MONDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
Derby disaster for Spurs
Sometimes in sport you can sense moments which possess an undeniable gravity, as though history is being written in the moment and the tectonic plates of destiny are shifting. Roger Federer beating Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001; David Beckham’s goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon; you know the type.
Opinion: Who needs Kane? Guardiola building around Foden for City
Yesterday’s match at the Emirates wasn’t quite that, but it was still highly symbolic. If you looked closely enough at full-time you might just have seen the banter baton passed between a jubilant Arsenal and a devastated Tottenham.
It was only 16 days since Nuno Espirito Santo had been named manager of the month after Spurs recorded three straight wins in their opening games of the season; 16 days since Arsenal had lost three in a row to sit bottom of the table in abject misery. And yet on Sunday, it was Spurs succumbing to the kind of catastrophic self-own that Arsenal have trademarked in recent years, even allowing the red half of North London to sneak ahead of them in the table.
Even in a country which is considering sending in the army to control panic buying at petrol pumps, this was an exceptionally silly outcome.
Yes, Arsenal were fantastic as they enjoyed arguably their best performance under Mikel Arteta. Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka continue to be the purest distillation of joy - a fact recognised in what The Warm-Up is officially recording as the cutest moment in Premier League history.
Though Arsenal’s summer transfer activity was heavily mocked - and, let’s be honest with this club, may yet prove to be a terrible misstep - Aaron Ramsdale and Takehiro Tomiyasu both excelled in their first North London derby.
Process = trusted.
And yet you couldn’t really escape the fact that the story here was really Spurs. As Jermaine Jenas put it on Match of the Day 2, it was like, “watching a team who didn’t have a clue what they were doing, and that falls on the manager.”
Nuno’s willingness to accept this was indeed on him in his post-match press conference only underlined the sinking feeling that, with his innately conservative nature, maybe he isn’t the right guy to give Spurs what they need as they try to recover from a near-fatal dose of Jose. “I’m going to be honest. When you have a gameplan you have to make the right decisions in terms of who you want to put on the pitch to develop that gameplan,” he said. “I take responsibility because the decisions were not right according to the gameplan. I won’t name individuals but the gameplan was not right according to the players who were on the pitch.”
And once again, the player really struggling most of all was Harry Kane. Maybe it is the system, but The Warm-Up couldn’t help but feel Martin Tyler’s take was rather generous when he said Kane was such a good professional that a failure to secure a move to Manchester City this summer wouldn’t impact on his performances.
Kane played like he was daydreaming about the service he’d get from Kevin de Bruyne, whether Phil Foden’s dog is really called Carabao or precisely how much money there is in Abu Dhabi. This was a truly abject performance. Kane was missing in action for large swathes of the game, and when he did pop his head up he inadvertently contributed to an Arsenal goal, or did this:
Arsenal’s rejuvenation shows how quickly things can change in football but at present, Tottenham’s decision to refuse to sell Kane to Spurs looks just as bad a strategic move as entrusting Nuno with the reins. Both decisions are unravelling in real time. And didn’t Arsenal just love it.
Jimenez back on the scoresheet...
Nuno’s former team opened proceedings on Super Sunday and ladled on an emotional high that was impossible to top as Raul Jimenez scored his first goal since his emergency brain surgery last year.
The striker still bears the legacy of that sickening moment with the headguard he has to wear in matches but he was all sparkling feet as he fashioned a brilliant strike for a 1-0 win over Southampton.
The fact this was his first goal in 336 days meant basically everything else which happened in the match bled into insignificance. A man put on this earth to score goals is back doing what he does best.
“I knew the goal was coming, I was fighting for it, working for it and all the team deserve it,” Jiménez said.
I was thinking: ‘When will the goal come?’ It felt really good. Four of our five games have been incredible; we need to keep going. The fans are always with us, supporting. It is really important for our team.
... and so is Ansu Fati
Image credit: Getty Images
Going one better than Jimenez was Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, who scored his first goal in 337 days in a quite remarkable comeback performance following 10 months out with a serious knee injury.
Fati came off the bench to score the third in a 3-0 win over Levante, proving that all Barcelona need to stay in one piece is a preternaturally talented young forward wearing the No. 10 shirt who is happy to bear responsibility for the hopes and dreams of an entire region of Spain.
In the time since Fati picked up his injury and returned to first-team football, Barcelona have managed to become the biggest joke in football, seeing their greatest ever player depart on a free transfer because they weren’t allowed to register him and instead recruiting Luuk de Jong, scorer of zero goals during a loan spell at Newcastle.
The goings on at Camp Nou would shame a troupe of trainee clowns, but as well as bringing some football expertise to proceedings, Fati also seems to be ready to reassert some fundamentals which have been sorely lacking.
“We are Barca and we have to aim to win everything - La Liga, Champions League, all the competitions," Fati said. "We have to fight and work for that.”
IN OTHER NEWS
The Warm-Up loves Bruno Fernandes. No-nonsense is a term you’d usually apply to a centre-back who likes kicking people into the stands, but he’s a true no-nonsense forward: just get the ball and either try and score or set someone else up to score. No frills, just action.
So it was rather sad to see he felt compelled to offer a lengthy apology on social media for the apparent crime of missing a penalty in Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday.
Like, don’t worry mate, you just kicked a ball about 20cm too high. What this probably does demonstrate is the pressure which comes if you’ve been given penalty duties ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. A problem that Bruno probably won’t have to worry about any more.
IN THE CHANNELS
If you missed it on Saturday, Paolo Maldini's son scored his first goal for AC Milan....
Re-living a night when Tottenham did show a fight at the Emirates, here’s that famous 4-4 draw in October 2008, featuring a frankly ridiculous long-ranger from David Bentley.
It’s the M23 derby tonight where *checks notes* the mighty Brighton can go top of the table if they can beat rivals Crystal Palace.
A delighted Ben Snowball is compiling more happy thoughts about Tottenham for Tuesday's Warm-Up
Nuno happy with Tottenham's 'amazing job' in win over Newcastle
Newcastle v Tottenham paused due to medical emergency