Like I said in my preview, there’s nothing out of the norm in Arsenal beating Spurs at the Emirates, but there was something different about the latest North London Derby. It’s a shame some gooners initial reaction was to once again make comparisons with Emery and Arsene Wenger. Apparently, the greatest manager in our history would never have made changes at half time, maybe if he did, he would have improved on only losing once to our rivals at home?
How often were we in a position where our rivals ever were winning at our place at the interval is a debate but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story. What was refreshing about this Sunday was aspects that ironically the FA will probably punish people for. It was heart-warming to see what the occasion meant to a group of foreigners who haven’t been at the club for long. We’ve become used to our best players always knowing it was when and not if they were leaving. As enjoyable as Sanchez’s strike in this fixture was last year, as he slid in celebration, the moment was hampered by knowing he was plotting his escape route.
The way Auba, Lacca and Torreira reacted when finding the net showed they are proud to wear the badge. I thought Bellerin was a red card waiting to happen the amount of time he squared up to his peers when the ref stopped play. But I mean that as a compliment. He’s grown up with us since a teenager so cares about this game as much as a Harry Kane. Yet he didn’t have the confidence in the last two years to stand up for the shirt. That’s why I didn’t mind Dier’s gesture to the crowd (especially when he was made to look silly for it in the second half).
I have a canvas of Thierry Henry sliding in front of the away end at Highbury in my kitchen, so let’s not be hypocritical. I liked our subs caring enough to start a shoving match. Nor did I take any offense to Klopp running onto the pitch later in the day at Anfield. We want passion in the game. We want players to show personality. We don’t want them to be robots who all act the same. By Dier’s provocation, our subs reaction or Klopp’s celebration, these provide memories to last for ever. Moments that will be played every time this match comes around.
Think back to the Battle of Old Trafford? When Man United fans or Gooners remember Keown reaction to that penalty miss, few chat about the fines or suspensions. They talk like it’s a good memory. Proud they had winners who cared enough about the badge. That’s been dying in the last decade. Arsenal and Spurs will most likely get punished for today’s behaviour, yet it’s moments like today which make this the game we love. Don’t take personality out of the sport.