Rick loves writing fantasy novels, and has an unending passion for football, cricket and music.
If you ask any Arsenal or Tottenham fan which they think is the biggest game of the season, their reply would be one and the same; the North London Derby. The fact that the game would determine who would end the week in Top 4 made it even more interesting. So, Arsenal’s dominant performance in the game in which they crushed Spurs 4-2 makes me super happy as a Gunner!
There was something different about this Arsenal team when compared to the ones we’ve seen in the past couple of seasons. Let us take a look at some of the key factors which helped the team thrash their traditional rivals that fateful day.
1. Unai Emery
There were lots of speculations floating around when Emery took over the reins from Arsene Wenger in May 2018. But he has silenced all critics with the way he has managed the team so far. His passion is clearly evident on the touchline at all times, and he has successfully instilled his ‘Never Give Up’ attitude into the team as can be seen from their performances this season. Another important trait of Emery is that he doesn't hesitate to make substitutions if things aren't going well or even bench key players if they are not performing. And December 2nd was no different. The substitutions he made at half-time were spot on and played a crucial role in the team's recovery.
Arsenal were unbeaten in 19 games at that point, and Unai Emery definitely had a huge role to play in it. With all due respect to Arsene Wenger, the team was in desperate need of some motivation after their shocking display last season, and Emery was able to provide just that.
Lucas Torreira has been without a question Arsenal’s best signing in the last 10 years. He is the kind of player that fans have been asking for since Vieira left. And he showed why during this match. The way he bossed the midfield, put in crucial tackles and even carried the attack forward is a testament to how good a player he is. He also managed to score his first Arsenal goal during this match, and the way he celebrated showed how much he is passionate about the club and how much he understands the importance of this fixture. Arsenal have indeed obtained a gem of a player in Torreira!
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now the top scorer in the league with 10 goals, with as many shots on target. Overall, he has now scored 20 goals for Arsenal in 27 Premier League games, which is the best start for an Arsenal striker bettering the likes of club legends like Thierry Henry and Ian Wright! And that day, he showed that he can deliver against big oppositions in high-pressure games, silencing many of his critics who argued that he would falter in the big games. His second goal was an absolute stunner, and it paved the way for a memorable Arsenal comeback after going down 2-1 in the first half.
4. The Fighting Spirit Within the Team
Not in a single league game this season has Arsenal managed to go into the second half with a lead, and this Derby was no different. But the difference in the team this season compared to the one last year is the fact that the players don’t let their heads drop and are willing to fight till the very end. True, the manager’s influence in this turnaround is huge, but the players themselves seem to have gelled together into an extremely well-knit group this season. And during this match, the passion was clearly evident on every single player’s face. When Tottenham equalized, a fight broke out between a few players after Eric Dier tried to silence the Arsenal faithful during his celebration. Even though it is always ideal to play the game on the pitch and not off it, the fact that some of the newly joined players like Lichsteiner and Guendouzi protested this celebration from Dier proves how much they understand what this derby means to the fans. The way the team managed to come back after going 2-1 down shows how much of a fighting spirit this team has.
5. The Fans
Last, but not the least, are the fans themselves who were nothing short of brilliant during this match. The way the fans encouraged the team after going 2-1 down definitely played a huge part in them coming back strong in the second half. Watching them support the team in full flow really made me wish that I was back in the UK and at the Emirates Stadium to see it!