Arsenal fell short again as the lost to eternal rivals Tottenham Hotspurs 0-2 in the EFL Cup quarter-finals. Goals from Heung-min Son and Delle Alli in either half were enough to down an underwhelming Gunners side. The 22-match unbeaten run under Emery came to an end in the last league fixture against Southampton on Sunday. Now they face another defeat this one being more painful as Spurs will consider this win as a reply to their league fixture defeat against Arsenal in the North London Derby.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men dictated terms right from the start as Arsenal also enjoyed their lions share of possession but only in phases. Son came up with the opening goal as he was sent clear by a defence-splitting ball from Delle Alli before the South Korean calmly slotted it past Petr Cech in the 21st minute.
Spurs backup goalie, Paulo Gazzaniga had a rare start and did prove his worth when he denied both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey in the first half.
Spurs did have the upper hand during halftime and started play accordingly as they kept on dictating terms and dominating the middle battle where actually the game was won. Pochettino’s introduction of Harry Kane was another step in the right director for the manager. The England international added a lot of firepower in the already leading away side.
However, it was Harry Kane’s through ball which allowed Dele Alli to lose his marker and produce a mesmerizing strike to send the ball past Cech.
Here are the talking points from the exciting derby clash from the EFL Cup clash:
- Mesut Ozil not included in Unai Emery’s plans?
Ozil was not given an opportunity in the game against Bournemouth as Emery though it will be too physical for the German. On asking why he was left out here in an important cup tie the Spaniard revealed it was due to tactical reasons. Emery played a 4-2-3-1 formation which is actually the best suited to someone like Mesut Ozil with Aaron Ramsey playing the no. 10 role. The former Real Madrid man has thrived in this formation over the years.
Ramsey’s career as Arsenal player is in it’s twilight with the board members agreeing that they won’t pay him a bigger contract, meaning the Welshman may leave the Emirates for free.
Although Unai Emery prefers the Welshman than the highest player at the club, as the former German international still has a two and half years contract remaining with the Gunners.
Ozil is reportedly over with his injury concerns and seems to be with full fitness and yet the Spaniard ignored him, to an extent that the German midfielder was not even on the bench in case they needed his services. it is clear that amidst all this transfer conundrum Emery’s choice is clear and he doesn’t seem to fancy the biggest superstar at the Emirates currently.
- Did Arsenal lack creativity in their midfield?
Emery field a starting eleven with Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouze as a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka played out of position to slot in central defence, as Emery is short of options due to injuries to fellow defenders.
This created chaos which Emery should have analysed before fielding a combination like this. Xhaka who is a stalwart in midfield for the Gunners was somewhat missing. His creativity and physical prowess in the middle was something they lack. Xhaka also has the ability to control the ball from the middle of the park which allows the forwards to go on darting runs.
With Torreira and Guendouzi, the problem was the game in the middle wasn’t controlled and composed, it was a bit too erratic and that’s where Tottenham won the battle and eventually won the match. Both the young midfielders are a huge assets to the side and there no a single doubt about it. But they are a bit too similar and when playing together this a point Unai Emery should be extra cautious.
- Dele Alli the difference between the two sides?
It was the England international who was fine form coming to this fixture, as the Lillywhites have lost the Derby fixture in the league this an opportunity for them to take revenge.
Delle who has featured in a more reserved role for Spurs this season has had an impressive season till now. The 22-year old was the in the mix of things with both the goals in their victory over Arsenal. The first goal was created by Alli whereas in the second goal he was fed by Harry Kane as he increased the lead.
Alli despite all the criticism of not replicating his best form from last season, has still been very prolific in front of goal and has created a lot of chances for his teammates as well. At the end of the day, the England international was actually the difference between the two sides.
- An opportunity missed by Arsenal?
The Gunners came so far in the tournament only to get knocked out by bitter rivals. Unai Emery saw his side suffer a loss in the weekend against Southampton which also ended their 22-match unbeaten run. The Spaniard should have been extra cautious about this fixture as he is rebuilding the squad and league title is not a realistic objective right now. But the EFL Cup was a trophy he could have added to his accolades if he would have taken more measures against a strong Tottenham side.
The League Cup could have been a trophy which could have allowed the Gunners side to strive for more in future. This cup has been increasingly important to clubs as the managers know that there aren’t a lot of trophies up for grabs.
Tottenham with this 2-0 will now head on to the semifinals along with Chelsea, Manchester City and Burton.