Date : –  8 August 2021 Kick off : –  14.00
Competition : –  MIND Series – Friendly Venue : –  Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 
Crowd : –  24,168
Referee : –  David Coote (Nottinghamshire) Linesmen : – Mr. Constanides Hatzidakis; Mr. Nick Hopton
Fourth official : – Jarred Gillett
Weather : –  Sunny, one rain shower in first half
Arsenal kicked off the first half attacking the Park Lane end
Playing time : –   90 + 4 minutes


     Son  78m 57s     NONE
  Dele  (foul on Pepe)  34   Tierney  (foul on Hojbjerg)  56
  Skipp  (foul on Rowe-Smith)  46   Xhaka  (foul on Skipp)  57
  Reguilon  (foul on Pepe)  74  


1   Hugo LLORIS  (c)   ( 22    Pierluigi GOLLINI  68) 1   Bernd LENO
25   Japhet TANGANGA  (  24.   Serge AURIER  87) 2   Hector BELLERIN  (  15.   Ainsley MAITLAND-NILES  64)
6   Davinson SANCHEZ  (  14.    Joe RODON  73) 22   Pablo MARI
15   Eric DIER 4   Ben WHITE  (  21.   Calum CHAMBERS  63)
3   Sergio REGUILON  3   Kieran TIERNEY    (  20.   Nuno TAVARES  87)
5   Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG  ( 18.   Giovani Lo CELSO  68) 34   Granit XHAKA    (  17.   Cedric SOARES  81)
29   Oliver SKIPP    (  8.   Harry WINKS  84) 23   Albert LOKONGA  (  25.   Mohamed ELNENY  73)
23   Steven BERGWIJN 19   Nicolas PEPE  (  24.   Reiss NELSON  81)
20   DELE Alli  9   Alexandre LACAZETTE  (  26.   Falorin BALOGUN  73)
27   Lucas MOURA 10   Emile ROWE-SMITH
7   Heung-Min SON    ( 53.    Dane SCARLETT  84) 14   Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG  (  7.   Bukayo SAKA  87)
Substitutes Substitutes
41   Alfie WHITEMAN 13   Runar RUNARSSON
33   Ben DAVIES 49   Karl Jakob HEIN
2   Matt DOHERTY 31   Said KOLASINAC
44   Tobi OMOLE     –
39   Cameron CARTER-VICKERS    
17   Moussa SISSOKO     –
57   Nile JOHN     –
47   Jack CLARKE    


Manager : –  Nuno Espirito Santo Manager : –  Mikel Arteta
Kit Supplier : –  Nike Kit Supplier : –  adidas
Shirt Sponsor : –  AIA Shirt Sponsor : –  Emirates
Colours : –
Shirts – White
Shorts – Navy Blue
Socks –  Navy Blue
Colours : –
Shirts – Red with white side panels and sleeves, with red trim and three black adidas stripes on shoulder
Shorts – White
Socks –  White with red hoops



There was little chance that this MIND Series match would turn out to be a friendly, but the handling of the match by the referee turned it into a more feisty affair than it needed to be for a pre-season game, but Tottenham won out with a late Heung-Min Son goal.

If this match is an indicator of the way that Premier League matches will be officiated in the coming season, then it will be a return to the days of the 1970 FA Cup Final (kids, look it up on You Tube … if it hasn’t got a PG rating that is).  From the off, tackles from behind, blatant pushes and tackles involving “excessive force” were allowed to go unpunished and such leniency will only lead to retaliatory challenges.  For instance, Dele got booked for a strong tackle on Pepe that did deserve a yellow card, but in the preceding half an hour, he had been targeted and kicked form pillar to post with barely a free-kick given.  Xhaka’s later challenge on Oliver Skipp, where he slid in to connect with Skippy’s knee with his studs only got a yellow card.  Normally, it would have been a red and when Skipp got angered, you knew it was bad.  People being taken down off the ball by Arsenal players, who also went on swinging their leg at opponents because they couldn’t stop them, but these are all seemingly now part of the game.

When there was some football played, Tottenham had the better of the first 15 minutes.  Lucas Moura was active on the left and seemed to have the beating of Bellerin, getting in crosses after easing past the full back, while on the other flank, Stevie Bergwijn was testing Tierney.  In the sixth minute, Davinson Sanchez played an Alderweireld-like pass looking for Dele and although White got there, his weak header dropped for Son, who looked to loop an early taken shot on goal, but put it just past Leno’s right-hand post.  Arsenal’s first effort came just afterwards and Aubameyang’s shot flew high into the South Stand.

Tottenham were working the ball around in the attacking third and looking for little passes inside the box and Dele just failed to find Son, with Hojbjerg crossing for Lucas at the far post, but a defender just got there first.  The best opportunity was created with 15 minutes gone, when Lucas drifted past White and crossed low from the left side of the box to Sonny inside the six-yard box.  The striker’s volley would have hit the net had Leno not been right on top of him and able to block the shot, but the save left both players on the floor and the keeper needed more treatment before continuing, while Son got up to carry on.

It took 20 minutes for Arsenal to get an effort on target, when Lacazette had room outside the box to hit a drive to Hugo Lloris’ right, which he pushed well wide with a low dive.  From this point on until half-time, Arsenal enjoyed more of the possession and carved out another chance for Lacazette when Tierney’s left wing cross to the far post was met on the volley, but it sliced wide of Hugo’s goal.  On the half hour, with rain falling, the same Arsenal striker went closer, with a curler from the edge of the box clipping the outside of the post, but apart from a few crosses into the box that were dealt with, there was little that was directed at Lloris.

