18m.  It’s not a small fee for a defender who just turned 30. The move also seemed like a lazy decision by Sven Mislintat, the Head of Recruitment who previously led Dortmund’s scouting department. Fans were expecting the next hidden gem, the next Kagawa. Instead, Sven called on his old club for a favour and Arsenal got a player who was marginalized in his last season at club that was struggling for consistency.

Upon his arrival, Sokratis spoke about his contribution as a senior player and leader but we saw very little of that in his first couple of games. The team looked disorganized and it would be fair to say that he was still learning about his teammates and was acclimatizing to the manager’s instructions. 

 Sokratis started the season looking average but his performances started improving from the game against Newcastle. He showed a good reading of the game and covered well for a Mustafi’s lapses in concentration. Sokratis also has had to curb his instinct to charge in for a tackle as he’s assumed a bit more of a role as an organizer alongside his defensive partner.

Some of that leadership was evident too when he berated Mustafi for his mistake in the game against Everton.

It’s been a shame that he got injured and missed the Watford game. Possibly, that was Emery playing it safe as we’ve got a long season ahead with only so many centre backs. I would like to see him paired with Holding, who seems a more competent defender than Mustafi, and is comfortable on the ball too. Arsenal need a leader in defence and Sokratis looks to be growing into that role.

Honorable mention: Lucas Torreira


The Uruguayan terrier would have made the list if he played more. The new signing has been slowly embedded into the team with substitute appearances but has shone in most of the matches he played in. He has since dislodged Guendouzi to form a solid partnership with Xhaka. Watch this space as I have a feeling he’ll be appearing on this list for many months to come.

Hatta is a Singapore based Gooner. A purveyor of the latest football boots and kits and founder of You can also find him on Twitter at @chatwithhat.