Olivier Giroud scored the only goal as Arsenal beat local rivals Tottenham in Sunday’s North London Derby at the Emirates. In doing so, Arsenal handed Spurs their first defeat of the new season and for what it is worth at this early stage, climbed above their neighbours in the Premier League table.
Early on, Santi Cazorla called Hugo Lloris into action with a fine free-kick. The Spaniard had another free-kick go just wide of the goal a few minutes later.
Tottenham put a little bit of pressure on the Arsenal defence but failed to test Wojciech Szczesny. Roberto Soldado had a shot blocked, that was probably the closest they came in the first half.
Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half after a Tottenham attack was broken down by Per Mertesacker. The ball found it’s way to Rosicky via Ramsey and Cazorla and Rosicky played Theo Walcott into the clear down the right. Walcott’s low cross was met by Giroud who poked in at the near post to give Arsenal the lead.
Arsenal had chances to increase their lead. Theo Walcott was again clear on the right-hand side and his shot from an angle was saved well by Lloris.
Lloris was again called into action as he had to time a tackle very well on Walcott to prevent the Gunners from extending their lead. To his credit, the tackle was timed to perfection.
Aaron Ramsey also fired over disappointingly in what was a lovely Arsenal attack.
Just before the break, Mathieu Flamini replaced Jack Wilshere to make his second debut for the club. It was the Frenchman’s first appearance for the club since April 2008. Wilshere was suffering from illness and could not continue.
Tottenham were better after the break. They had a penalty appeal waved away when Laurent Koscielny made contact with Roberto Soldado in the box. To be perfectly honest, that one looked like a penalty to me. I had a perfect view of it from my seat at the Emirates yesterday and I thought at the time that Koscielny was lucky to get away with it. Having seen the replay on Match of the Day, I feel the same way about it. Having said that, I’m glad it wasn’t given!.
Arsenal continued to create chances in the second half as Giroud nearly scored a second after his deflected shot forced another great save from the impressive Lloris.
Spurs brought on attacking players to try and grab an equaliser. Jermain Defoe, Sandro and new signing Eric Lamela all came on. Sandro replaced the injured Etienne Capoue, who had to be stretchered off. The home crowd clapped Capoue off the pitch, something you rarely see in a game with this much intensity. But when a player is stretchered off, it’s never good and you wouldn’t wish that upon anybody.
Defoe had a deflected effort superbly stopped by Szczesny. That really was a top save by the keeper. This was followed by what can only be described as pinball in the penalty area. Everything Tottenham threw at us was momentarily cleared out before they tried again. Eventually the Gunners got the ball clear from danger.
Lloris denied Walcott twice more and substitute Nacho Monreal couldn’t finish on the follow-up effort.
Tottenham continued to throw everything at Arsenal in stoppage time, but there was no way past the defence. Every header or clearance away from danger was roared on by the home fans and once the final whistle blew, the Emirates was extremely loud and proud.
I noticed the effort of players like Giroud and Flamini. All of the boys worked hard throughout, but those two stood out near the end. In fact, Flamini was superb ever since he came on. I noticed he even warmed up at half time, having only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes in the first half. He knows what it means to beat Spurs, what it means for the fans. He was working his socks off, as was Giroud.
Giroud was pumped up for this one. When he scored he went to celebrate with the fans and made a signal to the fans in the West Stand (where I was sitting) just to almost say “Get in!” and that really got us going even more.
That brings me on nicely to my next subject. The West Stand. This was my first game sitting in the West Stand at the Emirates. The West Stand is notorious for being the more quiet section of the Arsenal crowd – even in the Highbury days. But I was sitting there and you could hear the Emirates rocking before the game. The Clock End in particular in fine voice. I was surrounded by a lot of people who didn’t seem that interested – tourists even, some must have been.
The Tottenham players had their names read out and the West Stand barely even booed them. Everyone around me wanted their picture taken at the stadium, which again seemed touristy. The pre-match songs were coming from all the other sections of the crowd and yet the West Stand remained fairly quiet. Then there is me of course, singing my heart out and I was inspired to sing even louder because the people around me were so lame. People looking at you as if you’re strange for singing loudly, I couldn’t care less if I’m honest.
Honestly, when “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” was being sung, I swear, if I didn’t stand up and start singing it, I don’t think anyone around me would have done. What on earth is wrong with them?. This is the North London Derby. Sing up. Be proud. You pay £70 for your ticket, make sure you make it worth every penny. Arsenal played their part in that by winning, but my goodness, if you can’t get up for this game, you don’t deserve to be in the stadium on Derby Day.
A couple of fans near me stood out. Firstly, the bad ones out the way. There was a family there that were definitely tourists sitting next to me. No Arsenal shirt on and rolled up just before kick off. As well as this, the decided to leave at the start of stoppage time. One of the most tense spells in the game and they just walked out. Absolutely pathetic.
Now after that moan, the good. A guy a couple of seats to my left was there with his girlfriend. Him and his missus were singing loudly just like me. Every bad decision the referee made was criticised with passion and quite often swear words from both of us. When Soldado took a dive right in front of us to win a free-kick, we both hit the roof. It was great to see that in somebody else. Just pure passion. Surrounded by mostly tourists and quiet fans, a few genuine Arsenal fans who know what the North London Derby means. How lucky we were to get a ticket to the game too. This game is huge and there’s no way on earth I’m not going to be up for this one, no matter what the circumstances are.
Most of the fans around us disappeared after the final whistle, but me, him and his missus were there singing loudly along with most of the ground well after the final whistle blew. So, to the guy that was sitting just a few seats away from me, thank you for coming to the game and being as passionate as you should be on Derby Day. Top effort.
Yesterday was special to me for another reason. It was my birthday. So going to see us at home to Spurs on my birthday was a brilliant thing to do. But of course, if you lose, it would definitely ruin the day. Arsenal gave me a perfect present – a good old fashioned 1-0 to the Arsenal. I didn’t care how we won yesterday, the most important thing was that we did win. To be honest, Arsenal were well worthy of their win. For me, we were the better team and Spurs didn’t pose too much of a threat.
There’s been a lot of hype around Spurs this year. Like I said in the preview though, they’ve won two games 1-0 and both goals were penalties. They still haven’t scored from open play in the Premier League this season. It’s going to take time for Spurs. That’s my honest opinion. I think later in the season they will be a better team, but this team needs time to gel in together. They’ve also just lost Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, their best player last year by a country mile.
At the end of the day, a lot of jokes have been made at Arsenal’s expense for spending no money so far this summer, but Arsenal have beaten Spurs 1-0. £0 summer beats a £107m summer.