It did not go according to plan- Mikel Arteta about the North London derby

April 29, 2024

North London derby. Mikel Arteta acknowledged that he had been consulting Arsene Wenger before this match to receive guidance on how to cross the finish line in title chases. The largest tip he gave? “Discover a strategy to win football games.”

You could argue they did that twice in Sunday’s thrilling North London Derby.

Arsenal played a game that we haven’t seen much of them this season in the first half. For the majority of the first half, they remained firmly in their own box, trying to take advantage of Spurs on the counter. Mikel Arteta later said that it was not at all deliberate.

“They forced us,” he said. “We had an issue with the high press. We gave so many balls away, simple balls, our ball circulation wasn’t good enough. They commit so many players so their structure forces you as well to have one or two more players in certain areas that provokes you to be a little bit deeper.”

Most importantly, though, it worked. Despite having 28% of the play and two shots on goal, Arsenal led 3-0 at the half. This season, the Gunners have been so dominant in many games, yet in the North London Derby, of all games, they gave up the initiative and appeared to enjoy it.

The second half saw an Arsenal more like the one we’ve become used to this season. When Bukayo Saka‘s shot appeared to be headed for goal, Guglielmo Vicario’s outstretched boot kept the Gunners from scoring, allowing them to pin Spurs back and go ahead 4-0.

They were on their way to a historic triumph until Spurs were given a way back into the match by David Raya’s careless play. Arsenal continued to attack, though, and they weren’t really behind until Son Heung-Min’s late penalty. But once more, they shown that they are also capable of winning such kinds of matches. Despite their best efforts, Spurs were never able to seriously undermine Arsenal’s title challenge.

The fact that Arsenal would have had to witness Manchester City’s troubling victory at Nottingham Forest on the way back up the Seven Sisters Road may have been the one thing that spoiled the fun of the trip down.

At this point in the season, Pep Guardiola’s team is like a zombie in a horror film—slow moving but unavoidable.

However, Arsenal shouldn’t be too concerned about that at this time. It is difficult to hold a team that has dropped points in just two games throughout 2024 too harshly if they do not win the Premier League this season. North London derby