Tottenham advanced to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, as they saw off a poor Arsenal side at the Emirates thanks to goals from Heung-min Son and Dele Alli in a feisty clash.
Paulo Gazzaniga saved Spurs blushes after a frantic start to the game as he denied Henrikh Mkitaryan the opener after a neat one-two with Aaron Ramsey on the edge of the Spurs box.
The visitors then enjoyed a sustained spell of possession as they pressed for an opener and were rewarded for their bright start to the game, as Son was left one on one to slot home emphatically.
Arsenal looked to respond before the break and were again kept at bay by the impressive Gazzaniga who swatted away Ramsey’s drive from distance.
Spurs continued to look menacing on the counter after the interval and doubled their lead when Alli clipped sublimely over the onrushing Petr Cech from Harry Kane’s pass to seal victory for the visitors.
Here’s our breakdown of this one.
Key Talking Point
Mesut Ozil’s omission from Unai Emery’s squad will no doubt set tongues wagging. The German has struggled to find his best form this term and has recently suffered with back problems.
Emery stated prior to the game that his decision to leave the playmaker out of the match day squad was purely tactical, which suggests he doesn’t trust his player.
Emery’s preference to play wantaway midfielder Aaron Ramsey in Ozil’s place says a lot for the Spaniard’s trust, or lack thereof, in his most creative midfielder’s abilities in his high intensity system.
The disappointing result will only raise more questions over the decision to leave Ozil out.
Starting XI: Cech (5); Maitland-Niles (5), Papastathopoulos (6), Xhaka (5), Monreal (5); Guendouzi (6), Torreira (7); Mkhitaryan (4), Ramsey (6), Iwobi (7); Aubameyang (5).
Substitutes: Koscielny (5), Lacazette (5), Nketiah (5).
Alex Iwobi showed promise in possession in a poor Arsenal performance. The Nigerian showed great feet in tight situations as Spurs pressed and harried to win back possession, and was unfortunate not to see out the duration of the game.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan just doesn’t look like the player we all saw terrifying defences in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund. The Armenian barely touched the ball in the first half and seemed to lack ideas when he did get on the ball in dangerous areas.
Key Talking Point
Following Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford departure, much talk has centred around Mauricio Pochettino’s credentials as a potential United manager, in part due to his trust in youth at first team level. It seemed fitting then that Harry Winks, a product of Tottenham’s academy, starred in the heart of Spurs midfield as they ran a tired Arsenal side ragged.
The young midfielder kept a calm head in possession for his side and kept them ticking over with his understated passing game. In the absence of Moussa Dembélé, Winks has emerged as a key member of Spurs first team, backed by his manager’s trust in his abilities.
Starting XI: Gazzaniga (6); Trippier (6), Alderweireld (6), Davies (5), Rose (5); Winks (7), Sissoko (4), Eriksen (6), Alli (7), Moura (6); Son (7).
Substitutes: Kane (6), Lamela (5).
Heung-Min Son was a real threat throughout proceedings. The South Korean started centrally and lead the line admirably, using his pace and well-timed runs in behind Granit Xhaka before shifting out wide in the second half.
Moussa Sissoko had another frustrating night as he got himself into dangerous positions on countless occasions only to choose the wrong pass or shoot wastefully. The Frenchman has the physical attributes to pop up in dangerous positions and protect his defence but lacks the consistency in his decision making to really pose an attacking threat.
Arsenal will look to bounce back from a disappointing week that has seen them lose two games on the bounce as they take on Premier League strugglers Burnley at the Emirates on Saturday.
Spurs meanwhile face a tricky away fixture to Goodison Park to take on Everton, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side looking to close the gap on second-placed Manchester City.