Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal score: Kane and Son strike as part of Mourinho masterclass in North London derby
Spurs clambered back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over their rivals
Tottenham returned to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday that was a prime example of a Jose Mourinho team at its best. Arsenal had 69 percent possession but transformed that into 44 crosses and just two shots on goal as they failed to break down a team who twice hit them on the counter-punch. Heung-min Son scored a stunning goal on the counter-attack before teeing up Harry Kane for his record-breaking 12th goal in the North London Derby.
Here's more from Spurs' win.
There's a reason why Jose Mourinho has never lost a home Premier League game against Arsenal. He has a relatively simple plan to execute that, against teams long dogged by a chaotic midfield, can be hugely effective. Draw in your opponents, drop back coiled and ready to burst and then explode out of the blocks.
It worked in outstanding fashion, helped by a moment of brilliance from Son that made their approach all the shrewder. There were imperfect individual moments from Arsenal -- a cross that didn't need to be made, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding getting confused on their defensive assignments, Bernd Leno not taking a step to his left -- but equally it was a moment of unlikely brilliance even from a player as exceptional as Son. The numbers don't lie: 97 times out of 100 that ball does not go in the net.
It was just what Tottenham needed, from there it was simply a case of holding firm and waiting for the chance to counter again. It rather helped that Arsenal were so inept in attack, creating zero chances in the first half and showing minimal vision for the final pass. When a repurposed Alexandre Lacazette is deemed your best option as a number 10 you will invariably struggle for creativity.
That means more players feel compelled to join the attack, opening up just the space Tottenham need. On the stroke of half-time Thomas Partey was off the pitch getting treatment on an injury but if he had been available Arsenal would still have been facing a four-on-three. Why, in such circumstances, had Granit Xhaka and Kieran Tierney both bombed on whilst Hector Bellerin was attacking from the right?
Perhaps because Arsenal were desperate to make something of a period of promise but they failed to realize that in those moments they were falling into Spurs' trap.
Willian a hindrance for Arsenal
At the heart of Arsenal's difficulties this season has been a creative void. The widely held assumption has been that they did not address a problem that was apparent in the latter stages of last season. It is an understandable view when the man who was supposed to pick up that mantle has had a negligible impact at best.
Willian was sixth in the Premier League for chances created last season, he is 46th so far this season. Remove the trio of chances he laid on against Fulham on the opening day and he is 84th. It is fair to suggest that Arsenal should have expected something of a drop in productivity from a 32-year-old but even this is so far beyond what the most pessimistic of pundits might have foreseen.
This may have been a nadir in his early career, one which still has two and a half seasons of over £100,000-a-week in wages to go. Willian did not complete a forward pass until the final minutes of the first half and whilst his pass completion rate of 84 percent looks solid enough it was rather a mark of his conservatism in possession. Only two of his 42 passes went into the penalty area, only one in the second half when the visitors desperately needed ingenuity to unlock Tottenham's defense.
He was as guilty as anyone for the bonanza of woeful crosses in the second half. In total Willian attempted 16. Two found their man.
Certainly the cries for Mesut Ozil will only grow louder if this is the alternative. With Arsenal now averaging less than a goal a game in the top flight, something has to change -- only Burnley and Newcastle have created fewer chances in the top flight this season than the Gunners.
The player himself acknowledged earlier in the season that he was finding Arteta's system to be something of a challenge but it surely cannot be his manager's plan that the ball so often goes backwards when it comes to the man who is supposed to be a crucial creative component in this Arsenal side.
Maybe this is a non-issue. After all a throw-in is rarely a game-changing moment in any football match. But what does it say of Bellerin that he has made five foul throws already this season, another coming in today's defeat?
It is among the most basic of rules and requirements of a professional footballer, that he take the ball back behind his head before throwing it to a team-mate. There is simply no justification for not successfully throwing the ball into play.
These are the sort of basic errors that simply aren't considered acceptable in high-functioning teams and were exactly the sort that Mikel Arteta was supposed to be stamping out. It is a small thing but it feels like a sign of a club that has a history of allowing fundamental issues to go unaddressed.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: As Mourinho a player as one could imagine, he protected the defense in exceptional fashion. Five clearances, three interceptions, one tackle and a team-leading 80 percent pass success rate in his own half: the perfect stat line for a defensive midfielder. RATING: 8
Thomas Partey: Those who know Partey well say he is a player who lives for the big games. Perhaps that is why he rushed back for the trip up the Seven Sisters Road, completing only one full training session before starting a match for which he was clearly not sharp enough. RATING: 4
Heung-min Son: The most incisive player on the pitch by far. His goal will steal the headlines but the precision and incision of his assist for Kane was no less impressive. RATING: 7
Premier League outlook
Spurs now hold a two-point advantage over Chelsea at the top of the table before their trip to Crystal Palace next Sunday. That will be the same day Arsenal host Burnley looking to escape 15th position in the Premier League. Both play Europa League games on Thursday having already qualified for the knockout round.
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