Four things Arteta got wrong as Arsenal beaten in North London derby

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Tottenham blew the race for the top four wide open on Thursday night by beating North London rivals Arsenal 3-0 in a mesmerising display.

Harry Kane opened the scoring for Spurs from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute to extend his great record in this fixture. Heung-Min Son was initially brought down by Cedric Soares at the back post as he tried to defend a cross.

Things went from bad to worse for the Gunners shortly after Rob Holding was given his marching orders for two bookable offences. The second of which, a raised elbow towards Heung-Min Son, was widely regarded by many as a red card offence alone.

Kane then made it two in the 37th minute, with the England international heading home at the back post from close-range following a flick-on from a corner to send the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium into a frenzy. The halftime break provided Arteta with the chance to re-inspire his side, but 75 seconds after the restart it was 3-0 as Son grabbed his 21st goal of the season.

Plenty went wrong on the pitch, though some of the blame certainly lies with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. Daily Star Sport takes a look at four things the Spaniard got wrong in one of his side's most important games of the season.

Cedric decision proved costly

Arteta’s decision to play Takehiro Tomiyasu in left-back on paper should have strengthened Arsenal, but instead, it simply exposed his side’s weaknesses down the right. Both Cedric and Holding were both made a mockery of by Son down the left, with the Korean’s rapid pace causing them a world of problems.

After a few early fouls, alarm bells will have been ringing for Arteta – especially as his side were slow out of the blocks whereas Spurs stole the initiative and were on the front foot from the get-go. Had Tomiyasu had been played on the right, many will feel that Son may have had a tougher evening.

But that was always an option as Nuno Tavares, a left-back by nature, could have enabled Tomiyasu to go back onto his more favoured side. The former Benfica star has struggled to make an impression since making the move this summer and was even dropped in favour of Granit Xhaka in defence instead – which was another option for Arteta too.

Slow decision-making

After Holding was sent off, Ben White – who was not deemed fit enough to start the match – began a more vigorous warm-up and likely would have been brought on in place of one of the attackers to form a back four again. However, Arteta’s reluctance to bring on the former Brighton centre-back quickly proved costly as moments later Kane scored his second.

Speaking at half-time, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said: “I must admit, the manager gets it wrong too. Once you lose your centre back, the first thing you do is get another one on as soon as you can. He should have got Ben White on, all of his staff are trying to figure out what to do, they are then left short and are done by a set-piece when they needed a centre back because they are not the tallest team either."

White was then rested for the remainder of the match, perhaps given that the result was a foregone conclusion by the 47th minute, and now looks likely to start against Newcastle now that Holding is suspended.

Cool heads

Tensions were always going to be high for a North London derby where Champions League football was on the line, but pre-match Arteta insisted that his side would keep a cool head and not rise to the occasion. How wrong he was.

Just minutes into the game, his players were flying into tackles and getting involved in unnecessary scuffles. It almost felt inevitable that his side would be reduced to ten men at some point, but the manner in which Holding was dismissed only exemplified that his side were far from calm.

To cut across Son with his elbow raised was immature and asking for trouble, and referee Paul Tierney duly obliged. With two games remaining and the race for the top four now blown over, Arteta must instil calm and coolness into his side or they will throw away all of their hard work up to this stage.

Failing to stop the obvious

Tottenham have been unplayable at times when they've been able to get the ball forward to Kane and Son, and Arteta will have gone into the game knowing he needed to cut the pair off. However, it seems he forgot entirely that Spurs had two of the best attackers in the league, and failed to implement any game plan to stop them.
The two Tottenham forwards ran riot in the opening half hour as Arsenal failed to have any real presence in the middle of the park, and allowed the game to bypass them completely. Cutting off long balls would also have stopped the ball to Son which led to Holding's horrendously stupid second yellow card.

  • Arsenal FC
  • Tottenham Hotspur FC
  • Mikel Arteta

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