If Ange Postecoglou’s revolution goes to the extreme, a Gabriel Jesus miss could gain folkloric status on one side of this London divide.
Not only were Tottenham behind at the time, with just over half an hour on the clock, they were also dominated. Arsenal looked a classier act in every respect. Cohesive, quick, aggressive and astute as they were when Jesus took the ball from James Maddison in the Spurs penalty area.
Fifteen meters away, in the middle of the goal, he missed the target. Things sparked and Spurs came to their senses, found better tempo and, without completely abandoning their principles, figured it was time to stop hesitating over the ball at the back.
From then on the match was a different kind of match. Postecoglou’s team got on the front foot, higher up the pitch, and their wing-backs no longer seemed panicked by the prospect of containing Bukayo Saka and Jesus.
Instead, their attacking players started forcing Arsenal into mistakes, including one from Jorginho, which led to the fourth goal of the match. Heung-min Son equalized twice, two wonderful clinical finishes, first to cancel out a Cristian Romero own goal and then to concede a penalty by the same player and converted by Saka.
Son Heung-min scored a brace off Sudnay as Tottenham drew 2-2 with Arsenal in a thrilling North London derby
He opened the scoring just before half-time with a composed finish past Gunners keeper David Raya
The goal came after Arsenal had opened the scoring when Bukayo Saka’s cross was deflected by Cristian Romero.
Saka put Arsenal ahead just after half-time after a controversially awarded penalty, but the lead was short-lived
Tottenham have never been in front and their record against Arsenal in the Premier League remains abysmal. They have won just once in the Premier League here in thirty years, yet they left the Emirates Stadium in high spirits, encouraged by the direction of travel.
When he finished pumping his fist on the away side, Postecoglou shrugged his shoulders and said that he doesn’t care about the result, but he will know that this fight will be a catalyst for his project if it reinforces the belief that his adventure football style can earn points against elite teams in hostile environments.
Albeit at the end of a week in which Mikel Arteta’s team had to struggle with the Champions League and a growing number of injuries. Declan Rice is the last, after having to leave at half-time due to a back problem.
Tottenham had a week to plan and prepare for their first derby of the post-Harry Kane era, but they started as if bewildered by Arsenal’s desire and mobility as they pushed forward and forced passes astray. Son had the ball in the net in the opening minutes, but was well offside and the activity was largely concentrated at the other end.
Guglielmo Vicario made early saves. First from Jesus, picked out by Saka at the back post. Destiny Udogie suffered against Saka with little protection or help from winger Brennan Johnson in his first Spurs start.
Udogie picked up a yellow card for a late tackle and appeared confused seconds later when a careless pass intended for Micky van de Ven played Eddie Nketiah through on goal.
Once again Vicario made the save and it was no surprise when the opening goal came from that side of the pitch. Martin Odegaard passed out to Saka, who looked inside on his left foot. Both Udogie and Johnson were on the side of the goal, but neither applied any pressure.
Saka sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth and Romero clumsily guided the ball into his own goal via his left knee.
Spurs looked certain to score when Brennan Johnson’s shot ended a silky move, but Raya came over in spectacular fashion to save the try.
Cristian Romero was forced to forget an afternoon when he scored an own goal and gave away the penalty that Saka converted
Arsenal deserved the lead and then came the Jesus chance, missed. Then Tottenham made their move, forcing David Raya, a goalkeeper they tried to sign before he joined Arsenal from Brentford, into an incredible save.
Johnson certainly thought something was on target when he whipped Son’s low cross towards goal with Raya stranded behind his near post, but the Spanish goalkeeper threw himself over the goal line and clawed the ball away.
Arsenal: Raya, Saliba, White, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard, Vieira (Havertz, 45), Rice (Jorginho, 45), Saka (Smith Rowe, 90+6), Jesus (Nelson, 77) Nketiah
Unused subs: Elneny, Ramsdale, Kwior, Carlo, Tomiyasu
Goals: Romero (og, 26) Saka (54)
Booked: Odegaard, Nkeitah
Tottenham: Vicario, Romero, Porro, van de Ven, Udogie, Bissouma, Maddison (Hojberg, 78), Kulusevski, Johnson (Solomon, 63), Sarr, Son (Richarlison, 79)
Unused subs: Skipp, Forster, Veliz, Royal, Dier, Davies
Goals: Son (42, 55)
Bookings: Udogie, Bissouma, Sarr
Raya, starting his third game in a row, was less impressive as Tottenham leveled, fluttering to Pape Matar Sarr’s high-floating cross. Udogie kept up the pressure by heading the loose ball to Maddison, who shrugged off Saka far too easily and found Son, who finished first, from the far post while surrounded by redshirts.
Arsenal struck first in an even second half. Ben White’s shot on the turn hit Romero on his left hand, outstretched as he lunged forward to try to make a block and the handball rule was again scrutinized when VAR Paul Tierney told referee Robert Jones to watch the replays on the monitor to look at. .
Romero had not acted deliberately and White was so close to him that there had been no chance to adjust and pull his arm back. Still, the arm was up and the proximity to the target worked against him. It was targeted and probably would have gone in if it hadn’t hit his hand.
Jones pointed to the spot and Saka scored, firing his shot through the middle as Vicario dived to the right.
This time Spurs responded within a minute. Maddison took the ball from Jorginho deep in Arsenal’s half and released Son as he raced away to the inside right channel from where the Korean produced another flawless finish. More balm to ease the pain of Kane’s departure.
There were fears on both sides in a breathless ending. Son shot again into the side netting. Gabriel cut out Pedro Porro’s cross as Son waited to strike and Postecoglou threw his hands to his head.
There is also a lot of pressure and opportunities for the home team. Kai Havertz shot over and Vicario saved from Saka.
But the honor was shared in North London. Both teams remain unbeaten six games into the season, but this felt like a better day for Spurs in their eternal battle to escape Arsenal’s shadow. One that they may even look back on with great pleasure.
Declan Rice was forced off at half-time with a calf injury in what could be a major blow for the Gunners
James Maddison also went down and appeared to be in some discomfort, although he was able to play for another ten minutes before coming off the field.