Tottenham’s fightback does not hide the truth as Arsenal expose obvious flaws

Tottenham's display showed how far they are behind their fierce rivals

Ange Postecoglou’s side mounted a valiant revival after falling three goals behind in 38 minutes against Arsenal – but Tottenham’s comeback was as successful as their early title charge

Tottenham’s dream start to this season ended with a crazy thrashing by Chelsea with only nine players.

And in traditional Spurs style, this derby defeat finished with the madness of goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario trying to block David Raya in the Arsenal box as they chased an equaliser deep into injury-time. Ange Postecoglou’s side avoided the total humiliation which looked possible after the nightmare opening 38 minutes.

But the emotional late fightback should not distract from the cold, hard reality of the performance. Heroic losses do not win titles or trophies.

And instead of stopping the Gunners’ title surge, the hosts’ hopes of Champions League football next season look finished as they are guaranteed to finish below their North London rivals again.

Ange Postecoglou even tempered his usual Angeball tactics by picking the usually solid Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in central midfield ahead of Yves Bissouma. But the Dane’s headed own goal set the tone for a torrid first hour before the frantic finale.

The 90-minute performance should still be a reality check for a club which led the Premier League after 10 games and now trail fourth-placed Aston Villa by seven points – with Manchester City still to visit next month.

Former Rangers midfielder Mikel Areteta has needed over four years to get Arsenal to be consistent Premier League contenders. Ex-Celtic boss Postecoglou might need the same time.

Aside from the injured Destiny Udogie, everyone from Spurs was available. But it needed the 64th-minute gift from Gunners keeper Raya – after the belated introduction of Bissouma and Richarlison – to really spark Spurs into action.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou reacts on the touchline

Everton’s midweek victory over Liverpool in the Merseyside derby was the model of how to embarrass your more esteemed local rivals. Yet when Kai Havertz headed home Arsenal’s third goal, Spurs had conceded seven goals in 98 Premier League minutes following their defeat at Newcastle 15 days ago.

The expectant pre-match roar from Spurs fans was replaced by half-time boos. There was eventually fire and fury but little finesse from the hosts.

This was a chance for James Maddison to take control of a big match. But instead the Spurs playmaker was given a lesson by Martin Odegaard and risks missing out on even a 26-man England squad this summer.

Tottenham's James Maddison was given a difficult afternoon by Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard

Tottenham’s James Maddison was given a difficult afternoon by Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard 

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

His most notable contribution was a dubious dive in the Arsenal box and he was hooked after 63 minutes. Cristiano Romero netted a minute later before Son Heung-Min’s 87th minute penalty set up an unexpectedly tight finish. Centre-backs Micky van de Ven and Romero were superb and Brennan Johnson’s first-half introduction improved Tottenham. But this is not yet a squad ready to challenge at the top.

All there is left for Spurs fans in this campaign is to cheer on Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

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