Premier League

5 Things We Learned From Spurs 2-0 Arsenal

 • by Matt Gault
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Tottenham Hotspur continued their magnificent home form this season by beating Arsenal 2-0 at White Hart Lane thanks to a rapid second-half one-two punch from Dele Alli and Harry Kane.

Spurs keep the pressure up on Chelsea at the top, narrowing the gap to four points while Arsenal’s top-four hopes were dented, now sitting six points behind Manchester City.

Here are five things we learned from the match.

Ozil is frustrating to leave Sanchez frustrated

Mesut Özil should be dropped for Wednesday night.

There was a moment in the second-half when Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez threatened to combine to devastating effect. Arsenal’s two most regularly recognised ‘world-class’ players completed a few one-twos to free Ozil down the left. However, the German’s final ball to Sanchez was poor. Spurs gained possession and broke and, just as the TV cameras moved away, it was easy to catch Sanchez’s reaction towards his teammate. He wasn’t irate, but he still looked exasperated.

It captured the emotions of both players on what was a distressing afternoon. However, while Sanchez was typically brimming with industry, pressing Spurs at every opportunity and trying to make things happen, Ozil simply evaporated from the equation.

Compared to Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, Spurs’ two tireless creators in attack, Ozil’s lack of work ethic was laid bare. He was anonymous and entirely ineffective – it’ll be hugely surprising if he retains his place next week against Manchester United.

How can Spurs replicate stunning home form at Wembley?

Home comforts to Wembley woes? Spurs have been utterly unstoppable at White Hart Lane this season, winning all but two games while beating Arsenal meant a 13th win on the bounce in front of their own supporters. That runs includes wins against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City and it’s been a sequence that has helped them maintain their position in second, tucked in behind leaders Chelsea.

Spurs' Dele Alli and Harry Kane

If Spurs are to finish second this season, the expectancy will be to build and improve next year. However, will that really be possible at Wembley, a ground they’ve notoriously struggled at?

Earlier this season, Spurs won only one of four European games there as they were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League group stage before failing to beat Gent in the Europa League last-32. Most recently, they fell to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, their superiority for large periods of the game making that defeat particularly difficult to stomach.

With such haunting memories of playing under that iconic arch, it’s possible that psychology may play a part in dictating both the performances of Spurs and their opponents there next season. While Spurs may be hesitant and cagey as they settle into their home for the 2017/18 season, other teams will be aware of their previous struggles and encourage them to attack.

Arsenal won’t accept it but the balance of power has already shifted

The result confirmed it: Tottenham will finish above Arsenal in the league for the first time since 1995. After Kane struck to make it 2-0 and wrap up the points, the home fans could be heard bellowing “North London is ours.” It was difficult not to agree with their sentiment.

At this point, it’s impossible to deny Spurs’ vast superiority to their fiercest enemies.

In many ways it was a game that summed up both sides. Arsenal, the once great entertainers of this league, shifted ineffectively around as a collection of individuals who barely like one another and barely like working with one another.

Spurs, in stark contrast, played with spirit, organisation and cutting edge in the final third. Arsenal, much to the chagrin of an incensed Wenger teetering over the edge of his seat in the dugout, were bereft of a response. It was a performance and a result that underlined Spurs’ impressive trajectory under Mauricio Pochettino while simultaneously illustrating Arsenal’s lack of direction under Wenger.

In comfortably outclassing Arsenal in every major department, Spurs confirmed that Arsenal are now the chasers in the North London rivalry, although they’re fans won’t be so quick to agree with such an assertion.

Commanding Wanyama and steady Dier highlight Arsenal’s flimsy centre

It’s difficult to recall, this season at least, such a contrasting performance from a couple of central midfielders. While Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier dictated the game from the middle with graft, power and conviction, Arsenal’s duo of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey were comprehensively outmuscled, outthought and overrun.

The fact that Wanyama – many people’s Man of the Match – cost Spurs just £9million compared to the 30 splashed out by Arsenal for Xhaka makes it all the more pleasing if you’re a Spurs fan. In fact, Wanyama and Dier were so assured that the excellent Mousa Dembele was barely missed.

While Dier sat deep and shielded the defence, Wanyama was given licence to roam forward – and roam he did. The Kenyan powerhouse’s reading of the game was a feature, often intercepting before barrelling forward (he created three chances and completed 18 out of 19 passes in the attacking third).

While Ramsey flickered with quality in the first-half, he faded following the break – perhaps understandable given his lack of minutes this season. Xhaka, on the other hand, was a liability, making only one of his three attempted tackles and failing to make a single interception or block. Wanyama made three interceptions, including one in his own box.

Simply put, it’s difficult to see Arsenal making up the ground on Spurs next season with such a second-rate engine room. Central midfield is such a key area on the pitch, one in which Arsenal have dominated in previous seasons (Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas, Ray Parlour come to mind), thus highlighting the need to invest in that position this summer.

Walker’s days numbered at Spurs?

There can be no argument that Kyle Walker has played his part in the Mauricio Pochettino era. With Walker and Danny Rose operating expertly on opposite flanks, Spurs became a fearsome attacking unit out wide, with both players having a reasonable claim to being the league’s best in their respective positions.

As a result, other clubs have noticed. Manchester City have been heavily linked with the England right-back and it’s not hard to see why, having notched five assists in an impressive campaign. City need a right-back to replace the aging Pablo Zabaleta, so it’s not surprising to see hear that they’re circling.

What is surprising, though, is how it’s affected Walker. Pochettino may try to swerve uncomfortable questions regarding his player’s future in the heat of the run-in, but the fact that Spurs have played Chelsea and Arsenal in consecutive weeks and Walker has started neither is telling.

It meant Kieran Trippier was preferred at right-back for the Arsenal match and played well. It perhaps paves the way for Walker to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but is that really a step-up for a player who has regularly stood out in the arguably the Premier League’s best team?

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