Arsenal were undone by multiple factors against Tottenham, but two stood out.
Many of those were self-inflicted. Arsenal left themselves exposed at counter-attacks, the most destructive trait this Spurs outfit possess, while the hit and hope nature of trying to boost the stats in the opposition box were pure defeatism.
On Spurs’ side, they have a method of playing that suits them down to the ground. That approach differs for the opposition they face, in the same vein where Arsenal’s three central defenders and double pivot protection in front of the defence worked perfectly against the ‘bigger sides’ last season.
Arsenal, bidding to move away from that system, now add emphasis on pure quality in the final third. Players who make chances, and score them. It’s just that.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is someone Arsenal fans have, rightly, championed to be included in that bracket. Dragging the side through the mire with his goals, the vast majority coming off the left in swift breaks, those days, while only months ago, momentarily appear unlikely for a sequel.
With Jose Mourinho instilling a back seven for the final 15 minutes on Sunday, naturally Arsenal would see the bulk of the ball. Even sides desperately low on confidence with that much possession will create something resembling a half-chance. In these moments, however, quality is telling.
Two players of the aforementioned standard would be welcomed with open arms at Arsenal. Operators with their movement, link-up play and finishing would be a flavoursome accompaniment to the blandness we’re being served up each Sunday.
Do Arsenal already have a world-class striker? The adage goes, ‘you don’t become a bad player overnight’. I don’t think one can claim Aubameyang is now a ‘bad player’. He’s a fantastic footballer, enduring by far the worst spell of his career. As captain he isn’t providing enough, but as a world-class forward, he is undoubtedly falling short.
Why Arsenal lost on Sunday is, quite simply, because they’re extremely poor at this minute and Tottenham aren’t. The ins and outs of that can be discussed until the cows come home, but the general lack of quality in advanced areas is markedly evident.
Even if it’s missing all over, Spurs ran it home up front.