Both goals came within a two minute spell just before the hour mark and the win averts “St. Totteringham’s Day” by ensuring Spurs will finish above Arsenal in the Premier League for the first time in 22 years. Here are the winners and losers.
The game was thundering along for damn near an hour, but nothing looked like happening. Sure, there was some great invention and attacking, with both sides determined to score first, but neither side looked like taking any of their chances.
Then Christian Eriksen ran into the box from the right-hand side and collected a layoff from Dele Alli. Immediately Nacho Monreal lunged at him, but Eriksen skipped to the left to avoid that tackle and then, seeing Laurent “world-class” Koscielny filling his vision, the delightful Dane dipped back to his right selling the fake so hard that Koscielny will surely be calling the ASA at full-time. Eriksen’s shot was well-saved by Cech but Dele Alli tucked home the rebound to give Spurs the lead.
Suddenly, the game came to life. Spurs made it 2-0 minutes later, end product became a reality, and it was all thanks to Eriksen’s brilliant bodyswerve. One moment of magic that changed a whole game. He played brilliantly besides that; creating as many chances as Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez combined.
It was Eriksen’s magic that busted the game wide-open, for sure, but Dele Alli played a huge role at the start and end of that move. It was his burst into the box that allowed him to drag the Arsenal defenders deep and create the channel Eriksen moved into (moreover he actually laid it off to the Dane).
Dele Alli has now been directly involved in 12 goals in his last 11 games across all competitions.
8 goals ⚽️
4 assists 🅰️
Huge goal. pic.twitter.com/zeCKSFhmbV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 30, 2017
And then he scrambled to reach Eriksen’s rebound. Ahead of Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs and Granit Xhaka. Then he struck the ball on the half-volley with his weak foot thumping it down off the ground so it bounced over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s legs on the line.
Dele Alli has now got 17 goals in the Premier League this season. That’s as many as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sergio Aguero. The debate about whether or not he’s a midfielder or forward misses the point: he’s both. Moving from deep into goalscoring positions off-the-ball and making the difference. England’s very own Thomas Müller.
Aside from actually winning the North London Derby, which should always be cause for celebration, this win allowed Spurs to continue their Sisyphean pursuit of Chelsea. They’re unlikely to haul back the Blues but pushing them to the absolute limit instead of capitulating as they did against Leicester last season will do their confidence the world of good.
Moreover, this was the last North London Derby at the original White Hart Lane before it’s remodelled into some kind of modern behemoth. Winning this one mattered just a bit more. Additionally, this win also consigned Arsenal to finish below Spurs in the Premier League table for the first time in a jillion years – and that might just be the sweetest thing of all for Spurs fans.
One has to question the wisdom of a manager who willingly plays Gabriel in such high-intensity games, especially when Rob Holding exists. Wenger got all “sarcastic internet contrarian” after the FA Cup semi-final win, saying Holding wasn’t feted as much because he didn’t cost £50m – when really he isn’t feted enough because Wenger has barely played him. Including today.
So Holding watched on from the bench while Gabriel floundered all game, capped off by his utter failure to do anything of note defensive in the process of Spurs’ first goal (and he had two cracks at it) followed by, literally a couple of minutes later, getting suckered into fouling Harry Kane as the Englishman attempted a dribble. Seriously: who gets fooled by Harry Kane dribbling?!
As mentioned previous, Koscielny got sold on down the river by Christian Eriksen for Spurs’ first crucial goal. The match ended in a procession but had Eriksen not scored then it genuinely could have gone either way. But Koscielny, long proclaimed the best defender in the Premier League by Arsenal fans, has looked anything but this season. Tonight was the peak in what has been the rudest of awakenings for the Gunners’ talismanic defender.
The greatest manager in Arsenal’s history has overseen years of utter degradation, to the point where Arsenal are now running almost entirely off the childlike energy of one Chilean forward and the brilliant but withered ligaments of a Spanish midfielder.
Today, Wenger once again sent Arsenal out in a 3-4-2-1 formation that suits no one but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because the players are simply not familiar with it. Wenger doesn’t have weeks to train them, as Chelsea’s Antonio Conte did, and has turned to the system as a desperate grab for both relevance and hope. Spurs ripped the system to bits with excellent overlapping play down both flanks – and Wenger couldn’t respond.
Last time Spurs finished above Arsenal:
• Arsene Wenger was a J-League manager
• Ajax won the Champions League
• Messi was 7 years old pic.twitter.com/rXfdPpRW73
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 30, 2017
He started Gabriel over Rob Holding, and waited an eternity to remove the Brazilian and bring on Héctor Bellerin (a sensational talent who has seen his confidence and ability withered away by Wenger’s catastrophic mismanagement). Moreover, he is now going to finish below Spurs for the first time in his career as Arsenal manager.
Arsene Wenger needs to leave. He should just pray he has the chance to do it on a high after a third FA Cup win in four years, instead of an impotent end to a Premier League campaign and a battering in an all-London final against Champions Chelsea.