Arsenal claim emphatic north London derby victory after Spurs capitulate in woeful first half

·20-min read
Arsenal vs Tottenham, Premier League: live score and latest updates - GETTY IMAGES
Arsenal vs Tottenham, Premier League: live score and latest updates - GETTY IMAGES
  • Arsenal blow sluggish Spurs away with three goals in the opening 30 minutes

  • Son scores a consolation goal for Spurs late on but pressure mounting on head coach Nuno Espirito Santo

Mind the gap. On the evidence of this evisceration, executed in an extraordinary first-half, Arsenal are emphatically on the up and Tottenham Hotspur most definitely in the descent.

As thrilling as Arsenal’s football was at times in that period, with the trio of their young attacking players, it has to be judged by what they were up against. And what they were up against was a shambles, an utter, abject, shambles.

On the touchline Spurs head coach Nuno Espirito Santo looked stunned as he has switched from manager of the month in August to, probably, the Premier League coach now under most pressure to be sacked at the end of September. The truth is he just does not look the right fit.

Quite what Nuno was doing picking a midfield three that included Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli – who was hooked at half-time after a hapless performance - was unfathomable. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was completely over-run.

Further forward and Harry Kane looks totally shell-shocked even though, bizarrely given Arsenal’s dominance, he maybe should have scored twice and could have had a penalty. That showed that Arsenal still remain vulnerable themselves while it is the first time in five years that Kane has failed to score in five successive league games.

Harry Kane had chances at the Emirates but his misses summed up Spurs' afternoon - AFP
Harry Kane had chances at the Emirates but his misses summed up Spurs' afternoon - AFP

Spurs won their first three league matches without conceding a goal – with pointless Arsenal at the bottom of the table when they were top. They have now conceded 13 in five games in all competitions while Arsenal’s campaign is up and running with a third successive league win.

At times their head coach Mikel Arteta has looked like a man whistling in the wind, a King Canute trying to turn the tide but he will believe this was the most compelling case so far that Arsenal are surely heading in the right direction. His reactions spoke more, though, of relief. This was his best day in the Emirates dug-out.

In the stands was Daniel Ek, the Spotify billionaire who has attempted to buy Arsenal and was a guest of Thierry Henry, who has endorsed him, and how they celebrated as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang swept home the second goal and then completed an Henry-style knee slide in homage.

The Arsenal fans were delirious and who can blame them. They have waited a long, long time for this kind of dominant display and although it was not sustained over the whole game they will relish and savour that it came in the north London derby even if it only takes Arsenal into the top half of the table and only above Spurs on goals scored. Conversely they are suddenly only four points off the top four.

Those first-half goals came thick and fast and were slickly taken by Arsenal with exciting patterns weaved by Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe and with Granit Xhaka restored to the side and excelling. Did anyone see this coming? Maybe Arteta will argue he did and maybe he will also, justifiably, argue that we are only now getting a look at what his first-choice team will be.

And so to the goals. Arsenal went in front when Ben White once more beat Kane in the air with Xhaka flicking the ball on to Odegaard who fed it out wide to Saka. He took on Sergio Reguilon and crossed low with Smith Rowe meeting it to side-foot home. On the edge of the penalty area stood Ndombele with Alli also watching as he jogged back.

The lead was doubled with the pick of the goals as Arsenal broke away. It started with Xhaka holding off Hojbjerg and finding Smith Rowe who found Kieran Tierney. The left-back played it infield to Aubameyang with Smith Rowe continuing his run and being deftly released by the striker. Smith Rowe ran on and pulled the ball back with Aubameyang striking it first time past Hugo Lloris.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring Arsenal's 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021 in London, England.  - GETTY IMAGES
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring Arsenal's 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES

The third came as Kane stumbled deep in the Arsenal half and fell over the ball with the home side again quickly pouring forward and with Smith Rowe finding Saka who dribbled at Eric Dier. Kane got back and slid in but it still dropped for Saka who beat Lloris with a low cross-shot.

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka, front, celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates stadium in London, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021.  - AP
Arsenal's Bukayo Saka, front, celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates stadium in London, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. - AP

It was over even though, amid all of this, there were – somehow – two good chances for Spurs and a couple more in the second-half before they eventually did score. Firstly Son Heung-min, involved in a keen contest with Takehiro Tomiyasu, won possession back and eventually forced Aaron Ramsdale to push over a powerful near post drive. Then from a corner Kane, unmarked, directed a header just wide. He should have scored although it would have been hugely flattering to Spurs but possibly he should also have been awarded a penalty early in the second-half after being caught by White just inside the area. Instead play carried on.

