Half-time emails: “All your best players are either attackers or attacking midfielders, no defenders or keepers,” says Richard Hirst. “Is that because our defenders and keepers are mediocre or because of inherent bias towards attack? The same issue arises in the debate about whether Pele, Cruyff, Maradona or Messi is the GOAT. What about Yashin, Zoff, Beckenbauer, Moore?”
I don’t think Yashin, Zoff and Moore were anywhere near as good as the best ever in their positions, and I also son’t think the current standard of keeper and defender is that high. But I agree we do underrate players who play there – when discussing the best of the Premier League era, for example, once you’ve done the top four – for my money, Keane, Ronaldo, Cantona and Henry because they decided who won most pots – I’d be looking at players who were legitimately the best at what they did, so would move on to Cole, Ferdinand, Schmeichel and Terry (if I didn’t object to including him on such lists, which I do).
at 12.23pm EST
Spurs haven’t had to play all that well to get to this point, but they’ve playing more than well enough for Arsenal, who have so little going forward and not a whole lot at the back.
Half-time: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Arsenal
This is over, isn’t it?
at 12.22pm EST
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Arsenal (Kane 45+1)
Hit the rewind. Lacazette sends a lovely ball in between left-back and centre-back that feeds Bellerin, but his cross is behind Aubameyang and Spurs break. One pass sets it all away and Lo Celso carries the ball through cewntrefield before finding Son, nashing down the inside-left channel. He waits for Kane to chug along his outside, lays into his stride, and WHAT A FINISH! A rising, whooshing howling bullet, in off the bar at the near post. Decent player, I reckon/
44 min Lacazette goes over the near side of the wall but it’s got a lot of tall men in it and Kane heads behind for a corner. It yields another…
43 min Arsenal win a free-kick 20 yards out, right of centre. Lacazette fancies it, for reasons known best to himself.
41 min Willian skips away from Lo Celso, who hacks him down. He’s booked and that’s fair enough, but I’m not sure how, in that context, Xhaka escaped the same sanction, twice.
40 min But they’re having a better period now, and when Aubameyang goes down the left and crosses, a bouncing ball causes problems and Willian looks to tame it with Reguilon mithering from behind. He does just enough to prevent his man from turning to shoot.
36 min “In Arteta, Arsenal thought they were acquiring early-period Pep,” tweets Gary Naylor, “but they appear to have late period Arsene.”
I’m not sure about that yet. It’s true that Arteta wasn’t qualified for the job in terms of stuff he’d done, but perhaps his plans for what he’d do were impressive. Either way, he’s only had the gig a year and was left a lot of work and not a lot of money, so we don’t yet know if he’s good or not. I doubt he’s forgotten that football teams need power and pace as well as guile and skill, which I always thought was Wenger’s problem from about 2006 onwards.
at 12.09pm EST
34 min Gary Nev and Jamie Redknapp observe that Spurs’ coaching staff “are like the mafia”, up and about complaining and challenging everything. Meanwhile, Lo Celso nicks the ball off Partey and dashes down the side of Holding, looking to find Kane inside the box, but Holding does really well to see him off at cost of a corner.
33 min “Amazed and jealous you heard from Shooby Taylor earlier,” says Peter Pearson. “I thought he had passed on to The Great VAR Review in the Sky. Spurs v Arsenal is behind a paywall here in the USA so I’m revisiting some of Shooby’s greatest hits while keeping up with the MBM.”
31 min Hjobjerg sticks his coupon in in amongst the ball and boots, so takes a few on the side while a small spot of bleeding is addressed.
31 min Tierney sticks the ball into the box and Spurs clear towards Kane, so Xhaka drags him down. Again, he avoids a card.
30 min “Charles Antaki asked what degree of collywobbles Arsenal fans are allowed to have,” says Kári Tulinius. “As an Arsenal fan myself, I just allowed myself to wonder if there are three worse teams in the league. I could think of two. I don’t believe this team will go down, but only because I think Arsenal panic buy an aging star in January who’ll bring enough.”
I think that’s harsh. Arsenal aren’t anywhere near as bad as the worst, but they’re miles off the best and don’t have anywhere near enough money to close the gap quickly.
29 min Spurs knock the ball about – they’re not that good, but they’re miles better than Arsenal and they know it.
28 min “Is it time to acknowledge that Son and Kane are not just two of the best 10 players in the league but also should be included in the top 10 players in the world in 2020?” asks Niall O’Keeffe. ‘Incredibly consistent. Could be their year. Jose knows a thing or two about winning.”
They are absolutely among the best in the world. I’d say those two, Salah, Mane, De Bruyne and Fernandes are the best in the league.
at 12.08pm EST
26 min Reguilon, who look as good as he looked for Sevilla, flies down the left and collects a pass from Dier. His cross is headed clear, but only as far as Hjobjerg, who panels a shot directly into Leno’s midriff.
24 min “Good point about Harry Kane,” emails Yash Gupta. “Even in documentary (although a PR exercise but still good nonetheless), he was first one to sit there before his teammates to listen to manager’s instructions most notable in Everton game. I also think it helps Jose that his main talisman is not the one with big ego and not doing defensive work. It might be a too much but it brings the dressing room level and leaves no room for big egos.”
Though I’d not say Kane is devoid of ego, he mainly has the sort that the best players have, I’m absolutely certain that he’s a joy to manage, and because he’s so consistently brilliant, no one in the dressing room has any way of undermining his authority. He’s like Roy Keane in that sense.
23 min Arsenal have had a fair bit of possession, but done very little with it. They need to get Saka and Partey on the ball higher up the park.
22 min “I have to say I didn’t realise how much i have missed the ‘ironic’ Cheers when an opposition player passes the ball straight in to touch,” laments Brendan Large. “Comedy gold!”
I’m looking forward to an “Ooooooh you’re **** …. ahhhhh!” from a goalkick.
21 min In commentary, Gary Neville notes that Bellerin is marking Dier – goodness me – but a decent corner, hit nice and flat, is headed away well by Holding. The problem for Spurs there was that it avoided the areas in which they had players waiting.
2o min Son drifts right and swings over a decent cross for Kane, but Holding is there to head behind.
16 min “Arteta is getting more credit than Emery, being likeable and a former player,” says Damian Durrant. “But owner Kroenke is all about money from European competition. If Arteta gets kicked out of Europe League and he is still in the bottom half he could well be out this season in my view.”
I think there’s more to it with Arteta – he’s an unknown, whereas Emery was a solid mid-ranking manager, which is why he’s back doing well with Villarreal. I agree things look bad at the moment, but unless things get a lot, lot worse, I’d give him a bit longer. He won a trophy last season!
14 min Looking at the goal again, Gabriel steps off Kane when he takes the ball down. You can’t be doing that.
OH MY DAYS WHAT A GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Arsenal (Son 13)
Dier throws a head at cross and Sissoko helps it on to Kane. You think you know the rest, but you don’t. Kane does brilliantly to control, coming off the front, then spreads it to Son – you guessed that bit – and he advances, while Holding back off, wanting none of him. But instead of attacking the space in behind, he opens his body 20 yards out and suddenly the whole world, Bernd Leno included, know what’s coming, but it’s done so perfectly that he nor anyone else can do anything about it, it being a screeching, howling curler that flies around the keeper and into the side-netting, halfway up. What a goal ! what a player! What a parnership!
at 11.58am EST
12 min Is this match the culinary highlight of the Premier League season? I can’t think of two others clubs whose grounds are in such close proximity to so much bazzing food.