Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 6 Things We Learned
Santi Cazorla opened the scoring just after half an hour with a fine strike before Tomas Rosicky sealed the victory in the second half. In what was perhaps the most talked about part of an excellent derby, Theo Walcott taunted Spurs fans when carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
Let's look back at six things we learned.
Theo Walcott Became a Legend
Theo Walcott knows how to win the hearts of Arsenal fans.
Last season's top scorer has been playing for the Gunners for years and is intimately familiar with the ferocity of the club's rivalry with Spurs.
It was not surprising, then, that he was extolled by Arsenal supporters for reminding the blue half of North London of the score when he was stretchered off with a knee injury.
Such displays of loyalty are what legends are made of.
Serge Gnabry Shined
Timing is everything in a footballer's career, and Serge Gnabry is having the best luck possible.
He has been largely shut out of the starting XI this season, as Arsene Wenger looks to ease him into first-team action very gradually. But when he finally got his chance, he took it with both hands.
Gnabry was on fire from the opening whistle and seemed like a man on a mission to make a definitive statement to his manager.
He certainly did, and now that Theo Walcott is injured, Gnabry should get another chance on the wing.
Mark Clattenburg Showed the Good Side of Refereeing
High-profile derbies such as this often devolve into petty contests pocked with fouls and skirmishes. Mark Clattenburg did an excellent job of diffusing dangerous situations, making himself invisible in the process.
For that, he deserves to be recognized.
Fans always complain about the quality of the officiating, but this season, the criticism seems to be especially intense every week.
Yet, in a match that can get ugly, and has, Clattenburg kept a firm handle on tensions and asserted himself well. Other referees should follow his example.
Tomas Rosicky Never Shows His Age
Sure, Tomas Rosicky spent over a year out of the game due to an injury a few years ago, but it is impossible to understand how the 33-year-old has as much energy as he does.
When properly rested and on his day, Rosicky can be found anywhere on the pitch at any time, harrying the opposition when he does not have the ball and working relentlessly to create something when he does.
Arsenal overpowered Spurs' midfield, and the Czech was a major reason why. They simply could not deal with the constant and incessant threat that he posed. He can be a major part of Arsenal's title challenge, if he stays fit.
Arsenal Don't Need All the Possession
It's not how much possession you have, it's what you do with it.
Arsenal and Tottenham took the same amount of shots on goal and almost the same amount of shots, according to ESPN FC, but the latter had 55 percent of the ball to the Gunners' 45 percent.
Yet, Arsenal clearly dominated the game and had the best chances by far. Their victory was clean and comfortable.
That is because they worked quickly, efficiently and ruthlessly. Spurs allowed them to do so by playing a very high defensive line, but the point is that Arsenal showed they are multidimensional.
Arsenal Need to Win the Midfield Battle
Arsenal were only able to sweep over Tottenham because they were able to control the midfield when they wanted, breaking Spurs' high line.
That, we are reminded, is the Gunners' key to success. Mikel Arteta was instrumental in allowing Arsenal to play positively, while Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla drove forward with gusto.
That trio was ably supported by a forward three of Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry, but the midfield had to be won before Hugo Lloris' goal could be breached.
Arsenal showed that they can secure the middle of the pitch, which bodes well for the matches against fellow title contenders, which will ultimately decide which side walks away with the championship at the end of the season.