Arsenal: Magical Henrikh Mkhitaryan a cerebral juggernaut against Spurs

Arsenal weren’t able to get the result against Tottenham, but Henrikh Mkhitarya played his part as the madness of his magic continued.

There were plenty of talking points against Tottenham, most of which involve the FA, Shkodran Mustafi, Davinson Sanchez and how the Arsenal strikers soiled their britches when it mattered most.

Surprisingly, it might actually be that Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a tremendous performance fly under the radar of the other headliners. It wasn’t helped on by a relatively subdued first half, but the theme of his first half that I want to make sure no one misses is that he didn’t try to force the issue.

Especially early on in the season, it often felt like Mkhitaryan was trying to force himself on matches, and when you have the talent around you that he has, that isn’t necessary. Just bide your time and await your opportunity and, when it comes, don’t fall into line, do something different, which became the theme of his individual performance against Spurs, he did something different.

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While the match was flying all around him, Mkhitaryan was the definition of confidence and coolness with the ball each time he took control of it. For completing a team-high three dribbles, he didn’t take a single possession-losing touch and he only had the ball taken from him a single time.

In such a chaotic match, where everyone in the attack lost the ball at least three times, Mkhitaryan bucked the trend.

But it wasn’t just his control and coolness, it was his creativity. How he only got credited for one key pass is beyond me, but then again, it really isn’t, as his strikers weren’t able to maximize the chances he was creating.

I’m thinking in particular of the fantastic, bending ball that must have been curled inch-perfect to the foot of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, rushing through the center, only for the striker to lose out on the chance and squander possession.

Mkhitaryan kept popping up in deadly positions, not just on his flank, but rotating into the No. 10 slot at times as well and sending Spurs defenders whichever way he wanted them to go with simple touches of the ball. It wasn’t anything fancy because it didn’t have to be. He let the tension and frantic nature of the match do the hard work, and his steady control became the deceptive bit.

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This makes it four straight matches where Mkhitaryan has been nothing short of tremendous. In previous matches, it has been him adding spark and energy to the match, but against Spurs, he was smart enough to dial it back and win the mental battle. Top stuff.