USA About: Arsenal Publish: 05/13/2022 Edit: 05/13/2022 Author: Gardener
LONDON - Looking back, Arsenal should perhaps have played this game back in January. At least then they wouldn't have had to face Heung-min Son at the peak of his devastating powers. Four months on from the postponement that sparked such outrage across the Premier League - Arsenal had invoked the competition's COVID-19 protocols to postpone games when they had just one case of the virus in their squad and a row of absenteeism for other reasons – Tottenham clinched a win that was worth the wait for fans as they witnessed the first competitive north London derby played in front of fans in their new home. It was a stage dazzlingly lit by Son who is now just a goal away from the Golden Boot and is quickly catching up to Mohamed Salah with eight of his last seven. They were certainly enough to put Antonio Conte's side past an opponent who squandered a chance for Champions League football at the home of their great rivals. Arsenal were no less the architects of their own downfall than the South Koreans, especially as they set the pace from the start. If Martin Odegaard hadn't slipped as he strained to shoot, Hugo Lloris might have been tested more seriously as Gabriel Martinelli was able to beat Emerson Royal at will. Even the home crowd, perhaps louder than they had since the stadium opened just over three years ago, murmured dissatisfaction as the visiting four pushed Tottenham back in their own half. Gabriel threw himself into challenges like he might never win the ball back, but the real cause for concern lay at the other end. Arsenal clearly had Son planned. They just got it all wrong. In their win over Chelsea, another exponent of the back three, Arsenal had introduced a fluid system that could quickly get Bukayo Saka to keep up with the opposition. This time, Mikel Arteta was banking on a Four to quell Tottenham's devastating attack. Each time he kicked five yards into the field, responsibility for suppressing the No.7 switched from Cedric to Rob Holding, who had clearly concluded it was his responsibility to prevail against Son. In all honesty, it felt more like a player who knew the dark arts were the only way to stop their opponent and had their nerves masquerading as street smarts. In an early challenge, Holding Son flipped WWE-style, an absolutely brazen act that begged Paul Tierney to take action. The South Korean's slight elbow, on the other hand, could be watched half a dozen times without knowing what an appropriate punishment might be. The red was inevitable, although Arteta was less than impressed with the specific decision that forced Holding off the pitch. "I can't [talk about refereeing]," he said. "I want to be on the sidelines on Monday night. You can ask the referee to come and give an assessment of the game. I have two options, I can lie to you, which I won't, or I can." can be suspended and I really want to be on the sidelines against Newcastle." Of the 13 red cards in Arteta's tenure, five more than any other team, this was certainly controversial, a somewhat cynical but hardly malicious shoulder check as Son stormed away. However, as the game went at the time it was clear that had Holding avoided a second yellow there he would only have delayed the inevitable The Arsenal heads were gone and could not contain their outrage at the penalty that put Spurs ahead It was certainly a marginal call, but Cedric seemed more interested in competing with his man than winning the ball when Dejan Kulusevski's cross came into the box The moment Kane stepped in to the penalty spot, he knew Conte that the result was never in doubt Within 15 minutes the game was won comfortably Four minutes after Holdings Rot Arsenal scored conceded and a man down, Rodrigo Bentancur doubled a corner to an unmarked Kane at the back post. Even in all the chaos, there were reminders of what could have been for Arsenal. Son would deliver that crushing blow, the first crucial instance in the game where Arsenal might not have been able to be more defensive. Gabriel did well to block Kane's shot and one would have thought there were enough bodies behind to get in the way when the ball got to Arsenal's tormentor. A stabbed right footed finish somehow sent the ball squeaking through the undergrowth and gave Son the goal he so deserved. In truth, Arsenal already knew by then that there was no turning back, which was the most logical explanation for Ben White's fitness not being tested after he will be out for at least two weeks with a hamstring problem. Even if he's back for the trip to Newcastle on Monday, the defense could look even more of a mishmash as Gabriel hobbled out late for grabbing his hamstring. In such circumstances, it might be worth remembering that fourth place remains in the hands of Arsenal. Beat Newcastle and Everton and Thursday's derby means nothing for Tottenham but bragging rights. And yet, as those 10 downed players who had made it to the end trudged over to a rapidly emptying section, an immediate revival at St James' Park seemed an unlikely scenario, such was the damage Son had inflicted on them .
Keywords: Tottenham, Kane, Gabriel, first, Newcastle, Arteta, Cedric, Arsenal, four, two, five, three, one, fourth, second, eight, 13, 10, St James' Park, Thursday, Everton, Beat Newcastle, Monday, at least two weeks, Ben White's, Rodrigo Bentancur, Holdings Rot Arsenal, Four minutes