We learnt from the Arsenal vs Tottenham match
KANE’S FINISHING INSTINCT CAN’T BE REPLACED, BUT HE LACKED SHARPNESS It was immediately clear that Tottenham’s goal threat was back. The return of Harry Kane almost paid off in the first half when his glancing header narrowly missed creeping inside the far post, and had he been at full match fitness, there’s a case to argue that he would have got himself onto the end of Son Heung-min’s dangerous cross before that. But as it was, a seven-week lay-off took its toll. Kane just lacked that half a step needed to make the difference, with his touch letting him down on occasion. That said, you could see the difference between him and Vincent Janssen, left on the bench, with the amount of dangerous balls Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi had to deal with.
XHAKA PLAYING HIS WAY INTO CAZORLA’S ROLE Heading into his first north London derby, the pressure appeared to be on Granit Xhaka and his well-documented disciplinary record, having been sent-off in his last league outing at the Emirates against Swansea. Even Arsene Wenger addressed it in his pre-match press conference, and confirmed he had spoken to Xhaka about improving his temperament. But instead of cracking under the pressure, Xhaka thrived. He also displayed a wonderful touch with the ball at his feet.
ARSENAL STILL DON’T CONVINCE AT THE BACK DESPITE IMPROVEMENTS For everything that Mustafi has brought to the side this season, he’s still just short of the talent of Koscielny. The pair work very well together, but Mustafi just has that odd mistake in his locker. He was left exposed when Son spun past and sprinted away from him in the opening minutes, and for all his dominance in the air, it looks like it is on the floor against speed merchants were he struggles a bit. Mustafi remains the best option Wenger has had to partner Koscielny but as time wears on we’ll understand more if he is the long-term solution to the Arsenal defence.
POCHETTINO’S WIMMER GAMBLE FAILS TO PAY OFF Kevin Wimmer was a surprise inclusion when then team sheets landed in the media centre, half-caused by Dele Alli’s absence and also by Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to switch to a 34-3. It was a decision that sparked questions, and almost immediately provided the wrong answers for the Spurs manager. Wimmer charged late into Coquelin to pick up a yellow card in the sixth minute, and it would only get worse when he headed the ball into his own net from Özil’s free-kick. If the Argentine is to stick with this 3-4-3 formation, then he needs to wait until Toby Alderweireld is fit to return.
EUROPE TAKES ITS TOLL – AGAIN Two weeks’ ago, all four Champions League sides failed to win their first Premier League game after their exploits in Europe. Come fulltime at the Emirates, only Leicester City had the chance to buck that trend but they too fell short after losing 2-1 to West Brom. Manchester City were held by Middlesbrough despite taking a wave of momentum from their victory over Barcelona, and come the final five minutes of the north London derby, both Arsenal and Spurs looked to be running on empty.