Arsenal and Tottenham are both struggling to find their feet in the Premier League. The North London club’s recent win over Manchester United has given them hope, but it remains to be seen whether they can take advantage of that opportunity.
The premier league is the world’s most popular soccer league. Arsenal and Tottenham are both struggling in their respective leagues, but only Arsenal look capable of climbing out of their hole.
LONDON, United Kingdom — The task confronting Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur these days is the same: restore their previous greatness. However, after Sunday’s resounding 3-1 Gunners victory, it seems that just one of these old rivals knows how to go about it. It’s very early to judge a team’s ambitions in late September, but the way in which Arsenal won this one-sided match gave the impression that the Gunners are looking to the future while Spurs are stuck in the past.
Six players under the age of 23 were part of Arsenal’s £140 million summer buying binge. On Sunday, four of them started in a squad with an average age of just over 24, a profile boosted even more by the presence of their two brightest homegrown stars, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who both scored and embodied the club’s passion and effort throughout.
They started with a sense of purpose that Spurs lacked. Spurs’ demeanor was compounded by an odd game plan in which they seemed to want to defeat Arsenal without using a midfielder. Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele left the middle area of the field much too frequently, leaving Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg totally overwhelmed as the home side poured all over him.
LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, and more on ESPN+ – Watch ESPN FC every day on ESPN+ (U.S. only) – If you don’t have ESPN, you’re out of luck. Get immediate access
Spurs regained their composure in the second half, but the game had long since finished as a battle, as Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Saka pushed Arsenal into a three-goal advantage within 34 minutes, the fastest either team has ever scored in a north London rivalry. Throughout a half in which replacements Oliver Skipp and subsequently Emerson provided them a little energy, Son Heung-Min scored a 79th-minute consolation to bring a measure of respect to the scoreboard, but don’t be fooled: Spurs were almost completely missing during the parts of the game that really mattered.
Harry Kane finally made his appearance. Even if it was just a ghost of his best, it was an improvement over what had come before, with a low shot from outside the box testing Aaron Ramsdale before lifting another attempt wide of the goal after a superb first touch. Despite this, he has yet to score in the Premier League this season.
At full-time, Kane applauded an almost completely empty Spurs end, encapsulating the current state of affairs: a player who doesn’t want to be at the club attempting to recognize fans who had already departed disillusioned with the team’s attitude. Kane was denied the summer transfer to Manchester City that he desired, but his mind seems to be somewhere else.
It continues to be one of Nuno Espirito Santo’s most urgent concerns. In May, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said that the club will hire a coach to replace Jose Mourinho who would “return to playing football in the manner for which we are renowned — free-flowing, aggressive, and exciting.”
The uncertainty that ensued — chasing a number of candidates to an advanced level, including Hansi Flick, Erik ten Hag, Antonio Conte, and Paulo Fonseca, to mention a few — before deciding on Nuno has spilled onto the field. Spurs just do not know what kind of team they are aiming to be, trapped between Mauricio Pochettino’s ambition and Jose Mourinho’s pragmatism.
Nuno said frankly, “A lot of things went wrong, beginning with the choices I made.” “We didn’t make good decisions, therefore the game plan didn’t work out.”
The appearance of Spotify owner Daniel Ek beside Arsenal icon Thierry Henry at Emirates Stadium was a reminder of the change of ownership many in attendance would still want to see despite Kroenke Sports & Entertainment’s (KSE) summer expenditure — but the parallel at Spurs is obvious.
In Sunday’s north London derby at the Emirates, Arsenal defeated Tottenham 3-1. Getty
After a shaky start, KSE stuck with Mikel Arteta because they trusted in the Spaniard’s vision for the future. There’s no guarantee that this optimism will last — confidence in these parts is notoriously fickle — but Arteta can now point to a concrete return to back up his talk of “process” and “transition,” managerial buzzwords that may be hollow without the results to back them up.
Under his leadership, Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2022, but only after adopting a defensive strategy aimed at containing and countering the strongest teams, namely Manchester City and Chelsea in the semifinal and final. To the boisterous delight of the red-clad supporters, their win against Tottenham was the polar opposite: they were on the front foot throughout, overpowering their bitterest rivals with an irresistible combination of brilliance and control.
“You have to remain true to your principles when you’re trying to rebuild and do the right things,” Arteta told Sport. “Right now, we’re establishing a relationship with our fans.”
Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop, and others to discuss the most recent news and debate the most important stories. ESPN+ has a live stream available (U.S. only).
There is, however, a historical cautionary note. Arsenal defeated Spurs in March, but they won just one of their following five games, thus ending their chances of qualifying for European play. They fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie with Spurs in September two years ago, then went on to win four of their next 22 games, costing Unai Emery his job.
Arsenal will play both Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace before a home game against Aston Villa and a trip to Leicester City after the international break next month. It’s a run that’s not without risks, but it’s also one that leads to further advancement.
Spurs’ games against Villa, Newcastle United, West Ham United, and Manchester United over the same timeframe will be complicated by the Europa Conference League, and Nuno is already racing against time to create an identity for this side. He has only managed Spurs in ten competitive games, and despite finishing the day equal on points with Arsenal after such a harrowing 90 minutes, it already seems like the pressure is mounting.
Neither of these teams is where they want to be right now, but only one seems to be poised to take the next step.