Arsene Wengers must sign a top-class central midfielder in the winter window, Spurs are developing into a mighty fine team and other things we learned from Arsenal 1 Tottenham 1.
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Arsenal need a midfield lynchpin
The Francis Coquelin-Santi Cazorla partnership has been the bedrock of Arsenal’s unparalleled results in the calendar year of 2015. The bite and bark of the dogged Coquelin has been complemented by the majesty of Cazorla. Not today, not against opponents who refused to allow the Spaniard time and space on the ball. Spurs had clearly strategised that if they stopped Cazorla, they could stop Arsenal. It was a victory for the visitors when Cazorla was hauled off at half-time and replaced by the more intense Mathieu Flamini. With Mikel Arteta and Flamini in the final years of their contracts and not expected to get new ones, Arsenal are crying out for a proven midfield anchorman who can aid Coquelin and Cazorla. Arsene Wenger is looking, as revealed by Football Insider. It could be key to their title hopes if he can get his man in January.
Tottenham are responding to Pochettino demands
This was a team who responded perfectly to their manager’s exacting instructions. Energetic, enthusiastic and alert, the visitors refused to allow Arsenal to settle into their famed passing patterns. The minimum expectation of Mauricio Pochettino is that his players run themselves into the ground from first minute to last. He got it here as they harrassed and harried their bitter rivals into submission. Spurs’ players won the 50-50s, were in the faces of their opponents and pressed them to distraction. It was mightily impressive stuff.
Campbell is not Arsenal class
How Wenger would have loved to have had one or more of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere or Danny Welbeck available to roam up and down the flank. Joel Campbell impressed with his attacking repertoire at Swansea eight days ago – if not in Munich in midweek – but the cauldron of a north London derby demonstrated the Costa Rican’s inadequacies. He got in behind the Spurs defence on a couple of occasions but his technique let him down badly the first time following an exquisite Alexis Sanchez pass. It was little surprise that Campbell was substituted after 72 minutes. He is playing because there is basically no-one else.
Arsenal have toughened up
If the sign of a good side is that they can eke out results when they are below par, then the Gunners are a decent outfit. Wenger’s team were a shadow of their normally fluent selves today as the midweek mauling at Bayern appeared to have robbed the players of energy and confidence. But the manager’s substitutions paid off as Flamini, Mikel Arteta and goalscorer Kieran Gibbs all made the most of rare opportunities. It was not pretty but it was effective.
Dembele and Lamela are reborn under new regime
Derided as dilettantes in the past, that accusation can no longer be levelled at Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela. The attacking midfield duo typified the aggression and hunger of the visitors. Indeed, Lamela was so physical that he had to be hauled off late on to avoid a red card. How things have changed for the pair, who were more leisurely under Tim Sherwood and Andre Villas-Boas.