Arsenal 0-2 Tottenham: Five things we learned as goals from Heung-min Son and Dele Alli send Spurs through to League Cup semi-final

Michael Searles
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Carabao Cup: Quarter Final
Heung-min Son and Dele Alli ensured Spurs claimed a deserved win at the Emirates (Source: Getty)

It was a testament to the importance of this match that both sides opted to pick their strongest possible line-ups, despite it only being a League Cup tie.

Ultimately, Tottenham’s best was better, as they knocked out Arsenal with a 2-0 win – just their second ever victory at the Emirates.

In times gone by, this quarter-final clash would have seen both teams field weakened sides, but in an era where the demands on managers to deliver silverware are greater than ever, both Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino elected to play their best available side, even with the hectic Christmas schedule on the horizon.

Goals in either half from Heung-min Son and Dele Alli sealed the win for Tottenham as the white half of north London progressed to the semi-finals and closer to their first piece of silverware in over a decade.

Captain fantastic

Within minutes of coming off the bench in the 58th minute, Harry Kane added some much-needed class to Tottenham’s attack and instantly altered the course of the second-half just as Arsenal were finding their rhythm with a relentless attack on the Tottenham goal.

The captain picked up the ball in acres of space and with his first few touches picked out Alli with a delightful through ball and the England midfielder lifted it over Petr Cech to make it 2-0 and silence the home fans.

Kane had been a doubt for the match but when Pochettino called upon him, he delivered, as he usually does.

Defensive dilemma

The defensive issues that halted Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run against Southampton were still more than apparent.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was rusty at right-back having spent much of the season injured and struggled for most of the night, while Granit Xhaka looked uncomfortable at centre-back and unsure of where to position himself.

If Tottenham’s first goal from Son’s one-on-one finish wasn’t calamitous enough from three of the Arsenal back four, then the second really highlighted how much they still have to improve.

Xhaka chose not to keep tight on Kane and left him with time and space to pick out a decisive pass and half-time substitute Laurent Koscielny was unable to keep up with Alli as he found the net.

The Gunners sorely missed Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi, who have been mainstays of the team this season.

Ozil’s omission

Arsenal’s highest paid player was left out of the squad for “tactical reasons” and clearly Emery does not see a place for the playmaker in his side.

Having just returned from a back injury, Ozil played 25 minutes against Southampton last weekend but failed to impress. He lost the ball as the Saints went on to score a winner and Emery has once again been willing to show his assertiveness by omitting Ozil from the squad in one of most significant games of the season so far.

It’s hard to see how the German comes back from this, but on current form, potential buyers in January will be few and far between.

Tenacious Tottenham

Less than three weeks after that 4-2 defeat at the Emirates, Tottenham returned desperate to put things right.

They bounced back from that loss with three straight wins in the league and a draw at Barcelona that against all odds put them through to the Champions League knockout stage.

Spurs showed fatigue was not an option despite their gruelling schedule, which is only set to get tougher with four games in nine days of the Christmas period.

Pochettino continues to grow the club’s stature as they compete on all four fronts still, despite making no new signings in the summer and significant delays to their new stadium.

The manager returned to the field after the match to applaud the visiting fans who stayed behind to chant their manager’s name.