Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1: Gunners don't miss Aubameyang as Lacazette and Odegaard earn derby spoils against 10-man SpursMarch 14, 2021
MIKEL ARTETA’s bold decision to axe Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang paid off as striking replacement Alexandre Lacazette settled a thrilling North London derby from the spot.
Top scorer Aubameyang was left out of Arsenal’s starting line-up by Arteta because of ‘disciplinary issues’.
And anxious Gunners fans feared that was going to come back and bite their team when Erik Lamela fired bitter rivals Spurs ahead with a first-half wonder goal.
But Arsenal struck back through Martin Odegaard and Lacazette to claim a huge three points.
And sub Lamela did not even make it to the final whistle after receiving two yellow cards in the space of seven second-half minutes.
For the first 15 minutes Spurs could barely get the ball out of their own half as they were pinned back by wave after wave of Arsenal attacks.
And they were fortunate to remain on level terms when Sergio Reguilon surrendered possession on the edge of his own area and Emile Smith Rowe’s dipping shot beat Hugo Lloris and came back off the bar.
It was a major let-off for the visitors, who were forced into a 19th minute reshuffle when Son Heung-Min pulled up while chasing a hopeful long ball and had to be replaced by Lamela.
Smith Rowe was causing Spurs all kinds of problems and did well to pull back from the byline to tee up Lacazette for a first time shot which was stabbed across the face of goal.
So it was completely against the run of play when Spurs took the lead in the 34th minute with their first shot of the game. And what a goal it was from sub Lamela.
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Gareth Bale’s cross-field ball was met by a cushioned volley from Reguilon into the path of Lucas Moura for a first-time lay-off to Lamela.
But what happened next was simply sensational as the Argentine international struck an outrageous rabona through a crowd of defenders and just inside Bernd Leno’s far post.
It was a hammer blow for Arsenal after dominating possession for so long and they must have thought it was going to be another of those days when Cedric Soares leathered another Smith Rowe pull back against an upright.
But they finally gained the equaliser they deserved when Kieran Tierney’s low cross was turned in by Martin Odegaard with the help of a 44th minute deflection off Toby Alderweireld.
It was hard to believe that Arsenal had endured a 4,000-mile round trip to Athens in the Europa League last Thursday while Spurs had played at home.
Because it was the Gunners who were full of running while their North London rivals looked as though they were wading through treacle.
And their efforts were rewarded by a contentious 63rd minute penalty when Lacazette was caught by Davinson Sanchez.
It seemed for all the world that referee Michael Oliver had called it wrong as Lacazette had already sliced his shot before he came into contact with Sanchez.
Yet the decision was surprisingly upheld by VAR Paul Tierney and Lacazette made no mistake from the spot for his 12th goal of the season.
Spurs finally came out of their defensive shell to chase the game but their fate was sealed when Lamela was booked for going through Thomas Partey then received a second yellow for a hand into the throat of Tierney.
Yet they nearly snatched a point in the 89th minute when Harry Kane’s free-kick hit the post and Sanchez’s follow-up was headed off the line by Gabriel Magalhães.
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