The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW35): Spurs 2-1 Arsenal
The first North London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was held inside an empty stadium, with Jose Mourinho and Mikel Arteta both in charge of their first derby and both oversaw an exciting end-to-end first-half.
The first action of the half saw Lucas Moura dribble past Nicolas Pepe well, floating in an inch-perfect pass into Harry Kane, with the Englishman lobbing the ball in an attempt to go over Emi Martinez, though the shot-stopper made himself big and plucked the ball out of the air - a little more height and Kane would have almost certainly opened the scoring.
A few minutes later it was Arsenal's turn to miss a chance that looked sure to be a goal when Hector Bellerin ran onto a long ball directed into the right-back's channel. Bellerin shrugged off Davies before cutting the ball low back into the area with Aubameyang swinging his right-foot at the ball, though the ball ended up pin-balling through the forward's legs.
Arsenal didn't have to rue Aubameyang's miss though as the 16th minute drew the first goal of the day when Spurs failed to clear their lines when Aurier's poor touch was intercepted by Granit Xhaka. Alexandre Lacazette picked up the loose ball, set himself before unleashing a rocket into the top corner of the goal, an unsavable effort that Hugo Lloris couldn't do anything about to open the scoring.
Mikel Arteta's side weren't in the lead for more than 3 minutes due to a poor back-pass from Sead Kolasinac was wayward and collected by Heung-Min Son at the edge of the box, with Son taking the ball away from an angered David Luiz before floating the ball over a committed Martinez.
Wanting to out-do Lacazette's rifle of an opener, Ben Davies picked up the ball 25-yards-out and let-go with a fierce effort, though the growing stock of Martinez was added to when he made a fingertip save to glance the ball onto the crossbar to keep the score level - a truly fantastic save by the keeper!
Arsenal finished the half the stronger of the sides are were unlucky not to add to Lacazette's fine strike, first when Pepe drove to the edge of the opposing penalty area, cutting onto his left-foot before flashing a shot past Lloris's right-hand post. On the 40th minute Pepe was then fouled just outside the penalty area, with Aubameyang's free-kick inches wide to the left-hand post, a welcome relief to Jose Mourinho's side heading into half-time.
The second-half took some time to get into again with Arsenal first threatening again on the 59th minute when Lacazette picked up possession of the ball near the edge of the Spurs box. Turning the ball to his left the Frenchman set up Aubameyang who controlled, set and unleashed a powerful shot off his left-foot, though his effort rattled off the bar to once again keep the scores level.
On the 70th minute a moment of poor defending from Mustafi nearly saw Spurs take the lead when Ben Davies intercepted a ball forward, with the ball travelling half the pitch. Harry Kane was onto the ball with Mustafi committing and ending up with his face on the grass, with Kane cutting the ball back towards Son, though Martinez scooped up the ball just moments before the South Korean would have stabbed home.
The game changed with 80 minutes on the clock when Harry Kane won a corner after forcing a good save from Martinez after Lucas Moura cut the Arsenal defence open like a soft cheese. The resulting corner from Son was guided by on Toby Alderweireld whose header floated into the far-left of the goal to give Jose Mourinho's side the lead with little left to play, setting up an exciting closing section of the game.
With the game stretched, Spurs had a few counters attackers and chances with Son, Kane and Bergwijn all going close, with Arsenal unable to get that 'moment' that could prevent a second defeat during Project Restart for Mikel Arteta's side.
Man of the Match: Heung-Min Son (TOT)
In a watchable back and forth encounter these games are won by players at top form and the one player who made Arsenal punish for their lapses in concentration was the electric South Korean, Heung-Min Son. Pouncing on Kolasinac's error to score delicately past in-form Martinez, before providing a good corner to assist Alderweireld for the winner, Son was in razor sharp form and provided that killer instinct that is missing from most (if not all) of the Spurs squad right now. Without the Korean, this game would have been much worse off.
TOT 2-1 ARS - Insight and Analysis:
Good games to watch in this state of 'lockdown' have been few and far between, but I'm glad I was able to sit down and watch this game. It will be a game with plenty of pub quiz trivia, with Arteta and Mourinho both in their first North London derbies in the first derby at the new Spurs stadium. On top of that, it reminded me of the old alien invaders game in the sense that you'll not watch another back and forth encounter like this until next season (most likely).
Attacked followed by attack, poor defending all over the pitch, near misses and a lot of physicality in the tackles, as well as a wonderful goal by Lacazette, the game was ultimately decided by Arsenal's poor defending. Sead Kolasinac, playing on the left of a back trio for The Gunners, in one dreadful pass highlighted where Mikel Arteta has to improve next season, whilst the winner saw the entire defence switch off and fail and stand still as they slipped to defeat.
There are signs of life in both clubs on a day like this, and I'm mostly keen to see how both clubs develop in the summer with Mourinho and Arteta hoping to shape these squads in their images. Both need some form of development, or much like this season, the Champions League looks unlikely - especially if Newcastle join the party this summer.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Manager: Joe Mourinho
GK: H. Lloris
DEF: S. Aurier
DEF: D. Sánchez
DEF: T. Alderweireld
DEF: B. Davies
MID: M. Sissoko
MID: G. Lo Celso (Skipp 84')
MID: H. Winks
MID: Lucas Moura (Bergwijn 82')
FOR: Son Heung-Min (Lamela 90+4')
FOR: H. Kane
Vertonghen, Lamela, R Sessegnon, Gazzaniga, Bergwijn, Ndombele, Skipp, Carvalho Fernandes, Tanganga
Manager: Mikel Arteta
GK: E. Martínez
DEF: S. Mustafi
DEF: David Luiz
DEF: S. Kolasinac (Nelson 84')
DEF: H. Bellerín (Cedric 84')
DEF: K. Tierney (Willock 84')
MID: D. Ceballos
MID: G. Xhaka
FOR: N. Pépé (Saka 70')
FOR: A. Lacazette
FOR: P-E-. Aubameyang
Papastathopoulos, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Cédric Soares, Nelson, Willock, Macey, Saka
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