Arsenal suffered their heaviest defeat to Tottenham since 1983 with a humbling 3-0 loss away from home on Thursday night, putting their top four aspirations at serious risk.
Starting the game relatively strongly, the press put in place had Spurs’ fans moaning and groaning even after seven minutes.
Trying to play out from the back, they were either pounced upon to force mistakes, or made to go long with options limited. That, sadly, was about as good as it got for the Gunners.
A soft penalty was awarded albeit one that were it the other way around would have been screamed for, and Harry Kane got his token North London Derby penalty. Right on cue.
Tottenham 3-0 Arsenal: 4 negatives and positives as Premier League top four race goes down to the wire for north London sides
Rob Holding exacerbated the entire situation with an inexplicably stupid elbow into Heung-min Son’s face, prompting him to rightly receive a second yellow card and his marching orders. There is no way of defending his actions.
From thereon in it all came tumbling down. The second goal arrived moments later, with the third coming just 75 seconds after the restart to well and truly end the game as a contest and extinguish any modicum of hope that Arsenal could claw their way back into the game. There wasn’t much to begin with, anyway,
For the neutral it sets up an engrossing climax to the season with two games left to decide the outcome of the top four, although it could all be effectively over depending on what transpires on matchweek 37.
Was there anything positive to take from this game? While almost everything wasn’t, we must try to find something. However, starting with the negatives…
Negative #1 – Momentum Shifts Dramatically
Were Arsenal to have lost this game by a narrow margin, perhaps being undone by a 30-yard screamer while simultaneously peppering the Spurs goal and having a few efforts hit the post or be cleared off the line, the mood might be different.
Tottenham would still have reduced the deficit in the table to one point, but only by the skin of their teeth. Arsenal could count it as a game they were merely unfortunate to lose.
Instead, they were humbled. Bar the opening moments, Spurs were the better team on the night.
Falling to such a considerable defeat has altered the emotional landscape dramatically. The table still reads that Arsenal are in pole position with two games left, a scenario that everyone would have taken after three games of the season, but confidence levels for both teams and supporters couldn’t be more different.
It all comes down to how the side refocuses. Can they write this game off immediately like Mikel Arteta demanded? Can they find space in their minds to store the emotional scars of this game away until after the season ends?
They have to, because Spurs will fully believe this is theirs to lose now.
Continued on next page…