Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham, by Ella Meadowcroft at Ashburton Grove
Arsenal stole the show in the north London derby on Saturday as they put in a dominant performance to outclass a stunned Spurs.
The 2-0 win was sealed within the first half, as an impressive Shkodran Mustafi header looped above Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris with Alexis Sanchez firing home only five minutes later.
Referee Mike Dean has come under scrutiny for his part in both goals but the Gunners’ gritty performance outshone that of Tottenham’s, as they continue their longest ever successful run at Ashburton Grove.
“I think we played with purpose, good concentration, the desire always to be efficient and with great solidarity from the first minute to the last,” said Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
“We never had a minute where we felt we had dropped our focus. Overall, it was a very intense game.”
Goalscorer Mustafi, who controlled the Arsenal back three to protect the clean sheet, was also full of admiration for his teammates.
“I think we showed great character when we had the ball, but as well when we didn’t have it. In those games, if you keep a clean sheet you always have the possibility to win the game … We have the potential upf ront to always score.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino had never lost the derby before this weekend and was visibly frustrated post-match as he spoke of his criticism of under-fire Dean.
“I’m very disappointed because of the result, because of the way that we conceded the goals … The foul wasn’t a foul, the goal was offside,” vented Pochettino.
“If you analyse the game until we conceded the goal, I think the team was doing well, I think we were better than them.”
The manager was backed up by his No 1 Lloris, who said: “I think we didn’t deserve the goals. I don’t want to hide behind the referee’s decisions but he had a big impact.
“We kept face, we kept fighting but we didn’t create so much today and I don’t know why.”
Controversy aside, it was the resolute performance of the home team that managed to keep the usual impressive combinations of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen quiet.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil received high praise and was rewarded by a standing ovation as well as the man of the match award. With Ozil and Sanchez not yet re-signing contracts with the club, Wenger insists he by no means doubts their commitment.
“I never questioned them. I know them well and I know that when these guys go on a football pitch they want to win the football game and they’ve shown that commitment again today,” said the Frenchman.
“I am convinced they love the club and they love the team, but all the rest will be decided … They want to stay but other clubs out there offer good contracts as well.”
Mustafi also backed the two playmakers. “They [Ozil and Sanchez] are important, they are big players who can create chances and score goals. Obviously everyone in the team wants them to stay but in the end they choose, it’s their career and their choice.”
Despite the battle of north London bleeding red, Spurs still have a point advantage over Arsenal in the Premier League and will be looking to continue their impressive Champions League run with a win over Borussia Dortmund tomorrow.