Arsenal v Spurs biggest game?

Alderweireld: derby is not the biggest game of the year

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Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur: the Gunners fire back in the second half

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Heading into the North London derby, Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld said that the clash between Arsenal and Tottenham was "not the biggest game of the year". It certainly didn't feel like that at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. There were goals, penalties, and a red card as the Gunners fired back to continue their 19-match unbeaten run.

Unai Emery's side were ahead with 10 minutes on the clock. Granit Xhaka swung in a free kick from the left, as Shkodran Mustafi and Jan Vertonghen both rose for the ball. The Tottenham defender's arms were needlessly flung up in the air, and they made contact with the ball. Referee Mike Dean immediately pointed to the spot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stepped up to take the penalty, sending goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way.

Spurs came back from a goal down to be ahead before the break - and it was somewhat against the run of play. There were four minutes of chaos for Arsenal as they switched off at the half hour mark. Christian Eriksen's free kick found Eric Dier at the near post, who glanced a header past Bernd Leno. The goalkeeper should not have been easily beaten from that position, and the defence should not have allowed Dier through.

The equaliser caused a bit of a fracas as Dier celebrated his goal, hushing the Arsenal supporters. The 24-year-old wheeled away to celebrate in front of a section of home fans, and the substitutes for the Gunners, who were warming up, were not terribly impressed. Mauricio Pochettino found himself down by the corner flag, trying to keep the peace, and the Spurs manager was told to return to his technical area by the fourth official.

And then, four minutes later, Mike Dean awarded another penalty - this time, at the opposite end of the pitch. Son Heung-Min made an excellent run into the box, and he was hacked down by Rob Holding. Harry Kane confidently fired Tottenham ahead from the spot.

Aubameyang found the back of the net again to draw the teams level in the 56th minute. Arsenal flung themselves forward, and Hector Bellerin sent a beautiful, curling ball to Aaron Ramsey at the edge of the box. The Welshman helped the ball on to the striker who unleashed instinctive finish from distance past a stunned Lloris.

Substitute Alexandre Lacazette relied on a deflection from Dier to put Arsenal ahead once again. Juan Foyth was robbed far too easily of the ball, and the Gunners fired up the pitch. Lacazette was able to hold off Vertonghen before hitting a low shot from the edge of the box. It bounced off Dier's shin and into the bottom corner with 16 minutes left on the clock.

Lucas Torreira sealed the victory for Arsenal just three minutes later. The Uruguayan midfielder picked up a lovely through ball, running clear of the Tottenham defenders, and slammed it past Lloris into the far corner.

To make matters worse for Spurs, they were reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute. Vertonghen received his second yellow card of the game after a poor challenge on Lacazette. It was not a good game for the defender whose hand ball resulted in the opener, and then being sent to an early bath with five minutes to go.

Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday (K.O. 8pm). Tottenham Hotspur face relegation-contenders Southampton at Wembley on the same day (K.O. 8pm).

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