Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has three players to blame after woeful Tottenham derby defeat

Mikel Arteta reviews Spurs defeat

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Arsenal were comprehensively outplayed by Tottenham during their north London derby clash on Thursday night. A brace from Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min’s second-half strike gave the Gunners’ fierce rivals all three points. And it also means both teams’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League still hang in the balance.

Arsenal went into their derby clash with Tottenham knowing victory would be enough to book their place in next season’s Champions League.

But the Gunners were put to the sword by their rivals on a chastening afternoon in the capital.

Kane put Tottenham in front from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute, with Rob Holding then seeing red 11 minutes later.

The Spurs talisman bagged his second goal of the game before half-time, stooping low to head in past Aaron Ramsdale.

And Son was on target just after the interval to ensure Tottenham are now just one point behind Arsenal with two matches remaining.

Arsenal were dire throughout, even if Mikel Arteta tried to deflect blame by criticising referee Paul Tierney. So Express Sport will now take a look at the three players to blame for the woeful result.

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Rob Holding

Let’s start with the obvious.

Holding has come on leaps and bounds at Arsenal under Arteta and was charged with the task of keeping the likes of Son and Kane quiet.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, the former Bolton star was woeful during his 33 minutes on the field.

He seemed more preoccupied with fouling Son at every opportunity and, after one error too many, received his marching orders after colliding with the South Korea international.

That saw Arsenal implode and Holding was, in truth, lucky to receive a second yellow card rather than a straight red.

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Another player who Arteta has undoubtedly improved is Cedric.

Yet this was a day to forget for the Portugal international, who was given the runaround by Tottenham’s speedy frontline.

Cedric was the one who gave the penalty away in the first half, clumsily going into the back of Son when it wasn’t entirely necessary.

It was admittedly a soft spot-kick for Tierney to give but the former Southampton star then appeared flustered and struggled to regain his composure, a good block from Kane aside.

It’s clear Arsenal still require an upgrade at right-back as they look to build on the foundations Arteta has put in place.


Gabriel has been a vital asset for Arsenal ever since his arrival from Lille back in the summer transfer window of 2020.

But this was a night to forget for the Brazilian, who seemed to allow the magnitude of the match to get to him.

Gabriel did admittedly have far too much to do after Holding was dismissed and, understandably, didn’t appear comfortable playing alongside Granit Xhaka at the back.

He certainly didn’t do enough for Tottenham’s third goal, spending too much time focusing on Kane instead of rushing out to block Son’s shot.

Gabriel will just get better and better after this horror show but it was definitely a night to forget.

Arteta unhappy

Speaking after the game, meanwhile, Arteta admitted he was reluctant to discuss the performance of the referee.

“I cannot do it. I just want to say that I am really proud of my players but obviously we didn’t get the result that we wanted,” he stated.

“I can’t wait to play on Monday.

“I want to be on the touchline on Monday night. No [I can’t talk] because I will be suspended.

“You can ask the referee if he wants to come and give an assessment of the match. I can do it but I have two options, I can lie to you, which I don’t do, or if not I will be suspended and I really want to be on the touchline against Newcastle.”

On the red card specifically, he then added: “I prefer not to [speak about the incident].”

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