Arsenal 0 Tottenham 2: Dele Alli stars as Spurs book Chelsea semi-final clash
England midfielder had the last laugh at Emirates after being hit by water bottle thrown from the crowd
Arsenal 0 Tottenham 2
Arsenal defeats are like London buses - you wait ages for one and then two come along at once.
Having surrendered their 22-match unbeaten streak to Southampton on Sunday, the Gunners lost 2-0 at home to Tottenham last night in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup.
It was Arsenal’s first defeat at the Emirates Stadium since they lost to Manchester City in August, and a painful reminder to Unai Emery that his squad are still a work in progress and that new signings will be required next year to turn the side into serious title contenders.
Chelsea await in the semis
As for Tottenham, they confirmed their status as one of Europe’s top teams and remain in the hunt for four trophies. Last night’s victory sets up a semi-final clash next month against Chelsea, who relied on a late goal from substitute Eden Hazard to see off Bournemouth.
“It is a very difficult draw,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. “Chelsea are a great team but we are excited. To be in the semi-final is fantastic for us.”
The star of the show for Spurs was Dele Alli. The England midfielder dominated the centre of the pitch, and his lightness of touch set up the visitors’ first goal for Son Heung-min. Alli then grabbed one for himself, deftly chipping Petr Cech with the outside of his boot.
But his reward for his excellence was to be hit on the head by a plastic water bottle, thrown onto the pitch by an Arsenal fan. It was yet another unsavoury incident in a winter of bad behaviour, but the Tottenham man responded in winning style, simply using his fingers to remind the home fans of the scoreline.
“It is what it is,” said Alli, when asked about the incident. “It made the goal even sweeter, and the win. We knew how important it was - a big test. It was a strong performance in the end.”
Arsenal had chances to score, but Tottenham keeper Paulo Gazzaniga saved well in the first-half from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, while his post came to the rescue after the break as Alexandre Lacazette’s effort kissed the upright.
Yet these were rare moments of creativity from an Arsenal side that lacked the precision and energy of their visitors - who seemed intent from the off to avenge their Premier League defeat a fortnight ago.
“We created chances in the first half to score, but today the efficiency was not good for us,” admitted Unai Emery. “We worked for 90 minutes and in our moments we didn’t take our chances. They scored theirs.”
The end for Ozil?
Emery was also asked to account for the absence of Mesut Ozil, who didn’t even make the bench, despite being 100% fit.
“It’s a tactical decision because I thought that the players that were with us today were the best choices for this match,” Emery said, fuelling rumours that the German midfielder is no longer part of the Spaniard’s plans.
Asked if he would listen to offers for Ozil in next month’s transfer window, Emery added: “I am thinking about the match on Saturday [against Burnley] and not thinking about another situation.”
Carabao Cup results and draw
- Leicester City 1 Manchester City 1 (Man City won 3-1 on penalties)
- Middlesbrough 0 Burton Albion 1
- Arsenal 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2
- Chelsea 1 Bournemouth 0
The semi-finals will be played over two legs and matches take place on the weeks commencing 7 and 21 January 2019.
- Tottenham vs. Chelsea
- Manchester City vs. Burton Albion