LONDON — In an effort to be the crew Michael Arteta wants to see, the Arsenal has once again shown what it really is. Tottenham defeated Arsenal 2-0 on Sunday and no one can be surprised how that happened. Nobody except Arteta, who endowed his team with a bigger attacking goal than in many of Arsenal’s big games, fell gently into the trap that Jose Mourinho has always wanted to set.
Anyone who knows anything about the method that helped Spurs to the top of the Premier League will understand the meaning and form of Sung Heung Min and Harry Kane, who give an otherwise conservative approach a swipe of the sheet. Spurs defeated Manchester City two weekends ago, but at least there was a sense of danger when Pep Guardiola’s side was singled out for a bigger goal than Arsenal had achieved at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Arteta team could play for another half hour and failed to score a goal. So the Spurs had to dig for damage and defend what they had.
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In fact, it was another entry in the catalogue of disturbing depictions of naivety and painful blasphemy that cost Artema’s predecessor her work.
Simply put: Arsenal took a break for many years, mostly at the Emirate Stadium. The landscape has changed, but the story remains the same. The Gunners won the English Cup last season thanks to Arteta’s very effective counter-attack style and gave up property and territory for the city and Chelsea before being eliminated at halftime. The third rear was of the utmost importance for achieving this greater balance and stability, but here it went to the 4-2-3-1 shape with a slight effect.
The Sunday broadcast was more in line with Arteta’s expectations, but it was even more proof that with their current team they simply can’t play against the best games this way.
As for the match, they did everything I asked them to do, Artem said after the match. We’ve played like I think we should play this game. If you look at all the stats, they’re in our favour, but in the end it’s all about getting the ball into the field.
We’ve had chances, we’ve probably generated more than ever this season, we’ve put the ball in the penalty area more than ever, we’ve had numbers, but at the end of the day you have to score goals. Results are needed to build something.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Arsenal inexplicably deviated from the style that proved so successful compared to the top teams and was captured by Mourinho when Spurs ran out of comfortable winners. Catherine Iville/Getty Pictures
The arsenal lacks the quality to dictate conditions in midfield without making itself vulnerable to counter-attacks. That’s why Artema tried to conclude a contract with two central midfielders in the summer; it also explains the play by Thomas Parteus, who, despite private bookings, has not yet fully recovered from his hip problem. The way Artema pushed the injured party on the pitch in the desperate hope of stopping the traces that had scored on the counter-attack illustrates the saga of the problem.
Probably the most crushing accusation of Arsenal in general was that Mourinho was too eager to give the ball to them. The tracks were on the edge of their box, waiting for the arsenal to collapse. Granite Xaka in horror allowed Kane to turn and launch Tottenham on the counterattack, and Rugby attacked him in the second minute, but the England captain was able to escape too easily to play in the Sound in the room on the left, played only 13 minutes.
Hector Bellerin made the first of a series of errors – later, in 11 Premier League matches, he committed his fifth foul – and watched the ball to give the son time to get into the right leg before the Spurs striker made an excellent curling throw that didn’t give Bernd Leno a chance. My son scored 10 goals in the league this season: as many as Arsenal.
Long periods of sterile possession of the arsenal, threatened by traces, followed, and visitors were seen again. This time the Kane boy shot the bar with his left foot.
Son and Kane scored 31 goals in the league, with only Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard (36) having the best record. You’ve probably heard it already, because everyone’s heard it. But the Arsenal was taken. Of course Arteta knows that too. He is a conscientious and hardworking manager who tries to bring the Arsenal back to the terrible presence of the Arsen-Wenger summit.
Stopping the Kane-Son axis is clearly easier said than done, but Arteta abandoned the short-term pragmatism that had brought him promising results for a more comprehensive strategy against Tottenham, who eventually withdrew. Somehow he tried to run before he could walk.
The arsenal ended with 69.2% ownership and only two shots at the target, both of which were the second half of Alexander Lazeta’s head. They tried 44 crosses – a strange procedure for a team that’s so bad in the air. All this was of course thanks to another perfectly organised and disciplined performance by Tottenham, with Pierre-Emile Hoybjerg at the centre. It wasn’t the loudest signature of the summer, but the arrival of Hoybjerg from Southampton, with £15 million, is a huge factor in making Mourinho play the way he wants.
Sergio Regulon’s dynamic style on the left side of his back helps the tracks move at lightning speed. Gareth Bale looked, just like he did against Chelsea, the whole game like an unused reservation.
The arsenal should be just as revealing in the marketplace in the future. Arteta had previously adapted the style of football he wanted to play to give his team more stability, but somewhere along the way they lost the danger of an attack, giving them the chance to fight in almost every match. The challenge for Arteta now is to find a way to achieve more consistent results in the short term before the Arsenal review team urgently needs them.
It’s very simple. We have to score goals. Otherwise it doesn’t matter what we do in other areas, Artem said. If we don’t score a goal, there’s nothing we can do, so we have to put the ball straight into the net.
The magnitude of the task inherited by the Spaniard is widely acknowledged, but Arsenal is now in 15th place in the standings, 11 points behind their fiercest rivals. On top of that, another pain awaits us, which will be amplified by Tottenham’s continued rise as a true title contender.