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Arsenal’s Comprehensive Win Over Rival Tottenham Only Makes Gunners Fans More Frustrated

Arsenal fans gave the mercurial Mesut Ozil a standing ovation as he was subbed off with the Gunners holding a 2-0 lead over archrival Tottenham they would not relinquish in the North London Derby on Saturday at Emirates Stadium. It was the type of adoration bestowed upon a man of the match who had given everything to defeat a hated foe.

And yet it was a performance that only made Arsenal fans grow more frustrated with Ozil and the team they love.

The Gunners showed how good they can be with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Spurs, Arsene Wenger’s first Premier League victory over Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino. Arsenal showed unusual strength from back to front to pull within one point of Spurs in the EPL standings, taking advantage of or being the cause of rare off days from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen.

Wenger’s back line of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal (plus wingbacks Hector Bellerin and Saed Kolasinac) were imperious. The front line of Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette were rampant. Vitally, the midfield of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka were outnumbered in the middle of the park but not overrun, more than holding their own and providing aid both in defense and attack. 

Arsenal vs Tottenham

Alexis Sanchez scores for Arsenal. Photo: @PLinUSA | Twitter

It was a promising performance from a team that has already seen plenty of ups and downs this season. But it just goes to show what continues to exasperate Arsenal supporters: The Gunners can be extremely good — when they want to be. 

Too often Arsenal fails to show the requisite intensity to succeed at the level fans grew to expect in Wenger's early years, with Ozil often being the undeserving scapegoat. Ozil typically runs more than the rest of his team and creates as many chances as anyone in Europe, but because of his languid style and uninspiring body language, English fans fail to appreciate his commitment. 

But against Tottenham on Saturday, Ozil (and the rest of his teammates) showed the type of determination British fans demand from players and it resulted in the squad’s best performance of the season. 

Arsenal took the lead with a little German connection in the 36th minute. Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez fouled Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez 40 yards from goal setting up a free kick swung in by Ozil. Fellow German Mustafi, who was as close to being offside as you can get without being called for it, hit a looping header over Hugo Lloris and into the far corner of the goal.

It was Arsenal’s 16th headed Premier League goal in 2017, three more than any other team. So much for walking it in. It was also Ozil’s 45th Premier League assist with Arsenal, more than any other play since his arrival in North London in 2013. 

The Gunners doubled their lead five minutes later when Bellerin played in Lacazette, who was barely kept onside by Davinson Sanchez. Lacazette smacked a near-post pass to Alexis, who impressively dampened the cross and slammed the ball into the roof of the net. 

Alexis’ finish meant Arsenal scored on its first two shots on target. Lloris didn’t have much chance on Mustafi’s well-placed header but might have been able to get to Alexis’ first touch had he reacted to the cross better. 

A 2-0 lead for Arsenal is usually a done deal. In the Gunners’ previous 20 Premier League games at home when they’ve led 2-0 at the break they were 19-1 — but that one loss came to Tottenham in 2010, the last time Spurs won at Emirates Stadium.

However, Tottenham couldn’t mount a comeback, with Pochettino eventually taking off Kane and Dele Alli in the second half as his two English stars failed to bring much impact to the match. 

Neither team will have been too pleased with the officiating of Mike Dean. Tottenham would argue there was negligible contact on the foul that let to Arsenal’s first goal while the Gunners would argue there was no foul on this early play that would have led to a Lacazette tap in had play been allowed to go on. 

It was Arsenal’s 11th straight home win in the Premier League. The Gunners have won all six EPL matches at home this season while they have four points in six away matches. Tottenham lost on the road for just the second time this season. 

An impressive win over a rival is usually cause for great celebration. But after Saturday’s imposing performance, Arsenal fans will just be wondering why such victories are so few and far between.  

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