There was far more urgency and cohesion from Spurs after half-time – there could barely have been less -with a change of shape as Oliver Skipp came on and, after him, Bryan Gil with Kane lifting the ball narrowly past the post after running onto Dier’s lofted pass and shrugging off Tomiyasu.

Finally they did score with the lively Gil playing the ball to Reguilon whose low cross was met by Son. Ramsdale got a hand to it but could not keep the ball out. In injury-time Spurs went close again with Lucas Moura’s deflected shot from 20 yards brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Ramsdale.

It meant that as poorly as Spurs had played they had chances and amid the understandable Arsenal euphoria at the final whistle that has to be a concern for Arteta if they are really on their way back. But if they can sustain performances as impressive as the first 45 minutes then something might be stirring.

As it happened:

05:58 PM

That's all the live reaction from me...

But read Jason Burt's match report for a full recap of today's events.

05:46 PM

Mikel Arteta has not had a smile like that in a little while...

05:40 PM

Things have changed very quickly for Mikel Arteta

05:31 PM

New signings are making an impact at the Emirates

05:26 PM

A terrible, terrible day for Tottenham

In a run that started when they sat top of the Premier League table, Spurs have conceded 3+ times in three successive Premier League matches for the first time since September 2003, when manager Glenn Hoddle was sacked after the third match in that run.


05:24 PM

FULL-TIME: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

That is that. A hugely convincing win for Arsenal over their old rivals. How big a match will this be in the reign of Mikel Arteta?

05:22 PM

90+4 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

Lucas fouls Odegaard from behind as he desperately tries to win the ball back. The home crowd erupt knowing the job is now done.

05:20 PM

90+2 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

Spurs hit the bar! A deflected shot loops over the head of Ramsdable who just tips it onto the bar as the ball was dipping in. Vital save!

05:19 PM

90 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

There will be five minutes of added time.

Bryan Gil breaks down the right and he is fouled by Sambi Lokonga.

05:15 PM

87 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

Spurs are camped in Arsenal's half, Arteta's side sitting deep to protect their lead.

Smith Rowe wins the ball for his side and is then fouled by Emerson.

Changes for Arsenal; Maitland-Niles on for Saka, Tavares on for Smith Rowe.

05:13 PM

84 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

Tierney fires a shot from long range but it is never in danger of troubling the goal.

05:09 PM

81 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

Xhaka is going off after a lengthy display. He has been good today. Sambi Lokonga is on.

05:07 PM

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAL! (Son) Arsenal 3 Spurs 1

Bryan Gil wins the ball and plays in Reguilon who squares it to Son. The South Korean powers it past Ramsdale from close range.

Xhaka was down in the build-up but so was Lucas.

Is it game on with 12 minutes to go?

05:05 PM

77 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Odegaard's corner is headed clear. Xhaka and Saka have both gone down with cramp - a sign of hard work in the midfield.

05:01 PM

73 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Saka drives at the Spurs defence, arrowing a shot towards the far bottom corner. Lloris tips behind for a corner.

04:58 PM

70 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Arsenal press Spurs into a mistake, Lloris kicking a pass straight into touch. Ndombele is off, Bryan Gil on - that is Tottenham's last substitution.

04:56 PM

68 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Arsenal maintain possession for a considerable period, spreading the play from side to side. Skipp has enough, committing a clear foul on Partey. Yellow card awarded.

The resulting free kick picks out Aubameyang at the back post. His volley is caught by Lloris at the second attempt.

04:54 PM

66 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Xhaka fouls Ndombele on half-way. He is not booked for that very deliberate foul.

Hojbjerg picks out Reguilon who miscontrols the ball in Arsenal territory.

04:51 PM

63 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Kane has a chance to get Spurs back into the game. He is played in on goal, brings the ball down and pokes his one-on-one effort wide. That could have been Spurs' moment.

04:50 PM

62 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Ndombele wins the ball back for his side. Skipp breaks forward and the ball eventually runs to Kane who fires a decent shot off. Ramsdale blocks it into the box and Tomiyasu beats Son to the rebound. Top defending.

04:48 PM

60 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Lucas puts a cross into the Arsenal box and Ramsdale comes off his line to claim it. Nice for him to have an involvement, really.

Spurs win a free kick in a promising area. Son curls it straight into the arms of Ramsdale. That was a really poor delivery.

