Erik Lamela went from hero to villain as Tottenham failed to take anything from the North London Derby.
The second derby of the season.
Red against white.
Fighting for pride in North London.
The previous match-up went to Spurs, with goals from Son and Kane that blew away their opposition.
This time, it was the Emirates Stadium, and Arsenal were hosts.
Tottenham had only ever won once at the stadium since its opening in 2006.
Mikel Arteta’s side sat 10th in the table and the Spaniard made four changes to his starting XI from their last Premier League outing against Burnley.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was dropped to the bench for disciplinary reasons, and so Alexandre Lacazette lead the team out.
Jose Mourinho opted for a similar line-up to the side that beat Crystal Palace a week prior, with the only changing being Tanguy Ndombele replacing Harry Winks in midfield.
🚨 Three changes from Athens…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 14, 2021
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 14, 2021
The home team kicked off the derby and immediately Spurs sat back.
It seemed as if Mourinho’s game plan was similar to their last meeting.
Beat them on the counter-attack.
This played into Arsenal’s hands however, in the early stages of the match.
They dominated possession and within 15 minutes, almost scored.
Young midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe struck a right-footed effort from distance, which beat Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.
Unfortunately for the Arsenal man, it rattled the woodwork and bounced away.
Moments later, after being awoken by Smith-Rowe’s shot, Tottenham tried their own attack.
But things got worse.
Heung-Min Son sprinted from deep as he has done all season, but tweaked his hamstring as he ran, causing the Korean to be substituted.
This huge blow early on in the derby was the last thing Spurs players and fans had hoped for.
His replacement was Erik Lamela, who had been positive in his previous games, creating an opportunity for Harry Kane in their last game against Dinamo Zagreb.
The game grew cagey once more, with Arsenal continuing to hold the majority of possession.
Until the 33rd minute.
Tottenham’s first real opportunity came as Sergio Reguilon put a cross into the box from the left-hand side.
Lucas Moura controlled the ball in a crowded box and tapped it towards Erik Lamela.
The Argentinian, who rarely ever uses his right-foot, decided on trying something special.
Lamela hit a rabona shot through bodies of Arsenal players into the bottom right-corner, to the amazement of players and viewers.
Despite the goal, Spurs continued to sit back, allowing the home side to pressurise their defence, predominantly down the left-hand side.
Smith-Rowe caused Matt Doherty problems, as he cut inside and delivered a low cross to Lacazette.
The Frenchman decided on letting the ball through his legs, and the ball found full-back Cedric.
His stretched effort rattled the post, and the Gunners came so close once more.
Their efforts eventually paid off at the end of the half.
Once again the left-hand side was swarmed, and Kieran Tierney delivered a cross into the box.
Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard was free in the centre of the box and directed the ball goalward.
It ricocheted off the legs of Toby Alderweireld before hitting the back of the net, wrong-footing Lloris.
The derby was level at half time.
𝗛𝗔𝗟𝗙-𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 ⏱ @ErikLamela's wonder goal is cancelled out just before the break. All to play for in the second half.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 14, 2021
Arsenal continued to dominate possession going into the second half, and Lacazette had the earliest chance which was comfortably saved by his French counterpart.
Just after the hour mark, the striker found himself in again, with a fantastic opportunity one-on-one with Lloris.
He sliced his shot but was caught by Davinson Sanchez in the process and a penalty was awarded for the home side.
VAR checks were made, but the penalty stood, and the Arsenal stand-in captain stepped up to take it.
Lacazette against Lloris.
French versus French.
From 12-yards Lacazette dispatched his penalty brilliantly, finding the bottom right corner, with his opponent diving the opposite way.
Mikel Arteta’s side were now ahead in the North London derby.
The goal created a tense atmosphere and Spurs grew frustrated as the game continued.
With 20 minutes to go, goal scorer Lamela received a yellow card for a late challenge on Thomas Partey.
And then within minutes, had gone from hero to zero.
As he tried to shield the ball, the midfielder threw his elbow back, catching Kieran Tierney in the face with a silly challenge.
Referee Michael Oliver made the easy decision of awarding a second yellow to the Spurs man and they were down to 10-men.
The away side began to dig deep following the sending off and came close in the final 10 minutes.
Harry Kane almost sealed a draw on two occasions.
His first opportunity came from a Lucas Moura free-kick, in which he headed back across goal and into the bottom corner but was ruled offside.
Then, in the dying embers of the game, his free-kick rattled the post and was then converted goalward by Moussa Sissoko, only for Gabriel to head it clear.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Tottenham.
And Arsenal were victors.
Mikel Arteta’s first North London derby victory.
Both sides’ next game comes in the Europa League in midweek, with the Gunners at home to Olympiacos and Spurs travelling to Dinamo Zagreb.
Match Report by Nathan Salmon