Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur shared the points in today’s early kick-off. Below are 5 things we learned from the match.
VAR cannot come soon enough
Another North London derby, another Harry Kane penalty. In December’s fixture at the Emirates, Tottenham scored via the penalty spot after Heung-Min Son went down rather easily following a Rob Holding ‘challenge’ – this infuriated Arsenal fans at the time but this decision was swept under the carpet as Arsenal went on to win the derby 4-2.
The officials today were outstanding from a Spurs perspective.
Offside not flagged for Arsenal despite a big 18 yard box line literally showing how far off they are.
Vertonghen looks like he’s about to go and take the Aubameyang penalty. It should have been retaken.
— TheAFCnewsroom (@TheAFCnewsroom) March 2, 2019
Unfortunately, today two poor refereeing decisions cost Arsenal a valuable 3 points and their first win away against Spurs since 2014. After 73 minutes, Shkodran Mustafi was adjudged to have fouled Harry Kane in the box and a penalty was awarded. Looking back at the highlights it was evident that Kane was offside when the ball was played. Arsenal were then quite rightly awarded a penalty in stoppage time and Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stepped up but was denied by Hugo Lloris to keep the game at 1-1 and ultimately cost the Gunners the victory. Once again, looking back at the highlights Jan Vertonghen was around 3 yards in to the box as the kick was taken, meaning the penalty should have been re-taken. Football is a game full of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, but if VAR was being used in the Premier League, Arsenal would have won the game today and would now be one point behind their rivals.
Arsenal are going to miss Aaron Ramsey
The term ‘legend’ is thrown around a lot these days, but Aaron Ramsey epitomises the word. It was obvious Arsenal were going to miss the Welshman but with today being his last North London derby, the nightmare of his free transfer to Juventus became a reality. Ramsey gave the gunners the lead after 16 minutes and the influential midfielder went on to have a stellar game before being replaced by Mesut Ozil. Ramsey is one of the very few players left in the squad with a wealth of experience in England’s top division and he will be sorely missed, especially in massive games like the North London derby. Today’s goal was Ramsey’s first against Spurs since his flick past Lloris in 2016’s 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.
Nacho Monreal is like a fine wine
Another one of Arsenal’s most experienced players, Nacho Monreal is showing no signs of declining. The Spaniard had a solid performance today and teammate Sead Kolasinac may now struggle to get back into the starting 11. The former Malaga man boasted the most tackles in the game (4), the highest amount of interceptions (2) and the joint the greatest number of passes in Spurs’ half (7).
Unai Emery is getting it right in the big games
Many Arsenal fans were left a bit bamboozled by Emery’s team selection today. After a great team performance that should have resulted in a win, it is hard to criticize the manager for his starting line-up and the substitutions he made. The Arsenal boss’ game management was good, Lucas Torreira came on for Matteo Guendouzi at half-time to solidify the midfield, which it did. Aubameyang coming on for Lacazette was always inevitable, especially with a tiring defence and the forwards pace. This isn’t the first match this season where Emery has surprised us with his team selection and ended up coming out with a good result.
"I am proud of the players and of their work. Then you can win, you can lose, or you can draw like we did.
"But above all, we played like a team, feeling together and pushing individually and collectively."
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 2, 2019
5. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a rejuvenated player
Since returning from injury, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has looked like a different player. He is a midfielder that never really stood out consistently after replacing the electric Alexis Sanchez over a year ago now. Mkhitaryan has moments of brilliance and today was a fine example of that. His link-up play with Aubameyang is telepathic and the Armenian should have had an assist for his shift today.
Not only today, but the former Borussia Dortmund player has looked very good in every game he has featured in since his return from injury in February; notably last time out scoring once and assisting twice in Arsenal’s 5-1 thrashing of Bournemouth.