04:45 PM

57 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Kane just beats White to the ball in the box and he goes down under a challenge from his England team-mate. That looked like a penalty but nothing is awarded. White definitely made contact with Kane in the box. No intervention from Var comes.

04:42 PM

54 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Arsenal win a corner. The initial ball is headed away and Smith Rowe's shot is blocked. Arsenal come again, a cross is dinked to Aubameyang who heads it across goal. Sanchez nudges Gabriel out the way to head it out for a corner. No penalty comes. Arsenal are furious.

The corner is dealt with.

04:39 PM

51 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Odegaard has been excellent today, making unselfish decisions, releasing his team-mates into space. He does just that but Smith Rowe is swiftly shut down.

04:37 PM

49 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Saka cuts a loose pass out and initiates a counter. Skipp does well to break up the play, just what he was brought on to do.

Reguilon sends a cross into the Arsenal box but White heads it clear.

04:35 PM

47 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Partey finds a pocket of space on the right of the box but hammers a shot well wide of the target.

04:33 PM

Here we go!

Arsenal get us restarted.

04:33 PM

Two changes for Spurs

Emerson Royal and Skipp on for Alli and Tanganga.

04:30 PM

A comeback seems rather unlikely...

But you just never know in football, as the old cliche goes.

04:21 PM

This is what pressure lifting off one's shoulders looks like...

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal celebrates their side's third goal scored by Bukayo Saka of Arsenal (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal celebrates their side's third goal scored by Bukayo Saka of Arsenal (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES

04:18 PM

HALF-TIME: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Fair to say it has been Arsenal's half. Spurs have not been at the races.

04:15 PM

45 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Aubameyang is played through on goal but a poor touch ends the opportunity.

There will be two minutes of added time.

04:13 PM

View from the ground

04:12 PM

42 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Aubameyang dinks a cross into the back post but there is no one there to meet it. Tomiyasu breaks down the right but fouls Reguilon in the process.

04:10 PM

39 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Spurs win a corner. Son whips it into the box, Kane meets it but directs just wide. Big chance! It was a free header.

04:07 PM

37 mins: Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

It looks like some Spurs fans are already leaving the stadium. Wow. What a 37 minutes for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal.

04:05 PM

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! (Saka) Arsenal 3 Spurs 0

Kane falls over with the ball at his feet, allowing Arsenal to counter. They breal down the right and Saka runs into the box. Kane, somehow, gets back to make a slide tackle but the ball falls to Saka after the challenge who slots it home first time. Stunning finish. Not a great moment for Kane.

04:02 PM

Xhaka justifying selection

04:01 PM

31 mins: Arsenal 2 Spurs 0

Arsenal have been the better team and Spurs, quite frankly, look off the pace. They need to get back into this game quickly.

03:59 PM

GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL! (Aubameyang) Arsenal 2 Spurs 0

Ramsdale nearly loses the ball in his own box but Arsenal just about escape. Smith Rowe then breaks down the left, finding Aubameyang in the middle of the box. The striker curls the ball into the bottom far corner with his left foot first time. Sublime finish while running onto the ball.

03:54 PM

24 mins: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Son picks out Tanganga who glances it over the bar. Decent chance, that.

Kane works some space outside the box but then sticks his shot into the packed stands.

03:52 PM

22 mins: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Alli gets to the by-line on the right but is robustly dealt with by Tierney. Arsenal counter but Son's wins it back on half-way. He drives forward into the box, hammering a shot with his left which is put behind for a corner by Ramsdale.

03:50 PM

20 mins: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Spurs mount a rare attack after defending the corner but fail to create anything of note.

03:47 PM

17 mins: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Aubameyang breaks down the left and fires a cross into the box. Saka somehow wins the race to the ball and finds Partey on the edge of the box. His curling effort is pushed around the post by Lloris for a corner. The resulting ball in is cleared by the rattled visitors.

Arsenal come again, Aubameyang releases from range and Lloris tips it over the bar for another corner.

03:45 PM

15 mins: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Reguilon is released down the left. He whips in a dangerous ball but Tierney scrambles it clear. It falls to Lucas who sends his through ball out for a goal kick.

03:44 PM

13 mins: Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Arsenal have been the better side and the crowd are right behind them. Tierney gets to the by-line but overcooks his cross. Arsenal retain possession.

03:42 PM

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! (Smith Rowe) Arsenal 1 Spurs 0

Odegaard breaks forward, releasing Saka into the box. The England winger squares it to Smith Rowe who rifles the ball home from close range. Arsenal have been the better side and they have made it count!

