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What Harry Kane did to make Gabriel scream as Arsenal put Mudryk disappointment behind them

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Jubilation at Emirates as Arsenal set to announce triple signing of high-rated players after done deal

Good morning Arsenal and Chelsea fans, let’s takes a look back at the talking points from the Gunners 2-0 win over Spurs in the North London Derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

 

Arsenal players celebrate their north London derby win

Arsenal do it their way

If you were to look at the stats from this game you might think it was an even contest. Spurs shaded possession 51% to 49%, had 17 shots to Arsenal’s 14 and only mustered 0.34 expected goals less than their opponents. Make no mistake though Tottenham were about as close to Arsenal on Sunday as the Virgin Orbit got to space.

Despite a decent start it was Arsenal who edged ahead in contest motoring through the gears to cause Hugo Lloris’ own goal, before putting pedal to the metal for Martin Odegaard to seal the game with a long range strike. From that point the race was effectively won, and though it would be wrong to say the Gunners coasted in the second half, there was never any moment were it looked as though the three points wouldn’t be making the trip back down the Seven Sisters Road.

What Harry Kane did to make Gabriel scream as Arsenal put Mudryk disappointment behind them

Key to the dominance of the win was Arsenal’s victory in the midfield battle. Mikel Arteta’s tactic of inverting full backs has ensured that his side have been centrally superior for much of this season and Sunday’s match was no different. Oleksandr Zinchenko tucked in to flood the midfield alongside Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Odegaard leaving Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Pape Matar Sarr gasping for air.

Submerging opponents in a red sea is nothing new for the Gunners, but doing it away to their bitter north London rivals certainly is. This a fixture where Arsenal had not won for nearly a decade with May’s most recent failure of all fresh in the minds of many who played at the weekend. Instead of carrying the baggage of their traumatic past though, this was an Arsenal side liberated by the confidence in their own game plan, and it was this that pleased Arteta most of all.

“I saw a team with a lot of courage, determination, quality and that really wanted it today to come here and win,” the Spaniard said in his post-match press conference before going on to add: “We know that we are here because of the way we play and the way that we are and the way that we live together and the unity that we have.”

It is this that makes Arsenal so exciting. While Spurs continue to wonder around like a teenager searching for their identity, the Gunners group of young adults are maturing nicely.

Ramsdale rumble

For all the heroics Aaron Ramsdale pulled off during the game on Sunday, it’s sadly the incident after it that he’ll be most associated with. The England ‘keeper is known by this point for engaging with opposition supporters and so it was hardly a shock to see him react to the full time to the taunts he’d been subjected to all second half.

It was at this point when Richarlison, the Tottenham hardman with the intimidation-factor of Scrappy Doo, decided to forget his showboating antics at Nottingham Forest earlier this season and become a fully paid up member of the celebration police. It’s undoubtable that this petulant overreaction emboldened the moronic Spurs spectator to boot Ramsdale in the back before scurrying off into the crowd in an incident that should be looked at the by the real police.

Mikel Arteta intervened smartly to drag Ramsdale away from the fracas and before rather comically sprinting back in the thick of the action to do the same with Granit Xhaka. After the game though the Spaniard was keen to ensure this didn’t take the shine off what was a superb display from his number one.

“We will deal with that,” Arteta said. “There’s nothing we can do right now. I don’t want that taking 0.0001% of the enjoyment and satisfaction that we have at this moment. We will deal with that tomorrow.”

With that in mind let’s pay attention to the superb match Ramsdale had. By his own admission the 24-year-old would probably accept that it’s been a bit of a difficult second album after a smash hit first of season. Within that have been occasional lapses in concentration, that were unseen in his early days but his focus was back to it’s very best on Sunday.

Even in the first half when Arsenal were on top Ramsdale was forced to make two smart saves to keep out Heung Min-Son and Harry Kane. As the intensity rose in the second half so did the levels of his performance. The standout moment was probably his left-footed save from Ryan Sessegnon, but the calmness he transmitted as Spurs swung in cross after cross was the best part of his display. Contrast that to the jitteryness that rippled out from Hugo Lloris at the other end of the pitch and it was simply night and day.

It’s easy to forget how young Ramsdale still is, and consistency is toughest thing for players his age to find. As the stakes get higher this season, it seems as though he is discovering his best form again and it couldn’t be more timely for Arsenal.

No Mudryk no problem

Such is the madness of the transfer window in this day and age, that it was genuinely hard to remember there was a game happening, let alone the North London Derby. Instead of build up to this huge match, Sunday had been dominated by one of the strangest transfer sagas in recent memory.

After months of publicly posturing for a move to Arsenal on social media, Mykhaylo Mudryk pulled a U-turn that politicians would be proud of by switching to join Chelsea. From an Arsenal perspective, there is obvious disappointment at missing out on their main target this month, but as the details of the Mudryk move emerge it seems more and more understandable why they had to walk away.

Chelsea have signed Mudryk on a contract that could last up to eight and a half years, for a fee that football.london understands to be around Shakhtar Donetsk’s £88million valuation of the winger. The Ukrainian may go on to become a Balon d’Or winner as his former manager Roberto De Zerbi has suggested he could be, but when you consider that he has played just 65 matches in his professional career it is a heck of a gamble to go so big on him at this stage. Although he has be consistent in stating that he wants reinforcements in January, from his post-match response it did seem as though, Mikel Arteta was understanding of the club’s unwillingness to take such a risk.

“We have excellent players and we want to improve our squad in this transfer window – when I say we I mean, myself, the coaching staff, the staff players, the board and the ownership – we all want to do that,” he told football.london . “But we will do the deals we can do and the ones we feel are right for the club.”

Arsenal have missed out on targets such as Raphinha, Dusan Vlahovic and Lisandro Martinez already in their current project, and Mudryk is another to add to that list. It certainly is a disappointment, but having opened eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table, the Gunners aren’t about to stop trusting the process that got them there in the first place.

Title talk

The narrative around Arsenal’s unexpected title challenge now quickly seems to be shifting. Whereas before it was a question of whether the Gunners could win the Premier League, what’s now being asked is whether they’ll lose it.

Arsenal are eight points clear at the top and 47 points from 18 matches marks their best start to a Premier League campaign ever. To not win the league from here would certainly be disappointing, and would most likely require a pretty dramatic drop off in form.

However, Mikel Arteta is all too wary of falling into that trap. Rather than creating a pressure cooker environment by addressing these questions head on, he made it clear with his post-match answer, that he’s keen to let his side simmer away.

“It’s a great position to be in,” he said. “Let’s enjoy the moment and keep focusing. The enjoyment is going to come if we keep focusing on what we have to do.”

This may seem like deflection tactics but the Spaniard probably does have a point. An eight point lead after 18 matches is impressive, but the Thanos-like inevitability of Manchester City, means no one is getting too comfortable at the top.

This was evident in a second half display where Arsenal were switched on till the very last embers of this traditionally firey fixture. As Harry Kane fouled Gabriel late on, the Brazilian hauled himself and screamed a jubilant “come on!” to celebrate a chance for his side to run the clock down that bit more.

Those scenes did little match the elation of the full time whistle when the Arsenal players sprinted over to their away fans to revel in a historic victory. The Gunners didn’t expect to be here at this point of their journey, but if that’s anything to go by, it seems that they are intent on enjoying the ride.

For some fans though it’s a different matter and nerves are prohibiting them from revelling in what is the best football seen in north London for nearly two decades. With it being the New Year, perhaps it’s time for Arsenal supporters to start fresh and ditch their worrisome predilections. Be nervous in April. This is the time of year to enjoy yourselves.

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