London ball

Tottenham and Harry Kane showed up for North London derby, Arsenal collapsed – The Warm-Up

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Cheek

For Arsenal, the only consolation is that it could have been worse. Bukayo Saka could have retired at halftime and gone to live out his days on a small island somewhere in the South Atlantic. Granit Xhaka could have been arrested mid-game for fraud. Or Rob Holding could have been kicked out minutes before he was kicked out. Lucky escape, really. I don’t know what Mikel Arteta is complaining about.

premier league

‘If I had to put money on it’ – Neville backs Spurs to beat Arsenal to fourth place

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The North London Derby is only part football. It is above all a quivering contest of will and nerve, as the Premier League’s two most existentially vulnerable big teams look each other in the eye and see, reflected back, the deep uncertainty within themselves. . Someone always does something stupid. The trick is to make sure the other batch cracks first.

And that’s more or less what Tottenham did. Put the pressure on, drill into the weak spots in the Arsenal defence, wait for the silly decisions to follow. Look, Rob Holding pulls Son Heung-min to the ground. Look, it’s Cedric charging through his own penalty area and into Son’s back. Look, there’s Holding blocking Son’s run. Whistle, whistle, whistle. Yellow, penalty, yellow and red.

Asked about the refereeing after the game, Arteta reinvented the classic ‘If I talk I’m in big trouble’, announcing that ‘If I say what I think I’m suspended for six months’. And you can understand his frustration. None of the decisions were wrong, per se, but all existed in that spongy zone of officiating discretion. Is it a day of letting go or a day of whistle for everything? Ah. The last. “A beautiful game was destroyed,” Arteta continued, rather overlooking the fact that, for neutrals, it was exactly what everyone had listened to see.

Reading the referee is a skill. So plays the referee. Tottenham, collectively, were much better in the former, and Son might be the Premier League’s best performer in the latter. Everything that happens to him also happens to the referee; it’s not so much theatrics as it’s a constant recording. Felt that one. Felt that one too. Oooh, that stung. You understand all that, ref? AIE Aie Aie.

This is not a criticism. That’s high praise. In theory, football is a game of space and ball manipulation; in practice, before it all starts to matter, it’s a game of manipulating people. Opponents, officials and ultimately yourself. A great occasion, a picky referee, a screaming crowd: these are weapons to use or neutralize. Tottenham gave Arsenal the chance to make a fool of themselves and Arsenal blundered, all clown shoes and squirty flowers.

Perhaps the other consolation for Arteta and the Arsenal hierarchy is that little of what last night revealed about their setup was new or unexpected. Everyone already knew they were leading a small team; everyone already knew that Cédric is a handicap, that Holding is a vulnerability, and so an injury here or there could make things very awkward. No summer plan will need to be revised. Lows are lows, and they were lows in January.

‘Stop complaining!’ – Blunt tale with Arteta after Tottenham beat Arsenal

This race for the fourth so

You know, maybe we’re expecting too much from teams that drop out for fourth place. After all, if Arsenal had a deep and well-rounded squad, with the ability to cover injuries and disciplinary crises, then they would probably have more points and none of that would matter. And if Tottenham weren’t the kind of team to randomly lose to Burnley for no good reason, they wouldn’t be worried about randomly losing to Burnley for no good reason.

At the start of the campaign, if you had offered Arteta two games against 14th and 16th to seal Champions League football, he would have shaken your hand. If you had then added: ‘Oh but one of them is at Newcastle and they were bought by Saudi Arabia and are pretty good now, and also all your centre-backs are injured or suspended’ he might have -be started asking questions. Like “Who are you? Are you from the future? How do you know all this?” And then, “Where’s the safety?”

Presumably, Arteta has a strategy in mind to keep his team focused and keep the fear at bay. But every Arsenal fan in the country will be spending the next few days dreaming, and they won’t be easy dreams. Joelinton runs through midfield. Granit Xhaka coaster. Chris Wood stands up. Shelvey is coming… wake up! Wake up! It’s only Friday morning!

So Tottenham have the easiest job, right? Not just in opposition terms – 17th and 20th, although with the caveat that Burnley may still need something – but in terms of the overall sense of how things should be. Easier to chase than to be chased; easier to look forward than over your shoulder. To the right?

Everything depends. Which is stronger, the Barclays’ footballing savvy or magical narrative power? Arsenal, the no-nonsense, decent and largely competent football team, only need two fairly common wins. Arsenal, the explosive headache, must avoid total collapse in the face of their own shortcomings. Which will we have on Monday? Your guess is as good as Arteta’s.

Philip, carry on

At 7.13pm yesterday, Aston Villa announced the permanent signing of Philippe Coutinho on an ‘undisclosed fee’. Four minutes later, Barcelona announced the same transfer, but happily confessed to receiving only 20 million euros in return. All those painstaking negotiations, and they forgot to be mysterious.

It’s part of the Steven Gerrard effect: a pinch of elite charm that makes Villa stand out among the Premier League midfield. It’s no disrespect to Dean Smith to note that this move probably won’t happen if he’s still in charge. There is also no guarantee that it will work, for any given work value. But it’s pretty exciting anyway, and that’s what earns you a big name. The right to be exciting when you spend your money.

And that formally ends Coutinho’s story at Barcelona, ​​a hugely expensive lesson in how not to run a football club. They probably didn’t need him, and they certainly didn’t need to spend so much on him. And they really didn’t need him to go on loan to Bayern Munich and then come in for the final rites of that Humiliation 8-2. We need the most obvious metaphor for a totally out of control club that doesn’t know what it’s doing. No, it’s too obvious.

RETRO CORNER

Luton Town start their play-off campaign tonight, which is all the excuse we need to pop this here. 39 years ago today (er, tomorrow), Raddy Antic scored a really well-taken 86th-minute goal to knock Manchester City down and keep Luton in Division One. And off we go David Pleat, bouncing, bouncing, and shuffling across the Maine Road lot.

HAT TIP

I enjoyed this piece Guardian by Emma Kemp, a return to the wild life and predictions of Celtic’s new winning manager, Ange Postecoglou. It turns out that the key to being a good manager is simply to predict that you can win anything, in any setting: most of the time, it comes true!

He is, after all, a man who predicted on more than one occasion that Australia could win the World Cup. “For the neutral, the sentiment seems coarse,” writes Kemp. “For the Australians who saw their national team advance to the Russia 2018 final via the playoffs (don’t mention three at the back), it’s infuriating. But it’s also pleasing in its consistency. Wherever he goes, with any team, the relentless plan remains.”

COMING

As noted, the Championship play-offs begin tonight. They play 46 matches just to set it all up, just to break tens of thousands of hearts in a little more elaborate way than usual. What a sport it is. It’s Luton v Huddersfield at Kenilworth Road.

Good weekend to all. Tom Adams will be there on Monday to tell you all about the preparation of Newcastle 1-0 Arsenal (Shelvey 87′).

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Conte urges Arteta to ‘stop complaining’ after Spurs beat Arsenal to open top four race

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