03:40 PM

10 mins: Arsenal 0 Spurs 0

Tanganga fouls Smith Rowe. The free kick is taken quickly but comes to nothing.

It is has been a frantic start to this match, but with little quality on show as of yet.

03:37 PM

7 mins: Arsenal 0 Spurs 0

Alli chips the ball over the Arsenal defence. Son latches on to it before firing a tame shot wide - the offside flag is then raised.

Arsenal put together a swift attack that ends with Aubameyang hitting a low shot towards goal - but he is also ruled offside after his attempt.

03:34 PM

4 mins: Arsenal 0 Spurs 0

Tierney probes down the left but is forced to turn back by Alli. On the other side of the pitch, Saka goes into the back of Reguilon. Free kick rightly given.

03:32 PM

2 mins: Arsenal 0 Spurs 0

This derby gets off to a suitably scrappy start. The crowd is extremely vocal as you'd expect.

Spurs break down the left wing but Son is dispossessed by a well-timed sliding tackle.

03:30 PM

Here we go!

Spurs get us under way.

03:29 PM

The players are out onto the pitch

There is a minute of applause for the late, great Jimmy Greaves.

03:21 PM

Is this Arsenal's strongest XI?

03:13 PM

Can Harry Kane find form today?

The England captain has struggled to match the very high level he has produced in previous seasons after his failed move to Man City.

This afternoon presents a perfect opportunity to prove his committment to Tottenham and show he is back to his best at the same time.

03:01 PM

It is fair to say Spurs have had a mixed start to the season

After winning their first three league games all 1-0 this season, Tottenham have lost 3-0 in both of their last two, with both matches being London derbies. Spurs have never lost three consecutive league games by 3+ goals in their entire history.

Can they get back to winning ways today?

02:48 PM

The Arsenal players look suitably serious as they arrive at the ground

02:37 PM

Team news recap - Xhaka is back

Granit Xhaka returns from suspension and comes straight back into the Arsenal starting line-up for the north London derby against Tottenham.

The Switzerland captain was sent off in Arsenal's 5-0 defeat at Manchester City before the international break but is recalled as the only change from the side that won at Burnley last weekend.

Tottenham head coach Nuno Espirito Santo makes three alterations from the 3-0 loss to Chelsea last week, with two coming in defence.

Japhet Tanganga returns at right-back with Davison Sanchez restored at centre-back and Lucas Moura replacing Giovani Lo Celso.

02:31 PM

The team news is in!

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Thomas, Smith-Rowe, Odegaard, Xhaka, Saka, Aubameyang.

Subs: Leno, Lacazette, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Cedric, Pepe, Tavares, Sambi Lokonga, Martinelli.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Tanganga, Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon, Ndombele, Hojbjerg, Alli, Lucas Moura, Kane, Son.

Subs: Romero, Gil Salvatierra, Emerson, Rodon, Lo Celso, Gollini, Skipp, Davies, Scarlett.

02:15 PM

This is a stat Spurs fans will not enjoy

Tottenham have won just one of their last 28 away league games against Arsenal (D11 L16), coming from behind to win 3-2 in November 2010.

01:02 PM

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of the north London derby

Mikel Arteta takes charge of his first north London derby in front of a full house today and has told his Arsenal players to reward their fans in "the most special game of the season".

With the coronavirus pandemic halting football just four months after Arteta's appointment, he has only experienced fans at a game with Tottenham on one occasion - 2,000 Spurs fans seeing their side beat Arsenal 2-0 last season.

It is over two years since supporters were able to watch a north London derby at the Emirates Stadium but Arteta is now looking forward to the experience.

"It is the most special game of the season at home, for sure," he said.

"It is a north London derby, and emotionally it is a different one to play and we know how much it means for our supporters as well.

"I will make sure that (the team) understand what it means: the history between the two clubs and where this rivalry comes from and what it means emotionally to all of our supporters.

"You have to play this game with a slightly different skin because there is a little bit more at stake."

Ahead of the September international break, Tottenham sat top of the Premier League with Arsenal rooted to the bottom.

Since then, however, Arsenal have won twice while Nuno Espirito Santo's side have slipped to back-to-back defeats.

It means a two-goal win for Arsenal would see them leapfrog their neighbours and Arteta believes three wins in a row, including the midweek Carabao Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon, sees his side go into the derby with momentum.

"There is a certain level of confidence when you are on a winning run that is really positive to face a big match," he added.

"We're all just trying to compete to win the football match. It won't be any different from them and both teams are going to try and win regardless because they have the necessity.

"We know what it means for us, this game."


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