After being given the rough-house treatment by the Arsenal players, Dele went through Pepe and was booked, with Arsenal players getting in the referee’s face, but Lucas, Son and Bergwijn had all suffered with no decisions going their way.  Pierre and Dele had both cleared crosses, but in between Lucas played Son into the left hand side of the box, where he held the ball up and turned to lay a pass into Dele’s path 12 yards from goal and his side-footed effort bounced out off the foot of Leno’s right-hand post with five minutes to go from half-time.

Dier blocked a shot from Smith-Rowe and then Skipp got booked for pulling the same player back as he tried to wriggle past him n the line and get into the area.  Compared to what had gone on before and what was to come, it was a really soft yellow card.  And that was it until the ref blew up for the break.  It had been an absorbing game, with Arsenal unable to finish the chances they made and although Spurs had fewer openings, they had threatened more.

There seemed to be some issue about the second half kick-off, with the whistle being blown and about 30 seconds passing before Son restarted the game, but Tottenham were more urgent from that point.  A corner for us brought another when Reguilon fired back a clearance, only to see it blocked, then Sanchez’s header came off a red shirted player for another corner.  Son’s cross from the second phase won another corner and when it fell to Lucas in the box after the ball had pinged around the crowded goalmouth, he was flagged offside.  It looked as though Arsenal might have a good chance thanks to Bellerin’s blocked effort spinning wildly into his path to the left of the goal, but the Gabon striker missed his kick and was offside anyway.

Tierney took out Hojbjerg because he couldn’t stop him any other way, so got a yellow and then Xhaka got let off with a booking a minute later for digging his studs into Skipp’s knee.  Whether referees are so used to the Swiss midfielder’s fouls that they are immune to sending him off I don’t know, but he gets away with a lot more than other players and compared to Skipp’s yellow, it was a joke.

Spurs worked the ball well down the left from an Arsenal attack and Reguilon raced clear, getting to the edge of the box before letting go a left foot shot that flew across Leno, but wide of the far post.  Arsenal had made three substitutions, with Buyako Saka coming on to applause from the Spurs fans for his efforts in the Euro 2020 finals.  He made a run into the wide left hand side of the penalty area and Japhet Tanganga did well to stay on his feet to eventually block his cross out for a corner.  Hojbjerg was replace by Lo Celso and Lloris took a break to give fans their first look at Pierluigi Gollini in the flesh.

Gio looks like he loves playing and wants to be involved in every game (please take not Tanguy) and his pass set Son up for a shot from the right side of the goal, but he took one touch too many and it was blocked for a corner.  Spurs were presented with a good situation with 20 minutes to go with a free kick just wide of the penalty box on the right wing.  Son played it in and Sanchez flicked it on to the far post where Dele stretched out a leg and saw the ball come off the post for the second time in the afternoon.

More substitutions followed before Sergio Reguilon was booked for a foul on Pepe.  What followed next was astounding.  Japhet Tanganga chased Lo Celso’s pass down the right wing and when it bounced up, he outmuscled the weak Pepe and knocked the ball back inside to Gio.  Seeing space in behind the Arsenal defence on the right, the Argentinean midfielder scooped the ball past Pablo Mari for Japhet to run onto.  With Mari behind him, he held him off with the visitor’s defender throwing himself to the floor for some reason ad then played a little square pass inside to Son, who took a touch with his right foot, brining the ball onto his left to finish with a low shot past Leno’s dive to his left.  It showed a more aggressive approach than we are used to seeing from Spurs and one that has been a long time coming.  If Nuno can build this mentality into the team, it could see benefits that others teams reap from showing such determination.

The goal came with 11 minutes left and it was with only five minutes remaining that Arsenal threatened in the second half.  Saka made a good run into the area on the right and tried to screw a shot across Gollini towards the other side of the goal, but he got down well to his right to parry and then claim the shot that lacked power.  An injury time free-kick when Dele was fouled (will he be taking Jack Grealish’s crown as the most fouled player in the new season ?) saw Eric Dier fire it a couple of inches over the bar and that was it before the teams left the field.

It was an afternoon of good things and bad things.  There was some unnecessary booing for Eric Dier early on, but Harry Winks got applause as he warmed up in front of the West Stand.  The reaction from Arteta when he moved out of his technical area towards the touchline as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg tried to keep the ball in play was not helpful to anything really.  Indicating that Hojbjerg should keep quiet when the Dane told him to stay inside his box (as he should do) brought rightful booing from the Spurs fans, who acted impeccably all afternoon, including the support for Saka.  In a competitive game Arteta’s actions would only inflame things.

There were good performances all round form the Spurs players, with some seeming to respond to Nuno’s coaching and tactics.  We went through a 15 minute spell in the middle of the first half when we were giving the ball away too easily with stray passes, but there was more menace to our attacks than Arsenal’s.  It was only a pre-season game, so both sides will approach a match for points differently, but there have been signs of progression through the warm-up games, even though not all the players are back and fit yet.  There was some good interplay between Lucas, Dele and Son, with Bergwijn looking sharper too, so hopefully that bodes well.  The defence looked more solid although it was disappointing to hear that Cristian Romero won’t be fit for the opening match, but better wait until he has overcome his knee injury.

Working out what Spurs needed from the match to take the MIND series was reasonably straightforward.  Three points for a win and a point for every goal scored meant we had to win and score three goals, as Chelsea had eight and we started the match with three.  It didn’t happen, so Chelsea in the MIND games and plan to parade the trophy at Stamford Bridge when Spurs visit in the Premier League.  Now that John Terry is unemployed, expect him to turn up in his tracksuit.

Levy Barrington