The Rebound: Who were the real winners of Arsenal and Tottenham’s 2-2 North London Derby draw?
A look back on all of the weekend’s Premier League action, including Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle United, and Manchester City.
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There are two theories; either Bukayo Saka was gently ribbing Engand teammate James Maddison, or he’s secretly a Jim Bowen superfan. That being said, the Arsenal winger’s opening strike in Sunday’s North London Derby - an effort that would eventually be chalked up as a Cristian Romero own goal - was hardly a bullseye. More like hitting a treble after ricocheting an arrow off Tony Green’s forehead.
This was, to a certain extent, the first proper test of Ange Postecoglou’s matey revolution. (It turns out that beating Manchester United at the time of writing reveals about as much of a club’s true credentials as folding a paper plane does about one’s ability to pilot a space shuttle.) And in fairness to the Australian, his side came through their trip to the Emirates with enough gumption to suggest that they might just be serious, albeit outside, contenders this season.
Shortly after Romero’s unfortunate intervention and Saka’s first stint at the oche (there would be another to come), the aforementioned Maddison - evidently a touch miffed to be missing out an opportunity to dominate his weekly Sunday roast - turned the Gunner’s talismanic star boy inside out and laid on a sublime assist for Son Heung-min to equalise.
After the interval, this pattern would repeat; Saka struck from the penalty spot and threw an imaginary dart, only to see it veer off course and deflate his hubris as Son pegged the hosts back once again.
In truth, it was a draw that in the fullness of time both teams may come to appreciate more than they rue, but the warning signs are plain to see for Arsenal, and indeed the rest of the top six writ large; the tide in North London may not have done a complete ‘ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTYYYYY!!!’ just yet, but it might be starting to turn ever so slightly.
Elsewhere, the conspiracy theorists were out en masse as the shadowy forces of Big Vidiprinter intervened to ensure that Newcastle United’s mauling of Sheffield United remained decidedly single-digited. What will happen if and when a Premier League side ever does reach that elusive, hallowed tenth goal? Honestly, who can say? It’s like Y2K for graphic design interns.
Pixelated cabals aside, the Magpies were as stunningly ruthless as the Blades were blunt. Perhaps they should consider changing their nickname to the Butterknives. This was a bullying of such XL proportions that we can expect to hear a press conference from Rishi Sunak condemning it before the week is through. Not only did Eddie Howe’s men put eight past their hosts, but they did so with eight different scorers - a feat that has never been produced before during the Premier League era. By the time the fourth official’s board went up to conjure a sadistic chunk of stoppage time, there were barely eight Sheffield United fans left inside Bramall Lane.
In the aftermath of the defeat, many have questioned how a manager can survive such a complete humiliation on home turf. For what it’s worth, there is probably an argument to be made for their current boss being a perfect fit for the predicament they now found themselves in; the Blades are hecking bottom, and on the evidence of Sunday’s farce, they could well remain there all season long.
And finally, Manchester City took their stranglehold on the Premier League to new, literal heights against Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. Seemingly no longer content with simply squeezing the life out of every team foolish enough to stumble across their path, it would appear that the champions have also taken to squeezing the air out of their opponents’ oesophagi too.
It was Morgan Gibbs-White who felt the clammy palms of unbridled rage as Rodri was briefly possessed by the spirit of The Undertaker in a wanton act of red mist wandering rarely seen by drivers of second-hand Opel Corsas. It’s almost ironic that it was the Forest man who hit the turf (admittedly around six to eight business weeks later) when the mild-mannered Spaniard was the one staging his own Falling Down reboot.
Not that it made a great deal of difference to City’s fortunes on the day, of course. Despite playing nearly half the match at a numerical disadvantage, Pep Guardiola’s sky blue juggernaut still strolled to a 2-0 win, and it really does beg the question as to just how many players they can afford to lose over the course of a match before they begin to suffer any kind of notable adverse effects. Would anybody, for instance, bet against an elite rogue splinter cell of Ederson, Kevin De Bruyne, and Erling Haaland - Pep’s Angels, if you will - finishing in the top four? I think not.