Thursday 14 December 2017 / 01:54 AM

FOUR THOUGHTS FROM ARSENAL v TOTTENHAM

For the first time in some years, this was a North London derby that Spurs fans were confident of a result in. Buoyed by their results at home to Liverpool and Real Madrid, plenty of pundits and a whole lot of fans thought Tottenham would cruise to victory.

And they were wrong. Here are four thoughts from the game at the Emirates:

Whoever ends up with Mesut Ozil will be a lucky club

Mesut Ozil takes a lot of flack in the British media. Whether it’s because he plays for Germany, or because he plays the kind of ‘free role’ that doesn’t see him ‘digging in’ and defending much, Ozil is often the target of significant criticism from football fans and pundits alike.

But the reality is that when you have a player of Ozil’s talents, you just have to allow him to do what he wants.

The German may drift in and out of the game, but at the Emirates on Saturday, he showed why you just have to let him do exactly that.

The playmaker was by far the best player on the pitch, and showed counterpart Dele Alli just how much work he has to do if he wants to be considered a player on par with the likes of Ozil.

The German is likely to leave next summer, and any club that gets him will be lucky to have him.

Tottenham are a different side without Alderweireld

Toby Alderweireld has been one of the best defenders in the league for the last three years, and unfortunately, this fact means that Spurs will miss him hugely over the next few weeks.

Whilst Jan Vertonghen is a fine player, he looks distinctly shakier without his fellow Belgian beside him, whilst Eric Dier often performs well below par when Alderweireld isn’t playing.

This was more than apparent against Arsenal, with both goals being as a result of defensive errors. Spurs must work out how to play without their defensive talisman, or they could find themselves well out of the title race by Christmas, if they aren’t already.

Spurs slip means Premier League is tall order

Speaking of the title race, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings, but the fact of the matter is that Spurs are now fourth, and 11 points behind Man City.

It’s not over, but it’s pretty darn close, and how Mauricio Pochettino deals with this psychologically will be an interesting one.

Realistically, few expected Spurs to actually win the league this year, but most would expect them to finish in the Champions League places, something that is an absolute must for them to keep both their manager and their star players.

Pochettino most now focus on getting his side motivated ahead of the Christmas period, as more dropped points will see them heading into 2018 outside of the top four and a long way from Champions League qualification.

One swallow does not a summer make

Yes, Arsenal were the better side, by some margin. But does this mean that all is well at the Emirates? Not by a long chalk. Having just berated Spurs for being 11 points behind Manchester City after 12 games, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that Arsenal are a further point behind Spurs, and outside the top four.

The fact of the matter is that Arsenal have had no Champions League football to play this season, and yet they are some way off the title race pace. A return to the top four would not be a success – it surely is the bare minimum of what’s acceptable?

[YouTube – Goals & Highlights]

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About the author

Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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